October 21, 2010

Commings set at cornerback

When Sanders Commings first arrived on campus three summers ago, Georgia coaches were in a dilemma about what to do with the former Westside-Augusta star.

Which position would he play?

Even head coach Mark Richt admitted that turned out to be a thorny decision to make.

At 6-foot-2 and 212 pounds, Commings had the build to be a prototypical safety. But as he was able to quickly prove, he had the speed, hips and flexibility to play cornerback as well.

But wonder no longer.

Not only is Commings getting considerable playing time at corner opposite junior Brandon Boykin, but he's since overtaken senior Vance Cuff for the other starting role.

By the looks of his recent efforts, Commings isn't about to surrender the job anytime soon.

Entering Saturday night's game at Kentucky, Commings has established himself as a big-time playmaker in the Bulldog secondary where he currently ranks fourth on the team in tackles with 24 and interceptions with two.

"He's a guy that you aren't sure if he's a safety or if he's a corner. He has that body type where he's big enough and physical enough to be a safety. We have a good many safeties right now. We have some guys who we think can play with (Alec) Ogletree coming in and Nick (Williams) staying at safety," Richt said. "You have Jakar (Hamilton) coming in, so it kind of freed us up to move him to corner. He has the skills to play corner. He has good ball skills. He's very athletic, he's fast and you want bigger corners if you can get them."

Secondary coach Scott Lakatos certainly agrees with that.

When he first arrived from Connecticut, Lakatos talked in depth about wanting to recruit taller corners to Georgia. Little did he initially know that one was already at his disposal.

"Those are things he's bringing, and he's learning, too. He's still a youngster," Lakatos said. "The good thing about him, he understands what's going on around him, he asks good questions."

Commings certainly isn't complaining about how his career has started out.

"They told me that I could play corner or safety when I came in, so I was pretty much open to anything. My freshman year, I played a little bit of both. My redshirt freshman year, I started at safety and then towards the end of the season, I started to work in at corner," Commings said. "Since then, I've been at corner. I think that the positions are very similar. I feel like playing safety is just like playing corner except with a little bit more space between your man. If I had to pick one, I think that I'd want to play corner."

Based on his present results, don't look for Commings to move anytime soon.

His interception last week against Vanderbilt helped Georgia win the all-important turnover battle for the second week in a row.

"We were hoping that he would just gain confidence as he went and be able to start making plays for us and be able to match up against pretty good sized receivers. He's done all those things, but I think he's done it through listening to coach (Scott) Lakatos, trying to do it exactly the way he says do it. He's earned himself a lot of playing time."

Strange thing is, Commings went about it in somewhat of a different way.

Whenever Commings would get into games, his intensity level and focus would rise past the level that he typically showed in practice.

Once he was able to show Lakatos he could practice the same way, the starting job became his.

"He basically told me to practice like I play," Commings said. "He thought my effort in the game was a lot better than what I had been showing,, so once I started going harder in practice, my opportunity came."

Lakatos laughed that he hasn't given Commings any special words of wisdom since inserting him into the starting role.

"I didn't tell him anything, I just moved him in there. He just started to practice harder, started to be sharper mentally and communicate better with everybody," Lakatos said. "He's deserved the chance to play."

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