ATHENS — Georgia freshman safety Lewis Cine had a strong start to his college career at G-Day. He led all Bulldogs with his six solo tackles.
The head coach also gave him some praise in the post-game media briefing.
“He’s an exciting player,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said. “He’s probably behind from a learning curve standpoint because we teach a lot of defense to our secondary.”
Based on what he’s seen so far, Smart feels Cine can earn some playing time this fall.
“He’s made some ‘Wow’ plays this spring but that doesn’t mean he is going to go out there and start,” he said. That means he is competing for playing time.”
Here’s what we know about the nation’s No. 3 safety prospect from the last cycle: Cine is long and rangy and physical. He even tied for the team-high in total tackles with his eight stops on G-Day.
Smart and new defensive backs coach Charlton Warren see he has an aptitude for versatility. It might even be necessary.
Cine is one of only three defensive backs in the 2019 signing class for Georgia. That means what the fans saw at G-Day is what they will get. That’s at least in terms of new faces for 2019 in the secondary.
That’s why Georgia is trying him in different roles.
J.R. Reed is a fixture at one safety spot. Junior Richard LeCounte III and sophomore Otis Reese are also seen as the program’s other front-line safeties. Cine has the potential to add quality depth.
“We’re making him play both safety spots which is probably more taxing on him but that gives us the ability to play him at either spot if anybody gets injured,” Smart added in response to a question about Cine’s progress. “He’s going to be competing with guys with playing time. I think where he is going to show up is on special teams. He is very physical. Likes contact. He is a hitter.”
As Smart noted, that was no secret to watching Cine on film.
The Boston native can run that alley. The ability he showed on Saturday already makes him one of the most fundamentally sound tacklers in the Georgia secondary at this time.
He goes about 6 feet, 3 inches and weighs in around 195 pounds. The fact he is being cross-trained at the free and strong safety says something about his aptitude for absorbing the defensive playbook.
“He is a guy that listens more than he talks so that’s always a good thing,” Richard LeCounte III said this spring. “He learns quick. He’s also learning two positions just like me so we’re really going through the same things and we [do] walkthroughs and do drills and stuff like that I sit there and talk to him and say such-and-such and this and stuff like that.”
LeCounte added this: When Cine gets the mental aspects of the game dialed in, he can be an “awesome” player for Georgia.
Fans already have a reaction to Lewis Cine
His last name will phonetically rhyme with “scene.” It seems like one which fans might want to get to know.
DawgNation has noticed some chatter on its forums and other social media posts have fans called him that ‘Dawg in the “Six-Cine” jersey after G-Day.
That meshes with the goals Cine had for himself before he enrolled in January.
“What I see of myself is I am a problem solver,” Cine said back in December. “If there is a hole in the defense, then I can come up and be the solution.”
He doesn’t mind obstacles. That includes placing bigger hurdles in his own path. That’s why he was a highly-rated recruit in Massachusetts after his junior year. He was getting offers and his size, speed and length got his name out there.
It wasn’t enough.
He transferred from the Boston Metro area to a region more known for big-time high school football. Cine moved to Texas. He found plenty of 110-degree training days playing for Trinity Christian about an hour outside of Dallas.
That wasn’t enough.
He was under the tutelage of a true NFL all-time great there in Deion Sanders. When it came time to make his college decision, he looked at big-time options like Florida, Michigan, Penn State and Texas.
But Cine has an even better story than that. He wears No. 16 and plays safety for Georgia. That’s the same number and position that Kirby Smart once held down for the Bulldogs.
But that’s not why that No. 16 he wears will be special. Not to him.
Cine told DawgNation that specific story when he was a recruit. He wears No. 16 to honor his mother. She had him when she was 16 years old. Cine realizes her life was hard then. He knows she made many sacrifices back in her native Haiti.
He wears No. 16 to honor her. If he makes it very big in football, his hope is to one day move her stateside to America. That is when he can see her again.
One more thing to know about Lewis Cine
Cine had an unexpected reaction to Georgia’s tough loss to Alabama in the 2018 SEC Championship game. The term “boundless optimism” applies.
“The question is not ‘Can Georgia keep up and ball with Alabama?’” he wrote back in December. “Nah, that’s not it. Because no doubt in my mind we definitely can. The question is how can we chase perfection and what can make us the absolute best team we can be. To outwork yesterday and the past!”
His words conveyed the stuff of a pep talk for his class. But it was one from an incoming recruit.
“It is all in who believes and buys into what UGA is building,” he added.
There were plenty of 2019 signees who felt the same way.
“Ain’t no love lost for UGA even in a loss,” Cine stated.
“I’m only ready to arrive on campus to work and be put in the right spots to help chase the goal of perfection. Then everything else will take care of itself.”
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