UGA football roster: Is Eric Stokes the best cornerback in the nation?

COLUMBIA, MO - SEPTEMBER 22: Defensive back Eric Stokes #27 Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
COLUMBIA, MO - SEPTEMBER 22: Defensive back Eric Stokes #27 Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images) /

UGA football has one of the defensive backfields in the nation and one of the leaders of that group is redshirt junior Eric Stokes.

Passing against UGA football is a tall task. Passing against redshirt junior Eric Stokes is practically impossible.

The Covington native, who wasn’t even a top 600 player in the 247Sports Composite coming out of high school, was a second-team All-SEC selection last year. Stokes made 38 tackles last year and led the team with nine pass breakups. He punctuated his junior season with a sack-fumble against Tennessee which led to a touchdown pick up by Tae Crowder.

Stokes has appeared in 27 games since the season opener of 2018, and he has 16 starts since taking over the spot late in 2018. He was a co-winner of the Defensive Most Improved Player Award after his redshirt freshman season.

But the most important highlights of Stokes’ career do not show up in the regular stat sheet. Stokes is rarely targetted by opposing quarterbacks. He blankets wide receivers and rarely allows them to get open. Stokes doesn’t give up whenever a receiver does get open against him. He reels the receiver back in and is very physical once the ball hits the receiver’s hands.

Stokes is an underrated tackler, he shines against the run and against short passes, especially against screens. His 6-1, 185-lb. frame doesn’t look like it packs a punch, but ask Tennessee quarterback Brian Maurer how hard a solid hit from Stokes is. He is explosive with a clear lane to the ball carrier and he always wraps up.

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Stokes isn’t just a starter for 2020, he’s an All-American candidate. Stokes might be the best cornerback in the nation. He is an excellent cover-corner who loves to get physical in the rare instances the ball goes his direction.