Tyrique McGhee didn’t come to Georgia with the recruiting hype or added stars next to his name.
But from what head coach Kirby Smart has seen out of the Peach County product thus far, McGhee is someone who very well should contribute down the road.
Smart noted that McGhee, who entered Georgia as a three-star prospect at 5-foot-10 and 185 pounds, has been able to learn the defensive playbook fairly fast, which has impressed the coaching staff this preseason.
“Tyrique is a very bright kid,” Smart said. “He’s learned our system very well. He’s really explosive. He’s another really strong guy for his size.”
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Smart has previously stated the need for Georgia’s secondary to improve in its man defense, which is something McGhee came to Georgia skillful at. He’ll also have plenty of time to grow into the position as Georgia has plenty of veterans on the roster who can help McGhee along the way.
With Georgia returning every starter in the defensive backfield, McGhee won’t be pressured into a big role early on. But he does have the kind of attributes that are appealing for the defense Georgia is running, which is why Smart quickly let him know how much he wanted him to stay committed after becoming Georgia's head coach in December.
In addition, McGhee's athleticism could allow for him to be tasked with some special teams duty early in his career.
McGhee was able to show off some of his press-man abilities last Saturday during Georgia’s open practice, although he hasn’t been playing at 100 percent of late.
Smart said McGhee is dealing with a hamstring injury but is doing his best to play through it. While McGhee hasn’t worn a black non-contact jersey in practice, Smart said he’s seen the injury take its toll at times.
“He’s one of the toughest freshmen I’ve ever been around because he’s had a little bit of a hamstring (injury),” Smart said. “He never says a word. He takes every rep and he competes. He’s not at full speed and it’s hurt him at corner. That’s one of those hard injuries to get over in camp because you’re allowing so many yards. It’s been tough for him.”
But even with the early preseason injury, McGhee, who turned 18 years old on Thursday, has done his part to impress Smart.
“I can tell he’s going to be a good player,” Smart said. “I’ve been pleased with him.”