Georgia high school is challenged to live up to high, and perhaps even unrealistic, expectations

ATHENS — Georgia’s secondary numbers will be tested in an extreme way this season, something not seen since 2016, with a reload front and a challenging schedule.

Preseason magazines and online publications are quick to pull up last season’s impressive numbers and pocket West Virginia safety transfer Tykee Smith, who was hampered by injuries last season.

On the face of it, that’s comforting, as cornerback Kelee Ringo and safety veteran Christopher Smith both bring preseason All-American honors into the 2022 season.

Additionally, positional groups don’t operate independently, and almost every Bulldogs fan knows that much of the runners-up success in 2021 could come from a historically dominant front seven

• produced four first-round NFL draft picks (Jordan Davis, Devonte Wyatt, Quay Walker and overall winner Travon Walker), the Butkus Award winner (Nakobe Dean) and one third-round NFL draft (Channing Tindall).

• Second nationally in run defense (78.9 yards per game), making opposing attacks essentially one-dimensional

• Ranked third in the nation in tackles-for-loss yardage (510) and seventh in the nation with 3.27 sacks per game.

Georgia has recruited high-level talent, but there will be a significant loss of experience.

The take-away is the secondary that finds itself in more challenging down-and-distance situations and in coverage for longer instances.

ESPN’s latest quarterback predictions for the next NFL draft provide further evidence that Georgia’s secondary may not look as good this season as it will in 2021.

The Bulldogs could face five of the top-20 NFL draft prospects as quarterback this season, with Alabama Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young being the No. 2 QB, according to an ESPN-Plus pay site article Jordan Reid, which was released earlier this month.

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Georgia won’t play Tide in the regular season, however, if the Bulldogs win the East Division, Alabama is the most likely opponent to represent the West.

Here’s what Reid said about each of the QBs the Bulldogs might face:

No. 2 Bryce Young, Alabama

Matchup: Possibly December 3, Mercedes-Benz Stadium

ESPN Take: “Attitude. It’s the unique trait that could set him apart from the other QB prospects in the 2023 class. Look at that comeback win in overtime against Auburn. Think of how he fared in the national championship game against Georgia attacked despite losing his two top targets in John Metchie III and Jameson Williams in back-to-back weeks.There wasn’t much that unsettled Young in his first season as a starter.”

#4 Will Levis, Kentucky

Matchup: November 19, Lexington, Kentucky.

ESPN Take: “Levis has a snappy three-quarter release and the ball comes off his hand with energy and speed. He is at his best when he can turn his back on defense on play-action passes, reset his eyes and gauge defense. And Levis is also a competitive runner who is fearless when escaping the bag.”

No. 5 Anthony Richardson, Florida

Matchup: October 29, Jacksonville, Fla.

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