Moore a key to Georgia secondary

Moore a key to Georgia secondary

March 21st, 2014 by David Paschall in Sports - College

Georgia safety Corey Moore wraps up Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall during last November's game in Auburn. Moore is a rising senior whose leadership will be needed this year.

Photo by Contributed Photo/Times Free Press.

It wasn't long ago when tailback was the position at Georgia that was equal parts talent and mischief.

Caleb King, Washaun Ealey and Isaiah Crowell were hyped recruits who excelled at times before being dismissed for various reasons, but now it's the safety spot causing some concern. Josh Harvey-Clemons was dismissed last month by coach Mark Richt for violating team rules, and Tray Matthews was arrested Monday night on multiple counts of theft by deception.

Richt has not announced the punishment for Matthews and the three other players who were involved.

"I think the safety position is still going to be OK," senior safety Corey Moore said by phone Thursday night after practice. "We still have guys even if something happens to Tray, and that's a situation that's up to Coach Richt and [athletic director] Greg McGarity. We have great guys like Quincy Mauger and Kennar Johnson, so we'll be fine back there and won't skip a heartbeat."

The Bulldogs held their second spring workout Thursday and will practice for a third time Saturday afternoon.

Harvey-Clemons was a top-50 national prospect in 2012, as was Matthews in 2013. They were on track to be a stout tandem this year, but Moore and Mauger are expected to be the first-teamers until Richt decides what to do with Matthews.

A 6-foot-2, 214-pounder from Griffin, Ga., Moore played in 12 of 13 games last season and made seven starts. He recorded 35 tackles, three tackles for loss and an interception, with his most memorable play coming in a fourth-quarter sack in the win over Florida.

Mauger also made seven starts last year as a true freshman, while Johnson redshirted after transferring from Gulf Coast (Miss.) Community College.

Despite the instability at his position, Moore is quite optimistic about the months ahead because of new defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt.

"Coach Pruitt is a great coach and a great guy, and I love the way he coaches," Moore said. "He's straightforward, and I'm ready to play for him and win the national championship, because that's our goal. Everybody is buying in, and that's the biggest thing."

In his first three seasons, Moore played for defensive coordinator Todd Grantham, who oversaw the outside linebackers. Pruitt is Georgia's first defensive coordinator overseeing the secondary since Willie Martinez in 2009.

"I don't want to take anything away from Coach Grantham, but Coach Pruitt is more hands-on technique wise," Moore said. "It's better for the defensive backs, because we have a defensive coordinator back there who basically knows everything. He's our coach, and we can ask him any questions.

"I know a lot of coaches are like that, but I think having Coach Pruitt back there with us will be a big plus."

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524.