UGA’s freshman defensive backs impressive in preseason

Brendan Langley and Shaq Wiggins have been on campus at Georgia for a little over two months.

UGA's freshman defensive backs impressive in preseason
Marc Weiszer

Enough time to show teammate Justin Scott-Wesley that they have the makeup to handle the pressure of playing cornerback as a freshman in high-profile games in a matter of weeks.

“They have the confidence and the swagger that you’d like to see in a DB,” said Scott-Wesley, a redshirt sophomore receiver. “Shaq, he’s very, how do I say this? He’s like a bumblebee. He’s always in your ear, he’s always there. He’s a fiery guy. A fast-guy.”

Wiggins and Langley both could be thrown into the heat of battle early in their college careers since the secondary will be missing sophomore Josh Harvey-Clemons due to a suspension for the Aug. 31 opener at Clemson and freshman Reggie Wilkerson for the season with a knee injury.

In the closest thing to a game so far, Langley was credited with an interception in Wednesday’s preseason scrimmage. He said he actually had two.

“I still got beat on a couple of plays,” said Langley, a four-star recruit from Kell High School “I still can get better in certain places. Compared to how I started off and how I am now, I think I had an extremely good day.”

Wiggins (limited recently with a strained groin) and Langley are among eight defensive backs in this Georgia recruiting class. That’s a significant chunk of the 31 signees who made it to campus.

There are only six other players in the secondary that were recruited to Georgia on scholarship.

Georgia is rebuilding on the back end after three defensive backs (Shawn Williams, Sanders Commings and Bacarri Rambo) were taken in the NFL draft. Another (Branden Smith) is in an NFL camp this month as a free agent.

The headliner for the Georgia secondary newcomers is Tray Matthews, the freshman from Newnan who is the Bulldogs’ starting free safety. He had a breakout spring but has been limited this preseason with a sprained shoulder.

“I don’t think we’re going to have any problems,” Langley said. “We’ll just have to see and handle it between the whistles come the first game. The way we’re shaping up we have a lot of work to do, but I think we’ll be ready come game time.”

Other newcomers in the secondary: safeties Shaquille Fluker and Quincy Mauger, cornerback Kennar Johnson and safety Paris Bostick, who will miss the season following toe surgery.

“We’re always in the DB room joking around before film sessions,” Langley said. “I think we’re building a great brotherhood that’s going to help us in the long run.”

Fluker, a 6-foot-1, 192-pound transfer from East Mississippi Community College, was encouraged by making a big play in the scrimmage.

“I picked Aaron Murray off,” he said Thursday with a big smile.

Fluker’s in the mix at strong safety along with Connor Norman and Corey Moore.

“They let me know bringing me in from JUCO, that I’m going to get some PT right away,” Fluker said. “I’m not saying it’s going to be difficult, but there’s going to be a part where I’ve got to learn quick about how a defense runs and knowing what I have to do and what place I have to be.”

The need for Wiggins and Langley to help right away became more pressing when Wilkerson, who already earned a rotation spot this spring, was lost for the season earlier this summer.

Wilkerson and Langley were summer roommates and Wilkerson helped him with the playbook after he arrived to campus.

The 6-foot-1, 192-pound Langley and the 5-foot-10, 165-pound Wiggins offer different body types in the secondary.

“Shaq, we all know he’s a feisty little dude,” Langley said. “He’s a great cover corner. He’s coming up and making big plays in the running game. You really can’t ask for more.”

Langley has worked at the star nickel position and field and boundary corner. Wiggins has worked both boundary and field.

“Our freshmen, they’re good,” Johnson said. “This is Georgia. This is the SEC. They’re not going to hire no sorry players.”

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