Out of necessity, Georgia leaned heavily on true freshmen this past season in the secondary and took its lumps along the way.
Four-star cornerback commitment Malkom Parrish could be next to contribute immediately in 2014, but if he doesn‚Äôt he‚Äôs fine with that, too.
‚ÄúMy first year is going to be based on me learning the system and getting better by the day,‚Äù Parrish said. ‚ÄúIf the first year, I don‚Äôt have a chance, that‚Äôs all right. Hopefully by the second year, I‚Äôll get a little (playing time).‚Äù
True freshmen defensive backs Shaq Wiggins, Quincy Mauger, Tray Matthews and Brendan Langley combined for 25 starts in 2013 for a team that gave up 227.4 passing yards per game, ninth in the Southeastern Conference.
Parrish, from Brooks County High in Quitman, thinks he has the skill set to crack the rotation at Georgia.
‚ÄúThe competitiveness with the talent, I think that will give me the confidence to go out there and compete with those guys,‚Äù Parrish said.
The 5-foot-10, 185-pound Parrish was second on the East team in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl last Saturday in San Antonio with three tackles ‚Äî all solo ‚Äî and had a pass breakup while working at safety.
‚ÄúHe can play, he can play quickly,‚Äù said 247sports recruiting analyst Rusty Mansell, who spent the week in Texas at the U.S. Army practices. ‚ÄúHe can turn, run, is physical. He‚Äôs going to play corner. He‚Äôll have to adjust a little bit, obviously playing defense in college, because he played safety in high school. When he gets turned loose, his natural athletic ability, a physical kid, strong, he will strike you and can cover.‚Äù
And, Mansell said, Parrish doesn‚Äôt lack for confidence.
‚ÄúI‚Äôm not scared of anything,‚Äù Parrish said. ‚ÄúI‚Äôm not scared of no height. Height doesn‚Äôt defeat me. If people want to compete with you, if you are telling me you‚Äôre going to beat me, I believe you‚Äôre going to have to show me, no matter how tall you are or how strong you are.‚Äù
Parrish, rated the nation‚Äôs No. 6 cornerback by Rivals.com and No. 11 by Scout.com, is from about 20 minutes outside of Valdosta.
He would join defensive backs Shawn Williams and Bacarri Rambo in recent years that Georgia assistant Mike Bobo has helped pluck from South Georgia.
‚ÄúEverything I talk about, he knows exactly what I‚Äôm talking about,‚Äù Parrish said. ‚ÄúThat relationship kind of built up from the start, almost kind of like it was meant to be. We related well.‚Äù
Parrish, named the state‚Äôs Class AA offensive player of the year as a quarterback, is one of three commitments in the secondary in Georgia‚Äôs 2014 class. The others are cornerback Shattle Fenteng from Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College and safety Kendall Gant from Lakeland, Fla. Georgia is also recruiting cornerback Wesley Green from Martin Luther King Jr. High in Lithonia.
Parrish picked Georgia over Georgia Tech and Oregon in June.
‚ÄúI liked what they told me,‚Äù he said. ‚ÄúThey didn‚Äôt promise me anything, but they did promise a great education. They promised me as long as I get my education, I‚Äôll be in good hands. Football is going to come.‚Äù