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Georgia defensive back Tyrique McGhee (26) motions during a preseason practice in Sanford Stadium on Saturday, Aug. 17, 2019, in Athens, Georgia. Georgia will play its first game of the fall 2019 season away at Vanderbilt on Saturday, Aug. 31. (Photo/Julian Alexander)

Tyrique McGhee doesn’t box himself in at any one position.

McGhee has jumped from corner to safety to Georgia’s “star,” a defensive back-linebacker hybrid covering slot receivers and rushing the passer. But he doesn’t mind the uncertainty of his position, and he’s comfortable with moving around.

“[I] just love to play football,” McGhee said. “I can be a utility guy. Just whatever is needed.”

He said he feels confident in the star position because he’s seen a lot of snaps at that spot. Playing at star helped McGhee get a feel of the defense as a whole, and he thinks it’s a good position for players to understand the Bulldogs’ defensive scheme.

“Your best practice reps come in a game,” McGhee said. “A lot of times, you can try to make something look like you want to make it look in practice, but you won’t get that look until the game.”

But star might not be McGhee’s spot in 2019, since head coach Kirby Smart isn’t necessarily looking for McGhee to fill the role.

At 5-foot-10 and 187 pounds, McGhee is a smaller player than Smart would like to have at the position. Other defensive backs, like 6-foot-1 junior Mark Webb or 6-foot redshirt freshman Divaad Wilson, currently fit the mold Smart is looking for.

“We had to get a little bigger and more physical at [star],” Smart said on Aug. 21.

It doesn’t mean McGhee has no place on the Bulldogs’ roster. He holds a prominent role on special teams and said he’s prioritized the unit since his days under Chad Campbell at Peach County High School.

“If you want to be useful, you want to help your team, I think special teams is the best team to do it,” McGhee said.

In his freshman season, eight of McGhee’s nine total stops came in special teams play. Smart said he thought McGhee’s special teams play is “dominant,” and it’s likely that he’ll keep a spot there, even if he doesn’t keep one in the secondary.

When he’s not on the field, the senior plays a leadership role, helping younger players get adjusted to the playbook and defensive style under Smart and defensive coordinator Dan Lanning.

In his career, McGhee has seen action in 41 games and recorded nine starts. He caught an interception against Tennessee in 2017 and Florida in 2018 and has 57 total tackles to his name.

Even though McGhee doesn’t know where exactly he will fit in the 2019 defense, Smart said he won’t go without reps.

“I expect Tyrique to play a lot,” Smart said. “He is a very unique player, a utility guy that can play a little bit of everything, and we expect him to do that.”

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