Former Eastside, Georgia Bulldogs star Eric Stokes climbing NFL Draft charts thanks to hurry | Sports activities

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Until a few weeks ago, Georgia cornerback Eric Stokes was viewed by many as an underdog of the NFL draft, despite his All-America and All-SEC status.

But after his appearances at the NFL’s virtual combine and the UGA’s Pro Day, there’s likely only one person left to think like that about the 6-foot-1,195-pounder.

That would be Eric Stokes himself.

“I’m always the underdog and I love that underdog role,” the Eastside High School graduate said during a Zoom meeting with reporters in mid-March. “Keep me an outsider – I’m perfectly fine with that. I know that at the end of the day the cream rises to the top so I will eventually rise. “

Although Stokes is known for his speed and skill on the field, he improved his career prospects significantly – and potentially turned a lot of heads in the process – by running the 40-yard dash in 4.25 seconds in early March.

Due to the COVID pandemic, the NFL didn’t hold their annual combine this year, so Stokes ran the 40 at a televised workout in Florida. He then ran an unofficial 4.28 at the UGA Pro Day on March 17th. This year’s NFL Draft is scheduled for April 29th to May 1st.

“People are finally seeing my speed; They’re finally recognizing it, ”said Stokes, who came out in favor of the design at the end of the Bulldogs season. “You can actually see that I’m really that fast. So it’s amazing. “

Like hundreds of prospects across the country, Stokes admitted that he was disappointed that there wasn’t an NFL combine this year – which takes place annually in Indianapolis – but that doesn’t hold him back, so to speak.

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“This is still a dream come true,” said Stokes, who was a junior state sprinter with Eastside. “Of course, Indy would have been perfect if I just had the picture of myself driving the actual 40 … that was always a dream. But I still have the chance to make my dream come true. “

When asked what Stokes – a three-star recruit who dropped out of high school and wasn’t exactly a favorite at the start of the 2021 college football season – can bring to an NFL team, UGA coach Kirby Smart said : “Speed ​​Speed ​​and more speed is the first thing it can bring. “

Smart, who was also defensive during his college years, added that Stokes – who had four interceptions, four pass breakups, 20 tackles, and three quarterback rushes in 2020 – has a lot to offer besides athletic talent.

“He is a young man of high character who has done so much for our program,” said Smart. “People talk about the value he’s got on the field, the speed and the games he’s had, but for all the things he’s great at he’s a much better person than anything.

“He’s the guy who works in the Boys & Girls Club. He reads to young children all over Athens. He’s a big brother to a sister I know means a lot to him. He meant a lot to our organization and he will mean a lot to the next organization he goes to, both in and out of the field. “

Stokes, who played both sides of the ball in high school and wasn’t a corner kick until UGA, said his stock draft is improving to the point where there are analysts who believe he will have a first-round election He will turn his attention to plans and trends when his number is called and he returns to the field.

“It doesn’t matter what scheme I’ll be in,” he said. “It’s only my fourth year playing real defensive games. So you can put me in any kind of scheme and I’ll try to adapt as best I can. It might be a little rough to begin with, but once I’m there I can get started. “