When the Georgia Bulldogs take the field in the Sugar Bowl against Texas on New Year’s Day, they will be without a key piece of the defensive secondary. Head coach Kirby Smart announced on Thursday that defensive back Deandre Baker would not play in the bowl game but will travel to New Orleans with the team, according to Marc Weiszer with the Athens-Banner Herald.
Earlier this month, Baker was named the winner of the Jim Thorpe Award, given to the most outstanding defensive back in the country. During the ceremony, Baker said he would be playing in the Sugar Bowl.
“I just want to finish out right with the dogs,” Baker said on the broadcast. “You know my last season, I want to go out with a W and finish out with my brothers.”
When asked on December 17 — prior to Baker’s declaration — Smart said at the time that he was not aware of any players planning to skip the bowl game.
“We certainly support whatever decisions our players make, but none that I’m aware of. We don’t have anybody right now,” Smart said. “I think you can debate either side of it, but you have to look at it from each player’s perspective, and I think each player should be treated individually based on their body of work they’ve had at that location, at that college.”
The senior is projected as a potential top-10 draft pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. Baker finishes his Georgia career as the only player in the school’s history to win the Jim Thorpe Award. During his time at Georgia he had 116 tackles and seven interceptions.