ATLANTA — In case anyone was wondering about the Georgia football mentality, in terms of potential for complacency, junior defensive back J.R. Reed provided some insight.
“The ultimate goal is to win the natty, and the SEC Championship doesn’t mean anything if you don’t win the national championship,” Reed said Tuesday morning at the Omni Hotel, moments before attending SEC Football Media Days at the College Football Hall of Fame. “So that’s where we are right now.”
Georgia football fans, of course, can and will enjoy the memories from the historic march Coach Kirby Smart led the Bulldogs on in only his second season.
The win at Notre Dame, the SEC title victory over Auburn and come-from-behind victory over Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl all featured oil painting moments.
But the Georgia football locker room plans to stay on edge, knowing how dangerous an enemy complacency can become.
Smart doesn’t exactly tell his players what to say, but he has a pretty good idea who the leaders are, and which players will send the right message.
“(Reed) played really well for us last year and was not afraid to step up and say things that needed to be said last year,” Smart said. “We expect those same things from him. Here’s a communications major.”
Reed, who started all 15 games last season after sitting out the 2016 campaign following his transfer from Tulsa, does not take the responsibility lightly.
“That means the world to me Coach Smart believes in me like that,” Reed said. “Since I got here, Coach Smart has coached me very hard.”
And now it’s Reed’s turn to know when and how to be hard on his teammates and help hold the defense accountable.
“Other guys have to step up to the plate like those guys did last year,” Reed said, asked about the leadership void on defense, with only four starters returning.
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“It’s time for guys like Terry (Godwin), Jonathan (Ledbetter), me and other guys that are older to step up to the plate and lead this team.”
That’s exactly what Reed did Tuesday, handling his interview like the veteran presence he has become.
J.R. Reed Interview