Bullish on Baker

Brandon Sudge, Special
GA Varsity
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UGA Sports Communications

Deandre Baker is set to have a big role with the Bulldogs this season, and a lot of his needed development has taken place throughout spring practice.

The junior cornerback replaced Juwuan Briscoe in the later stages of the 2016 season, and is slotted to start full-time at the position in his third year. At 5-foot-11, Baker must focus on his skill set in order to overcome his lack of size, and has continued to do so – both from an individual and team aspect – as he heads into the last three practice before the G-Day spring game on April 22.

“It’s going great so far,” Baker said. “We’re getting after it, competing every day and trying to get better in the details. We want to do everything right to our full ability, and keep working hard.”

After only playing a total of nine games throughout his first two seasons at Georgia and working through a coaching change, it took time for Baker to become accustomed to the defensive unit.

Baker was a key contributor to the Bulldogs in 2016, collecting 31 total tackles, five pass deflections and two interceptions. Now, as he continues to learn the caveats of Mel Tucker’s defense, he only expects improvement.

“I’m getting to know more of the defense, and getting to know more positions,” Baker said. “I’m getting better, and everyone around me is making me better.”

Georgia has placed a focus on situational football throughout spring practice. Baker knows all too well that the lack of execution in the game’s latter stages cost the Bulldogs on multiple occasions.

“It allows us to project the real-game situation,” Baker said. “In a game, we’ll know how to respond when we get in a situation, whether we’re down or up by 10. Or if we have to get the ball back or something like that. (Georgia head coach Kirby Smart) pointed out games like Tennessee, Kentucky – which was a big one – and Auburn.”

Baker is now considered an upperclassman, which normally comes with the territory of leadership. The Bulldogs’ defensive backfield will welcome seven newcomers in 2017, two of which are already on campus.

Deangelo Gibbs and Richard LeCounte III have participated in spring practices as mid-year enrollees. As a result, Gibbs has emerged as a leading candidate to play at the Star position – replacing Maurice Smith.

Sophomore Tyrique McGhee is also competing for that role, nevertheless Gibbs is envisioned to have some type of impact in his freshman campaign.

“I don’t know where he’ll land, that’s up to the coaches,” Baker said. “I do see him working hard and he’s a very versatile player who can really help us this year.”

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