MOBILE, Ala. — Javon Bullard brought his hard hat to the Senior Bowl, the Georgia safety ready to learn and get to work.

“There was a lot of similarities to what we do at Georgia, so it wasn’t a major transition,” Bullard said, reflecting on the practices leading up to the Senior Bowl game at 1 p.m. on Saturday (TV: NFL Network).

“We work a lot of the same defensive scheme, so it wasn’t too hard to transition at all.”

Bullard likely could hear the voice of his former head coach, Kirby Smart, in his head as he worked in skeleton drills against the nation’s top quarterbacks and receivers.

Bullard is a two-time CFP game MVP, winning the defensive awards in both the Peach Bowl and the title game in 2022.

But he chuckled when sharing that Smart was no less critical of him over the practice field microphone that the Georgia head coach famously roasts players with in workouts.

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“I heard my name all the time, even last year, he doesn’t give you a break, but that’s what you love about the guy,” Bullard said. “He’s honest with everybody, (and) everybody heard their name on the mic, from me to Ladd (McConkey) to Brock Bowers, he’s not shying away from anybody.”

Bullard certainly doesn’t shy away from contact, either.

Bullard will always be known for the end zone hit on Marvin Harrison Jr. that separated the Ohio State player from the ball in the CFP Peach Bowl, turning the momentum around in the game and saving a championship season for Georgia.

But to Bullard, it was just another player, and he’s actually more proud of his overall performance in the historic No. 1 vs. No. 1 battle against Tennessee earlier in the season.

The Vols entered the game as the CFP’s No. 1-ranked team — UGA was No. 1 in the media and coaches’ poll — and Tennessee was the trendy upset pick.

Georgia’s defense, however, was up to the challenge of shutting down the Vols’ prolific hurry-up offense.

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Smart had a hurry-up defense that was more effective, it turned out, and Bullard was on the back end making sure things stayed in order.

Tennessee didn’t manage a play of over 20 yards until there was less than five minutes left and the game was decided.

Georgia safety Javon Bullard is all over Tulane receiver Jha'Quan Jackson during practice for the Senior Bowl NCAA college football game, Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2024, in Mobile, Ala. (AP Photo/ Butch Dill) (Butch Dill/Dawgnation)

Bullard could surely find some things he could have done better against Tennessee, just as he was hypercritical of his practices at the Senior Bowl.

“I think I did smooth, definitely some technical errors that I could clean up, but that comes with the game,” Bullard said.

“Tackling, playing the ball, angles — you can always enhance your game. We have a saying, ‘better never rests.’ It doesn’t matter how good you think they are, there’s always something you can do better.

“I’m happy to be here competing against great athletes.”