Georgia's defense was a force last year, and it is getting an established star via the transfer portal as it attempts to repeat the production in 2021. Ex-West Virginia defensive back Tykee Smith announced on Twitter on Sunday that he is taking his talents to Athens after a wildly successful career with the Mountaineers.
Smith had 61 tackles, eight of which were for losses, and recorded two interceptions in 2020. That performance earned him All-America honors from several outlets, including a spot on the third team from the Associated Press. The 5-foot-10, 198-pound sophomore from Philadelphia was a big reason why West Virginia's defense finished tops in the Big 12 in defensive yards per play at 4.65, total defense with 291.4 yards per game and scoring defense at 20.5 points per game.
His freshman season was solid as well. He notched 51 tackles and picked off two passes, one of which he returned for a touchdown. That earned him first-team freshman All-America honors from the Football Writers Association of America.
Smith will push for immediate playing time in the Bulldogs defensive backfield. Star safety Richard LeCounte moved on to the NFL after exhausting his eligibility, and starters Mark Webb and Eric Stokes are gone as well. That has left Georgia looking for options. Smith has a nose for the football and is a hard-hitting safety who isn't afraid to stick his nose in against the run, giving coach Kirby Smart plenty of versatility as he looks to re-build his secondary.
There is a sense of urgency in that unit this spring. The Bulldogs will open the season against a potent Clemson offense in Charlotte on Sept. 4.