ATHENS - Blake Sailors does not lack for confidence. Or honesty.
In his first two years at Georgia, the former walk-on has become known as a special-teams standout who gets teased by teammates for being faster than, er, you might expect by looking at him.
But now with the attrition at cornerback, Sailors has a chance to play on defense - if he can figure out how to actually play cornerback.
Even though he's been listed as a cornerback the past two years, he said he has a lot of catching-up to do. And Sailors is fairly candid about it.
"I've been there for a couple years so I should know the defense. But I don't really, because I haven't really tried to learn it," Sailors said. "But this year I'm really focusing on all of like the little simple, key things, and exactly what I'm supposed to do. Because with these guys being out, someone has to step up so I really want to be that guy."
Sailors said he's been working with the second-team in spring practice so far, along with guys like Damian Swann and Malcolm Mitchell. The Bulldogs have still been running Sanders Commings and Branden Smith with the first-team, but Commings is already suspended the first two games, and Smith is likely out at least one game too.
Mitchell was moved over from offense, at least temporarily, to help out. Otherwise the Bulldogs have decided to make do with what they have, not even moving a safety down to cornerback. Sailors, who played safety in high school, is getting his shot.
"Being someone who didn't come in here on scholarship I'm not being mentioned," he said. "But hopefully I can show the coaches something and hopefully get out there and maybe start the first game, or at least play a lot."
Sailors grew up in Athens and went to Oconee High School, where he finished third in the state in the 300-meter hurdles. He walked on at Georgia in 2009, then waited a year to see the field. He started making a name for himself on special teams in 2010, appearing in 13 games, making seven solo tackles and recovering a fumble against Tennessee.
He was awarded a scholarship prior to last season. He didn't disappoint, appearing in every game, matching his tackle total and forcing a fumble at Vanderbilt.
Sailors hasn't been told whether he's back on scholarship, but he's assuming that. Getting that scholarship was his main goal when he arrived at Georgia.
"My parents were so proud of me. My grandparents. Everybody," he said. "People thought I couldn't do it, and I came out here and earned a scholarship my third year."
Speed is Sailors' hook, but he's hoping to add cover skills to his reportoire. He said that his focus on special teams the past two years prevented him from learning techniques of playing cornerback.
Whatever happens, his speed allows him to get his foot in the door. As Sailors puts it: "I'm definitely fast enough to play in this league."
He also rates himself as one of the three fastest players on the team. His teammates have learned to respect that.
"We'll watch film and they'll be like, 'Damn, that white boy he's fast,' and that kind of thing," Sailors said, smiling. "So I'm still a white boy but I've got respect."
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