Who would you rank as the coaches most important to UGA’s success?”
That question was recently posed to me by a DawgsCentral subscriber in response to a piece of intel that I posted on our forum. I started to type out a response, but a couple sentences in I realized that the answer to the question is quite complex. To make such a list, one must make broad value judgments on what assets are most important to a modern college football program.
When thinking about the answer I also found myself thinking about an old football cliche… "It's not the X's and the O's but the Jimmys and the Joes." That got me considering the players who will suit up on gamedays for Georgia next fall. Good gameplans and great play calls are key to any team’s success, but they are usually only as good as the personnel executing them.
With that in mind, I decided to broaden the scope of these rankings beyond just members of the coaching staff. As I go through this list I will touch on every position room and virtually every facet of the Georgia Football program. In that way, it will serve as both my version of a spring practice preview and a look at the state of the program.
Today we kick the rankings off with #23. Since we are a newer website and this might be your introduction to DawgsCentral, the first few entries in this series will not be paywalled. As we get further down the list it will become a subscriber’s only feature.
So without further adieu, here are the 23 people most crucial to UGA’s success in the year 2023. Whether or not Georgia is able to win a third straight championship, and how they go about trying to do it, will be largely influenced by the roles these individuals play.
#21 - Daylen Everette
In the last installment of this series I detailed the importance of Fran Brown to the UGA football program and the season that lies ahead. Today we are going to look at the player who could be the next defensive back molded by the UGA defensive brain trust. That player is rising sophomore corner Daylen Everette.
Everette was a one-time Clemson commit who was courted heavily by both UGA and Alabama before flipping his commitment and signing with the Bulldogs in the Class of 2022. He was a five-star prospect according to some recruiting services and came to UGA from IMG Academy after starting his career in Norfolk, Virginia.
Everette is 190-pounds. He has a decent frame for a corner at 6’1” but his 33-inch arms give him extra length. He possesses 4.4 speed and loose hips that allow him to stay with better route runners.
Here’s the thing about Everette… Going back to his high-school days, everyone who coached him or interviewed him talked about his mature mindset. He is a tough-minded kid who takes coaching well. There is a learning curve for any young player who shows up on UGA’s campus and has to learn the ropes, but Everette had a shorter curve than most.
Sources close to the Georgia program raved about Everette all through his freshman fall camp and the 2022 season. If you want to play CB for Kirby Smart’s defense you have to be able to do a few things. Before anything else, you must be a willing tackler and come downhill to defend the run. Everette does that well. His stout frame lets him shed blockers. Smart’s best CB’s have always been strong with their hands and excellent in press coverage as well. We have seen limited snaps of Everette in a college game, but he has flashed those skills already.
Everette had a bigger role on the 2022 Georgia team than many know. His play in practices was strong enough for him to push Ringo and Lassiter, and Smart used his emergence to help ensure his players were focused during every rep. If his starters made a mental error or played poorly for a stretch in practice then Smart would pull him out of drills and put Everette in with the first team defense. Those reps gave Everette valuable experience against Georgia’s top receivers and he made the most out of those opportunities.
That same philosophy played out late in the second quarter of the Vanderbilt game. Ringo lined up as Georgia’s right boundary CB almost always in 2022, but on this drive he and Lassiter were flipped from their usual spots in the formation. Lassiter made errors on consecutive completions thrown to Vandy’s Will Sheppard. Smart inserted Everette into the CB1 slot in the middle of the drive. On the next play, Vandy targeted Sheppard. Everette knocked him off the route and forced him inside and Shepard made a tough contested catch for a 3-yard gain. On the very next play the Commodores tried to target him down the boundary and Everette was in his hip pocket to break up the pass.
Most of his 141 snaps came late in blowouts, but it was clear all season long that Everette was the first man off the bench at the corner position.
Ringo excelled at getting off blocks against screens and tackling ball carriers in space. If Everette is able to win the job opposite of Lassiter there shouldn’t be a large dropoff in the run stopping production the Georgia defense gets from its corners. It has been made clear that Everette understands Georgia’s defensive scheme. Understanding coverage switches and zone rules will be important as the Bulldogs also break in a new safety in 2023.
Georgia’s defense returns more production than any national champion in a long time. If Everette is able to step in and play at a high level it could go a long way towards making this unit good enough to be one of the best Georgia fans have ever seen.
It would be an upset if Everette isn’t a starter this season. The high level of play he showed as a freshman contributed to the transfer of fellow five-star 2022 CB recruit Jaheim Singeltary. He will have to continue his development throughout spring practice and fall camp to earn that role. Kamari Lassiter had an excellent first season as a starter in 2022, but if Everette starts to reach his potential he could be playing the CB1 role on for Georgia as it pursues a three-peat.