This is a huge spring for Georgia football's group of safeties.
The unit took a step back going into last season with the inexperienced Lewis Cine taking over for veteran, multi-year starter J.R. Reed. Another step back occurred when Richard LeCounte suffered an injury in the middle of the season, forcing another inexperienced player Christopher Smith to take over.
Both safeties did an admirable job despite being thrown into the fire together. Cine and Smith improved immensely as the season progressed. They took some lumps, but they should become better players for it.
Safety Depth Chart
- SA1: Lewis Cine, junior
- SA2: Christopher Smith, senior
- SA3: Latavious Brini, senior
- SA4: Major Burns, sophomore
- SA5: David Daniel, freshman
Cine is the clear leader of Georgia's safety group having started 12 straight games and appearing in every game of his career so far. At times last year, Cine looked like Georgia's next great safety. At other times, he made costly errors that led to big plays by Georgia's opponents.
This is a huge spring for Cine. It's time to process all that he learned in 2020, polish his game, and start reaching his potential. Cine has perhaps the highest upside of anyone in Georgia's secondary.
No one had it worse than Smith last season. It was very difficult to replace LeCounte, especially a week before the Florida game. The Gators' varied passing attack was a tall task for every safety, not just those making their first start. He struggled that day.
But Smith didn't crumble after that performance. He kept working and developing, and that showed in the Peach Bowl. Smith finally showed off his impressive closing speed as he started processing plays and breaking on the ball quicker. Expect to see a new and improved Smith this spring.
The biggest surprise of the Peach Bowl was Latavious Brini, who made his first career start. He had an impressive performance, shutting down Cincinnati's quick passing game and showing good coverage skills downfield. Brini should start at STAR this season, but occasional personnel shuffling may see him play some snaps at safety.
Competing for playing time down the depth chart are Burns and Daniel. Burns has a year on Daniel, but Daniel is a bit more polished coming out of high school. It will be interesting to see which of the two young guns performs best this spring, especially since they'll likely be teammates in the G-Day game.