HOOVER, Ala. - Perhaps the biggest question facing the Georgia football team this preseason will be who can play in the secondary. An offseason of turnovers has followed a season of struggles, and spots seem wide open.
But one candidate is emerging before practice even starts: Freshman safety Dominick Sanders.
Linebacker Ramik Wilson and tailback Todd Gurley both mentioned Sanders as having impressed during recent workouts. Wilson, speaking Thursday at SEC media days, was particularly impressed.
"He covers ground quick," Wilson said. "He goes up and makes turnovers. He's going to push for somebody's spot."
Gurley was asked which freshmen had impressed him, and named Sanders, receiver-returner Isaiah McKenzie and receiver Rico Johnson.
This isn't the first time a freshman safety named Sanders has made a good early impression: Three years ago Chris Sanders, who is Dominick's older brother, drew similar praise in the summer before his freshman year. Sanders ended up being limited by injuries and then was dismissed from the team the following February, following the dorm room theft incident that also involved Nick Marshall and Sanford Seay.
Dominick Sanders would seem to have a good chance to play this season, as long as he can stay healthy. Senior Corey Moore and sophomore Quincy Mauger will begin the preseason with the most starting experience, but new defensive coordinator and secondary coach Jeremy Pruitt has made it clear that experience is not necessarily a virtue for him.
Still, Wilson expressed optimism in the secondary, feeling that Moore and cornerback Damian Swann are primed for big senior seasons. Wilson said the secondary can easily replace Josh Harvey-Clemons (dismissed), Tray Matthews (dismissed) and cornerback Shaq Wiggins (transferred.)
"In what we have, the talent that's back there, we didn't lose anything at all," Wilson said.