When the Georgia Bulldogs take the field at the Sugar Bowl for a season-ending showdown with the Texas Longhorns, they’ll do so without one of their best, if not their best player, as junior cornerback Deandre Baker will not play, per a report from Seth Emerson of The Athletic.
Deandre Baker will NOT play in the Sugar Bowl, per Kirby Smart.— Seth Emerson (@SethWEmerson) December 27, 2018
An NFL-bound first-team All-American and the recently-minted Jim Thorpe Award recipient, which honors the nation’s top defensive back, Baker initially indicated earlier this month that he would, in fact, play in the Sugar Bowl.
”I’m playing in the Sugar Bowl,” Baker told 247Sports. “I just wanted to finish it right with my teammates, that’s all.”
The news that that’s no longer the case, of course, now leaves the Bulldogs defense without the nation’s top defensive back, and far more notably, will force Georgia to pit a pair of freshmen in Eric Stokes and Tyson Campbell against a Texas wide receiver corps that features the 6’6 Collin Johnson and the 6’4 Lil’Jordan Humphrey, which are just 130 yards shy of cementing themselves as the most productive pair in Longhorns history.
Campbell did start at the cornerback role opposite of Baker throughout the first 10 games of the season, while Stokes took over those duties for the final three games, but in any case, Georgia quite simply can’t replace a first-round NFL-caliber talent such as Baker in such short order.
The Longhorns and Bulldogs are set to square off on Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2019 at 8:45 p.m. ET.