Last season, the Georgia Bulldogs had to rely heavily on true freshmen to be the last line of defense.
Brendan Langley, Shaq Wiggins, Tray Matthews and Quincy Mauger combined for 25 stars, according to Marc Weiszer of the Athens Banner-Herald. And those four true freshmen took their lumps, averaging 227.4 passing yards per game, ninth in the SEC.
So, the Bulldogs are still looking to build the secondary and are hoping that 2014 signee Malkom Parrish will be ready to go in the fall.
Parrish, a 4-star cornerback (via 247Sports), comes from Quitman, Georgia, and played both ways at Brooks County High School. He was also the team’s quarterback and led them to a 12-2 record and an appearance in the state semifinals. He was named to the AJC All-State team when the season came to an end.
The reason Parrish was not recruited as a quarterback was due to his stature (5’9’’, 185). But he has good size to play cornerback at the next level. 247Sports listed him as the ninth-best corner in the country and the fifth-best player in Georgia.
The reason for that is he can react quickly to the football and also has great recovery speed. Parrish can also tackle, which was missing from the secondary last season. But because of his ability to play on offense, Parrish has excellent ball skills—also something that was missing in the secondary last season.
Having the skill set to play cornerback is great, but the one thing that will make a cornerback elite is lack of fear and, according to Parrish, he definitely has that. Here is what Parrish had to say about that via the Athens Banner-Herald:
I’m not scared of anything. I’m not scared of no height. Height doesn’t defeat me. If people want to compete with you, if you are telling me you’re going to beat me, I believe you’re going to have to show me, no matter how tall you are or how strong you are.
But how successful can Parrish be, and when will he contribute?
With Parrish joining the Bulldogs, this will be the third defensive back offensive coordinator Mike Bobo has recruited from South Georgia, the other two being Shawn Williams and Bacarri Rambo. Both Williams and Rambo had strong careers at UGA and both are looking to do the same thing in the NFL.
Parrish can have the same success, but he will have some competition. Not only will he have the rising sophomores to deal with, but the Bulldogs also signed two more cornerbacks that are looking to get some playing time in the fall.
Shattle Fenteng comes from Hutchinson Community College, where 247Sports ranked him as the third-best junior college cornerback in the country.
Shaquille Jones is from Merritt Island, Florida, and 247Sports gave him a 3-star rating.
Because both players are 6’2’’, they will have an edge on Parrish. But they don't have the tackling ability or ball skills that Parrish has.
If Parrish does get the opportunity to play, he won’t be in the same boat that Langley, Matthews, Wiggins and Mauger were in last season. Those four players were thrown into the fire from the start. Parrish will have an opportunity to learn from those four and Damian Swann on how to be a cornerback in the SEC, and he can play sparingly to get some reps.
Under defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt, the Bulldogs should, and probably will, get better on defense. But they need the young players to step up, and while the talk has been all about Lorenzo Carter, people need to start taking notice of Parrish. He is ready to take his game and the Bulldogs to the next level.