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Buying Stock: SEC East DBs

by Connor Jackson

Photo courtesy of Florida athletics

One of the most long-going arguments among college football bases is who should actually claim “DBU”.

There are numerous schools that believe they deserve the crown and a number of those schools reside in the SEC. As we start to wrap up this “Buying Stock” series, take a look at all the talent in these defensive backfields, and who we think is actually deserving of the hype.

Florida: Buying

Florida loses multiple experienced guys this year, especially Marco Wilson. Despite those losses, the Gators might be even more talented. Florida does return some key pieces from a year ago such as Kaiir Elam, Tre Dean, Tre’Vez Johnson and Rashard Torrence. Elam has received some serious preseason hype, and is considered one of the best cornerbacks in the country after a strong season in 2020.

One newcomer to watch is 5-star prospect Jason Marshall. Marshall enrolled early and made huge moves this spring. He should start on the other side of Elam, giving Florida a big-time duo at corner.

As far as depth is concerned, there is a lot of it. Florida has recruited well at this spot. Guys like Ethan Pouncey and Donovan McMillon are more than worthy backups.

From top to bottom, this group is really well-balanced and should be one of the best in the SEC in 2020.

Georgia: Buying

Georgia is pretty much stacked everywhere. That includes in the secondary. There were some questions coming out of 2020, but the Bulldogs answered those by adding two All-American defensive backs in Tykee Smith from West Virginia and Derion Kendrick from Clemson.

Outside of Smith and Kendrick, guys like Jalen Kimber, Ameer Speed, Lewis Cine, Christopher Smith, and Kelee Ringo will have to step up to round out the rotation.

Georgia loses a lot of guys from last year’s team, but none more impactful than Richard LeCounte and Tyson Campbell. The Bulldogs also lost some other key parts of the rotation, such as Mark Webb, DJ Daniel, and Major Burns.

This group has a lot of talent; in fact, it might be one of the most talented in the conference. The Georgia secondary might get pushed around early, but it will be a force to be reckoned with once everyone settles in.

Kentucky: Selling

Yusuf Corker should be all over the field for Kentucky in 2021. After all, he is the Wildcats’ leading returning tackler. Tyrell Aijan was also reliable last season at safety, finishing fifth on the team in tackles.

Safety won’t be an issue for Kentucky, but cornerback is where some questions arise. Kentucky loses its top two cover guys from last year in Kelvin Joseph and Brandin Echols. Joseph was the leader in the secondary for Kentucky, and finished with four interceptions last season. Fortunately, Cedric Dort is ready to step back into a starting role. Dort has 15 starts in his career with 12 of them coming in 2019.

Kentucky will need someone to step up alongside Dort. If the Wildcats can find a way to create some consistency and depth at corner, this may be one of the more underrated cornerback units in the conference. That however, is far from a given.

Missouri: Selling

Missouri struggled with consistency at cornerback last season, and loses three starters from a year ago. The nation’s No. 1 junior college cornerback Jadarrius Perkins was set to come in and be a difference-maker in 2021, but has since transferred to Florida.

Missouri did hit the portal to help remediate some of those losses. The most welcome addition is Akayleb Evans from Tulsa. There are also some young guys with added experience from a year ago.

The talent is here, but again, we’re not comfortable calling this group one of the best in the league. We’ll play it safe and take the wait-and-see approach; we won’t be shocked if this group surprises some people.

South Carolina: Selling

South Carolina loses practically everyone in this group from a year ago, and guys like Jaycee Horn are not easy to replace. Fortunately, the Gamecocks did hit the portal hard. Head coach Shane Beamer has some experience developing defensive backs, but he won’t hesitate to tell you that this group is far from where he wants it to be.

There are some guys back with playing experience, but this group is badly missing a shutdown corner and has depth issues.

Don’t count on South Carolina to turn things around at this spot before the season begins. In fact, this could be a multi-year rebuild.

Tennessee: Buying

Even with the losses of difference-makers like Bryce Thompson and Key Lawrence, this group looks like it could be a strength for Tennessee.

For starters, the duo of Alontae Taylor and Jaylen McCullough is one of the best in the league. They have the talent and numbers back it up. On top of that, throw breakout candidates like Doneiko Slaughter into the mix.

Depth may be an issue, but the Volunteers are good where it matters most. If it can stay healthy, Tennessee might have a very active defensive backfield.

Vanderbilt: Selling

This group was really bad last year. To add insult to injury, Vanderbilt’s best defensive back Donovan Kaufman transferred to Auburn.

Fortunately, this is a group with some experience. How much of a difference that makes remains to be seen.

It is hard to be worse than the Commodores were last year. Unfortunately, the personnel is just too weak here to be productive.

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