Georgia football-culture-Kearis Jackson
Georgia Bulldogs wide receiver Ladd McConkey (84) celebrates his 17-yard touchdown catch with teammates during the third quarter against Mississippi State Bulldogs with fans at Davis Wade Stadium, Saturday, November 12, 2022, in Starkville, Mississippi. Georgia won 45-17. Jason Getz /

Kearis Jackson brilliantly sums up Georgia football culture: ‘You can’t have selfish guys on your team’

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Georgia football culture paramount for Kirby Smart, Kearis Jackson

ATHENS — Kearis Jackson is certainly capable of putting in better numbers than he has in 2022. You don’t make the kind of catches he did on Saturday for Georgia without having some sort of ability.

Through 10 games, Jackson has just 18 catches for 246 yards. He’s fifth on the team in yards and is currently looking up at running back Kenny McIntosh and tight ends Brock Bowers and Darnell Washington on the receptions leaderboard.

“When you have guys like that on your team, that’s what makes you successful. You can’t have selfish guys on your team because that just brings the negative energy around the offense.”

Jackson’s comments perfectly crystalize the importance of connection and why winning matters more than personal glory. In speaking with reporters on Monday, Jackson chuckled at the fact that he’s never won an SEC title in his five seasons at Georgia. With his birthday always falling during the week of the game, the wide receiver hopes to finally celebrate one this season.

Georgia will take on LSU on Dec. 3 in the 2022 SEC Championship Game. The Bulldogs have now made it to the SEC championship game for the fifth time in the last six seasons, something only Steve Spurrier’s Florida program has done since the SEC championship game came into existence in 1992.

In that span, Georgia has just one SEC title though. So you can understand why winning the SEC East does so little for this group of Georgia players.

They know they’re playing for bigger goals. It’s why the Georgia social media account doesn’t celebrate having the No. 1 ranking in any of the polls or why the team is more focused on beating Kentucky this week than prepping for LSU.

Jackson is far from the only Georgia player that could gripe about their numbers. If you wanted to make the case that Bowers should have far better numbers than he has on the season, you wouldn’t be wrong. A season ago he had 13 touchdown catches, yet to this point he has just four.

But Bowers, like Jackson, so perfectly fits the team culture that Smart has built. One that involves making personal sacrifices for the betterment of the team.

That isn’t always going to fly with every player in the program. Jermaine Johnson transferred out of Georgia because he felt he needed to put up better numbers to help his NFL draft numbers. Wide receiver Jermaine Burton largely made the same decision this past offseason when he left for Alabama.

Related: Georgia football winners and losers following SEC East-clinching win

To this point, Burton is having a better statistical season than Jackson. But Burton’s team won’t be playing for the SEC championship and likely has no shot at making the College Football Playoff.

Jackson wouldn’t make that deal. Most guys on the current Georgia team wouldn’t either. But Smart knows that some will, even if the Georgia coach spends more and more time trying to find guys who fit Georgia’s culture during the recruiting process.

“I don’t know that we’re better at it,” Smart said. “There’s no written script or perfect DNA quality that you say. You assume all players you sign are unselfish and care about the program and want to be here no matter what, but let’s be realistic, that’s probably not going to be the case.

“So you do the best job you can and you try to move that needle while they’re here because I don’t think that people are where you can’t change. I think you develop that and you get buy-in and you sell it through your older players, and the older players sell it to the younger players, and you win some and you lose some.”

Many of the contributors on this team were younger players on last season’s team. They saw the sacrifices made by Nakobe Dean, Jamaree Salyer and others. So now they know to do the same as Jamon Dumas-Johnson and Broderick Jones have stepped into bigger roles on this team.

NextGeorgia football winners and losers following SEC East-clinching win
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