ATHENS, Ga. — Malaki Starks's start to his career at Georgia might surprise some Bulldog fans, but for those who watched him play at Jefferson, it's nothing unusual.
Starks starred at Jefferson High School, where he played multiple positions, so when the true freshman got the chance to get on the field against Oregon in Week 1, he delivered.
Starks, a true freshman, led the team in tackles, coming off the bench while snatching his first-career interception against Oregon.
Last week, he grabbed his second interception and returned it for 42 yards. He recorded three tackles to move to the top of the team leaderboard for tackles.
Georgia coach Kirby Smart said he knew Starks was a great athlete when he was a freshman in high school but still doesn't know how good he will be.
"He's a great kid. He has a wonderful family with very disciplined parents. He was raised in a great family home," Smart said. "You knew right away he had great respect. When he walks in to talk to you, he looks you in the eye. Yes, sir, no, sir. He knows what he is supposed to do. We already knew he was a tremendous athlete. He ran really fast and jumped really high when he was a ninth grader here. I talked to his dad that day, and we knew he was going to be some kind of special player. We just didn't know how good he was going to be, and I still don't think we know."
"We just found out today on the practice field that there are a lot of things he can improve on and work on," he said. "He's got to get better. He's made some good plays, but he's also been gifted on some plays. He's been lucky sometimes when he had his eyes in the wrong spot that we have to keep working with him on."
The Bulldogs (3-0) will play host to Kent State on Saturday. Kick-off is set for noon on SECN+ and ESPN+.