What's Left at Safety Following Transfer Loss?

Georgia didn't have much to give in the defensive back room entering the 2021 offseason. Another blow was dealt via the transfer portal with the newest entrant, Major Burns.
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Georgia lost six defensive backs following the conclusion of the 2020 season. Five of the six entered the NFL Draft, four of which heard their name called during the three-night event. To make matters worse, Tyrique Stevenson entered the transfer portal and transferred to Miami. Stevenson was the presumed replacement for senior defensive back Mark Webb at STAR. 

With no starting collegiate experience at cornerback entering the 2021 season, the Dawgs needed all the players they could get in the secondary. That included seeing four-star running back Lovasea Carroll becoming a "spring experiment" at the position. 

The announcement Monday that sophomore safety Major Burns was entering the portal makes depth at the position even thinner. The departure of the Baton Rouge, La., native, makes one wonder if Georgia will find themselves back in the portal looking for another defensive back after the recent addition of West Virginia's Tykee Smith.

Burns was a 2020 early enrollee who, like the others, was put at a disadvantage due to COVID not having spring practice as freshman. Burns played six games in 2020, recording just five tackles. So what exactly is Georgia losing in Burns? 

He was an expected contributor in the 2021 season with the emergence of Christopher Smith following his stint as a starter in relief of Richard LeCounte III after the motorcycle accident that ended his season. Burns was expected to be heading to a more advanced role in 2021, preparing him to challenge for a starting job in 2022. Georgia is left with:

  • Lewis Cine, junior
  • Christopher Smith, senior 
  • Latavious Brini, senior
  • David Daniel, freshman
  • Dan Jackson, redshirt sophomore 

Those five names don't include incoming junior transfer Tykee Smith. Smith was listed as playing the "spear" position at West Virginia under then-defensive backs coach Jahmile Addae, now at Georgia; Smith is viewed as a versatile player who can play at the STAR, safety, and off-ball linebacker. 

While Smith's addition to the defensive back group should help quell the concerns of an eye-catching amount of inexperience in the secondary, we shouldn't be surprised if Georgia enters the transfer portal again this offseason for another defensive back.

As for what happened with Burns, rumors around his departure began to swirl about a week before his public announcement according to sources inside the building. There were some things outside of football that left him wanting to be closer to home, and for good reason. Georgia’s staff was certainly hurt by the decision, but not at all shocked or unwilling to help with his departure. One source stated that Burns was set to be a major piece of the defense in 2021, but wouldn’t have seen the field as a starter barring some type of injury. Even then, Brini could always have moved back to safety.