Tyrique McGhee shines bright as Georgia football’s next man up

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

As Sanford Stadium sparkled, the world turned dark for Georgia football last Saturday when cornerback Eric Stokes went down to injury. Tyrique McGhee shined bright, though, and the season still glitters.

Georgia football’s undersized and battered Tyrique McGhee accepted a position change from star and safety to cornerback last week.

One Foot Down called the resulting performance by Notre Dame quarterback Ian Book the second least effective performance of his career.

For McGhee and the Bulldogs, their performance was a Glory! Glory! moment.

Hard and soiled

Georgia football had just rolled back up the welcome mat Saturday when top cover cornerback Eric Stokes went down with an injury.

Transfer DJ Daniel was already subbing in at one corner for Tyson Campbell, and Kirby Smart replaced Stokes with the undersized McGhee.

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“Tyrique McGhee, he’s from Peach County, they make you hard and soiled, and you hit every day of practice, one of the toughest, most physical schools in the country,” Smart said.

Experience over talent

Talented freshman Tyrique Stevenson was also available to play in Stokes place, and there was more to the Smart decision than a quality prep education.

With junior college transfer DJ Daniel taking his first meaningful start against the Irish, the plan all week was to go with the experienced McGhee if Stokes went down.

“We had one corner out there who had never really started already on one side,” Smart said, “and we didn’t want to have two of them out there at a time.”

Hope for the best, expect the worst

Smart and his defensive staff anticipated the disaster of losing Stokes and being without two cornerback starters, repping McGhee at cornerback the week before the Notre Dame game.

He’s from Peach County, they make you hard and soiled.

With Daniel and McGhee locked on the Irish receivers, Book threw for 29 completions in 47 attempts for 275 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions.

The 62 percent completion percentage only netted a success rate of 38.3 percent. It was Book’s second lowest career success rate. With the Irish rushing for a meager 46 yards on the night, it wasn’t enough.

Preparation meets opportunity

With Stokes injured before three minutes had elapsed in the first quarter, no one expected a Glory! Glory! moment for the Georgia secondary. But McGhee had prepared, and he played Peach County tough.

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Glory! Glory! Mr. McGhee, and take the weekend off, you earned it.