Georgia football: Kirby Smart provides update on defensive back William Poole – 247Sports

  • September 13, 2022

Prior to the start of the season, Georgia defensive back William Poole was expected to be the team’s starting nickelback. That hasn’t been the case for Poole, and after missing Saturday’s game, it’s unclear what role the super senior will have going forward.
Georgia head coach Kirby Smart was asked about Poole on Monday as the Bulldogs prepare for their first road game of the season against South Carolina. Smart didn’t have much to share on the former starting nickel, only saying that what happens next with him is not clear.
“We’ll see on Poole,” Smart said. “Right now he just wasn’t in the lineup to play.”
Poole returned to Georgia for his super senior season and entered the offseason as the favorite to start at nickel. That job, however, was ultimately won by sophomore Javon Bullard, which left Poole relegated to a backup role.
Poole played against Oregon but did not record any tackles. He did not see the field last Saturday against Samford.
Prior to 2021, Poole played occasionally during his first four years at Georgia, having appeared in 22 of a possible 53 games. Despite playing a limited role during those seasons, Poole said he trusted the process, something made easier because he grew up a Georgia fan.
Poole’s 2021 season had a disappointing start given he was declared ineligible for the first four games due to academics. Looking back, Poole described that hiccup as a wake-up call.
“Since being here, they say one thing, and that’s how you do something is how you do everything,” Poole said during spring practice. “Whether you do good off the field and on the field, that kind of correlates. So I had to get myself together off the field in order to get myself together on the field.”
Poole got in the mix once he was eligible but still played sparingly during the regular season, as evidenced by only recording 4 tackles in eight games. His role, however, grew considerably before the SEC Championship Game, as he was tabbed the starting nickelback in place of Latavious Brini.
Poole’s first start since 2018 didn’t go as planned. The Georgia secondary was torched for 421 yards and 3 touchdowns, and the Bulldogs walked away with a painful 41-24 defeat.
While the loss stung, Poole explained it woke up something inside himself and his teammates.
“After that, you know, the whole team was kind of hungry. And I was hungry for myself because I didn’t have the best game, I thought,” Poole said. “I knew what I was capable of doing, so going into the next following weeks I just kind of locked in and just trusted my training.
Poole didn’t lose confidence in himself, and neither did his coaches. He said after the loss the coaches filled him in on what needed to be corrected but didn’t give him any sense that his newfound starting role was in jeopardy.
Luckily for Poole, his job wasn’t on the line after the Alabama loss. Luckily for Georgia’s coaches, Poole made their faith in him pay off.
Poole had a quiet game against Michigan in the College Football Playoff semifinals before showing out in the Bulldogs’ rematch with the Crimson Tide. Poole posted 4 tackles and a career-best 2 pass break-ups as Georgia fought for a chance to call themselves national champions.
Looking back, one of those pass break-ups may be the play that stays with Poole the longest.
Alabama trailed Georgia 19-18 with a little over seven minutes to go in the game when the Crimson Tide faced a third-and-12 from its own 23-yard line. Poole was in man coverage against Alabama wide receiver Agiye Hall, who initially lined up on the boundary side of the formation before motioning to the right into a bunch formation with two other receivers.
Poole pressed against Alabama receiver Slade Bolden then maintained inside leverage as Bolden raced downfield toward the line to gain. Alabama quarterback Bryce Young fired toward the middle of the field at the in-cutting Bolden, but Poole got a hand in front of Bolden and batted the ball away.
Poole roared with delight after the fact as teammates Chris Smith, Lewis Cine and Nakobe Dean celebrated his crucial stop.
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