“Who is No. 20 on the Red Team’s defense?” That was a question I was asked a number of times back on April 22nd during Georgia’s G-Day game. That is J.R. Reed I would answer.
Often the reply to the answer would be another “who?” So, let me introduce you to Mr. J.R. Reed, the 6 foot 1 and 194 lbs Bulldog defensive back turning heads in practice.
J.R. is the son of former NFL wide receiver Jake Reed, who was drafted by the Minnesota Vikings in the ’91 Draft from Grambling State as pick 68 in the third round. He played for the Vikings from 1991-1999 as well as the 2001 season and with the New Orleans Saints during the 2000 and 2002 seasons. So it was no surprise that J.R. ended up following his dad’s footsteps and took up the game of football. He played his high school years at Prestonwood Christian Academy out in Plano, Texas where the three-star cornerback prospect committed to and signed with Tulsa as a class of 2015 early enrollee. Back in June of 2016, Reed decided to transfer to Georgia from Tulsa where he had played in 13 games as a true freshman for the Golden Hurricanes. Reed had to sit out last season at UGA due to NCAA transfer rules.
Then came spring camp 2017 and it didn’t take long for the transfer defensive back to start turning heads in practice. In an April 8th post-practice press conference, Head Coach Kirby Smart singled out Reed and commented on the redshirt sophomore (at the 8:20 mark in the video below).
“Absolutely he could have a role. Right now, he’s flashing speed, athleticism, toughness. I’m tough on him. I’m out there every day challenging this guy because I think he can be a really good player. He’s fast; he’s physical. He’s smart, but he hasn’t played many games, he hasn’t played in this system,” said Smart. “… He’s striking people. He’s running hard; he’s playing hard. We saw some of that last year. It’s hard on the scout team because you’re not allowed all the time to knock them out and hit them, but he made a few flashes today, some plays, to where he could crack the starting lineup if he keeps doing what he’s doing.”
Reed practiced and earned his way to play with the number one Red Team defense for Georgia’s G-Day game back on April 22nd and played well. He finished with six tackles on the day, which was second most on the Red Team and third overall on the day, and a pass break-up. It was probably the first time many fans saw J.R. Reed or heard of his name.
Fast forward to Fall Camp 2017, and Kirby is once again praising Reed in a post-practice presser. In fact, it looks like J.R. is in the running to be one of the starters when the Dogs go to their Nickel package on defense. After Tuesday’s practice, this is what Coach Smart had to say about Reed (at the 4:35 mark in the video below).
“J.R. Reed… Here’s a kid that we took as a transfer and we didn’t know a lot about him. We thought he was a good player. We knew his family, his dad. When he first got here, we knew he was fast, but he didn’t know everything,” said Smart. “He really did a good job learning everything last year on scout team and during the spring. He was one of the surprises of the spring. I would reserve judgment right now because he’s only got two days’ body of work. But when we go nickel, which we are a lot, then he’s become a starter. He’s very intelligent, fast, a good tackler. He’s been one of the surprises in an area where we needed him. So he’s playing the position that A.D. (Aaron Davis) played and A.D.’s playing the position that Mo (Maurice Smith) played. If somebody can play that Star better than A.D., then he might go back there with J.R. But if A.D. can play the safety position better than J.R., he might go back there. But we going to kinda mixing some parts back there, so we can have some injury answers.”
Of course, as Coach Smart said, there have only been 2 days of fall camp and the players have only been in shorts, but Reed shows no signs of slowing down based on his progress from last year. Did I mention that J.R. is also the cousin of freshman defensive back Deangelo Gibbs?
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