McGhee talks how versatility has prepared him
Tyrique McGhee already has a battle scar on the right side of his face.
During Georgia’s win over Samford two weeks ago, McGhee, a former Peach County standout, collided with an opposing player, which caused his helmet to loosen and pop him on the cheek.
The wound began to bleed, with blood running into McGhee’s eye. At first, McGhee wondered why he couldn’t see. His teammates, however, could see clearly what was happening.
“Your face is bleeding, bro,” McGhee said his teammates told him.
That didn’t matter much in the moment. McGhee had the wound cleaned and kept competing. He played the next game against Mississippi State too, a 31-3 rout that saw the former Peach County star total a tackle and a pass breakup.
McGhee, evidenced by his dust-up against Samford, has shown the tendency to be a physical corner. It is reflective of a motto head coach Kirby Smart has told his unit, which McGhee has taken to heart.
“No finesse corners,” McGhee said.
Time and again Smart has lauded McGhee’s efforts. Last season, McGhee was a special teams standout on kickoff and punt coverage. This season, he has 11 tackles and earned a cornerback start against Samford.
McGhee isn’t the biggest cornerback at 5-foot-10 and 187 pounds. But he hasn’t shied away from contact since arriving to Georgia. When McGhee has been banged up in practice, he will often play through it. He isn’t one to miss a play just because he’s hurt.
For McGhee to sit, it has to be an actual injury that requires absolute rest for it to heal.
“It’s either you’re injured or you’re hurt,” McGhee said. “If you can go out on that field, why not? That’s something I pride myself on. If you’re not injured go out there and play.”
Smart has been impressed with McGhee’s approach since he arrived as a freshman a year ago.
“He’s really physical, he strikes, he loves contact, and he encourages everybody else on the field,” Smart said. “So it's a pleasure to have him on the team. I love his toughness. He's got great toughness.”
Georgia’s defense is a veteran-laden group with the exception of some young rotational players. McGhee is in the latter category but has seen plenty of game reps over the first four weeks of the season.
McGhee has stood out to outside linebacker Davin Bellamy, who said he plays older than his age.
“I noticed him early. He’s a natural DB with ball skills,” Bellamy said. “He’ll come up and tackle. He’s very instinctive, athletic and quick. He’s just an athlete, man. He has a knack for the game. He’s so mature and that really stands out.”
McGhee has been playing a good bit at left cornerback, which is where Malkom Parrish started the past two seasons at. Parrish missed the first three games of the season due to a broken foot and saw limited time against Mississippi State.
McGhee also saw plenty of work through the offseason at Georgia’s star position, which is the nickel defender. McGhee’s versatility has put himself in position to earn the minutes he’s received thus far.
And through the first third of the season, McGhee is happy with how he has performed.
“I think I’ve done a great job with my role on the defense with handling my side and the things I can control,” he said. “I’m trying to keep up the consistency and do everything I can to contribute.”
Georgia at Tennessee
3:30 p.m., Saturday