May 28, 2009

Boykin has leg up at short corner

There's no question one of the biggest preseason battles will revolve around short corner and who eventually replaces Asher Allen, now a rookie with the Minnesota Vikings.

Although experience will be somewhat lacking, athleticism won't be in short supply.

Sophomore Brandon Boykin enjoyed an outstanding spring and would appear to have the upper hand, but freshmen Branden Smith and Jordan Love both figure to get a long hard look with returnees Sanders Commings and Makiri Pugh still expected to receive opportunities of their own.

Although he played sparingly his freshman yeah, Boykin did get in all 13 games last for Georgia. But he isn't taking anything for granted.

He certainly doesn't believe the position is his to lose.

"I don't look at it that way, that the spot is mine to lose," Boykin said. "You look at the depth chart on UGASports and it might say my name, but I know I'm going to have to go out and work hard every day because there are some other people that are right behind me wanting to play the same position and they're going to work just as hard. I'm definitely would not say that that it's mine to lose. I'm going to continue to work hard."

Smith isn't taking anything for granted either. And that five-star ranking he brings to Athens? The former Washington star said it won't mean a thing when he steps foot on campus with the rest of the freshmen this weekend.

"I'm ready to compete for the job," Smith said. "I know I've got to go in and prove myself to everyone, but I think I'm ready for that. I know as a freshman I have to come in and prove myself all over again, but that's fine. I'm ready to compete. I know everyone has high expectations of me and I'm going to try and prove them right by being the best I can at my position."

Although Commings and Pugh will likely see most of their action at nickel back, Boykin believes that the pair could bring their own bit of flair to the position.

At 6-foot-2 and 210 pounds, Boykin said that Commings can become the kind of tall, physical cornerback that will remind Georgia fans of another "big" corner - former Bulldog Paul Oliver.

Although Commings is actually two inches taller that the 6-foot Oliver, approaching his third year with the San Diego Chargers, Boykin doesn't believe that added height will be a detriment in the least.

"Sanders is pretty fast for his size, but he's also really strong, probably just as strong as the safeties we've got. Him at corner will be a real advantage in the running game and be able to get off blocks," Boykin said. "Whatever Coach (Willie) Martinez decides to do he's going to be pretty good, nickel or corner, he could play either one."

Boykin, who made seven tackles as a backup last year, said he's looking forward to the competition, especially with Commings, one of his best friends on the team.

"It's going to be pretty intense but it's going to be in fun," Boykin said. "When we went out there for pass skel on Thursday he played a lot of safety and I'm telling him what to do a lot of the time but we know that we're going to compete against each other and whatever the outcome, we'll still be friends. We're both going to be on the field regardless. That's pretty much how it's going to be."

Boykin said recently he was unsure how Smith and Love would fit into the equation, but he recalls what it was like his trying to earn playing time as a freshman.

It wasn't easy.

"With any freshman they've got to learn the system. It takes a while to do that," Boykin said. "But when the new guys come in I'm going to try and teach them everything they need to know because they can help us out early."

Boykin remembers what it was like for him.

"Starting off it was kind of tough adjusting school and football, but Asher and Remarcus (Brown) really helped me out a lot," Boykin said. "I was actually playing more nickel than corner last year. I'm actually a lot more comfortable with corner but playing nickel really helped a lot with corner because now I now all the different positions."

NOTE: Prince Miller returns as the starter at wide corner, with Vance Cuff ticketed for a backup role.

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