Rambo breaks down DB battle


ATHENS, Ga. -- Georgia’s cornerbacks receive the bulk of attention when it comes to their depth concerns, but Bacarri Rambo just shakes his head when reminded that safety isn’t the Bulldogs’ deepest position, either.

It helps that Rambo -- an All-American last season after ranking among the national leaders with eight interceptions -- and fellow senior starter Shawn Williams are back. But after them, the safety depth chart is full of inexperience.

However, Rambo has confidence that defensive coordinator Todd Grantham and the other defensive assistants will be able to formulate a scheme that will mask any depth issues the secondary might face.

“Our coaches, they’re brilliant at this stuff,” Rambo said. “They’ll come up with the right guys for the right positions to make plays and help out the secondary. They see that we don’t have that much depth in the secondary, so they’ll handle that.”

Now is the time where the Bulldogs try to address those depth concerns, with young cornerbacks like rising sophomores Damian Swann and Malcolm Mitchell and redshirt freshman Devin Bowman joining the competition. Rising sophomores Corey Moore and Quintavius Harrow, redshirt sophomore Mark Deas and walk-on sophomore Connor Norman will do the same at safety.

Few people -- certainly nobody in the media -- have had a better view of the youngsters’ efforts in practice and away from the field than Rambo. So DawgNation asked the talkative rising senior to break down some of the contenders for playing time in the secondary.

* Moore might be the top reserve at safety, particularly while the versatile Sanders Commings sits out the first two games on suspension. Rambo and Coach Mark Richt both said this week that Moore still has a lot to learn, but Rambo clearly loves his potential.

“Corey, he’s going to come along. He’s just got to calm down and just learn the system a little bit more,” Rambo said. “It will probably take another year -- till next year -- but once he gets it, he’s going to be a great safety. He can hit. He’s just got to work on his coverage skills a little bit, but once he does that, he can do great things at Georgia.”

* Gaining knowledge -- and then applying it -- is the biggest obstacle for most young players who join the defense. That’s the main holdup for players like Harrow and Deas, Rambo said.

“Mark Deas, he has a lot of improving to do, but those guys are going to come along. And Quintavius, he’s still coming along,” he said. “All those guys, I tell them it’s going to take a year, probably two or three years, for you to learn that scheme.

“From my second year to my third year, I made big progress because you have to put so much time into that scheme. You have to have great work ethic and be determined to be great to play safety because you have to put in time to learn this stuff,” he said. “At safety you have to make all the coverage calls out there, so those guys will come along. Time will tell.”

* Norman turned some heads last spring and then capped it by recording five tackles and an interception in the G-Day game.

Mitchell -- who is switching from receiver to cornerback this spring -- said Norman is typically the player who makes sure he’s in the right place now on the second-team defense. Rambo said that job suits the walk-on because of his sharp intellect.

“Connor Norman, he’s smart. He knows a lot of stuff,” Rambo said. “He could probably go be a defensive coordinator somewhere because he’s so smart and he knows the scheme so well.”

* Safety is the position Rambo knows best, but he’s getting a good look at the cornerbacks, as well.

He said many of the young defensive backs are maturing rapidly, but Swann stands out in that area.

“Damian, he’s maturing so fast, he’ll be telling me what to do sometimes,” Rambo said.

* Rambo’s darkhorse to watch in the cornerback competition? Former walk-on Blake Sailors, who to this point has contributed almost exclusively on special teams.

“Let me tell you, a lot of people are overlooking Blake Sailors,” Rambo said. “I was telling some of the guys it’s scary. It’s really scary because Blake can really be good at cornerback if he really puts his mind to it and gets that attitude that he wants to be good. He could be real good at corner.

"He’s fast. The only thing that would probably hurt him is his size, but he’s fast, he can cover and he’s smart,” he continued. “I’d have to say Blake. All the other guys, y’all have seen them. You can tell for yourself that Damian, Malcolm and all those guys are going to be good, but Blake, he looks really impressive out there at corner.”