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Georgia gives Jones room to roam as free safety.


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Georgia gives Jones room to roam as free safety

By CHIP TOWERS

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Monday, August 25, 2008

Athens — As a young man growing up in Atlanta, Reshad Jones said he never considered playing football at the University of Georgia.

“I just always wanted to get away for the college life,” Jones said. “I always wanted to go to Miami. I said, ‘If I got a scholarship offer from Miami I want to go there’ because I knew about the great line of safeties they had produced.”

Jones eventually did receive that scholarship offer from Miami — and about 100 or so other Division I schools. By the time he was a senior at Booker T. Washington High, he was rated the No. 1 safety in America. Everybody wanted him, Miami and Georgia among them.

Jones ended up with the Bulldogs. Three years later, they’re the No. 1 team in the country and Jones is their starting free safety.

So what happened?

“I did my research, I did my homework on Georgia, and I found out some pretty interesting facts about Georgia safeties as well,” said Jones, now a redshirt sophomore with the Bulldogs. “I met [Greg] Blue and Tra Battle [former UGA safeties]. I heard some things about Thomas Davis and Sean Jones and I knew they were All-Americans. …

“And I knew I wouldn’t be too far away from my home in Atlanta. At the end of the day, I felt pretty good about coming here.”

Georgia certainly feels good about Jones’ choice. For many years, the Bulldogs struggled to get the best players out of the city of Atlanta. They watched as Tennessee came in and snatched Jamal Lewis, Deon Grant and Cosey Coleman, where they eventually laid claim to a national championship.

Increasingly under coach Mark Richt and recruiting coordinator Rodney Garner, the Bulldogs have been able to convince Atlanta’s best that they can make their dreams come true just 65 miles to the east.

In addition to Jones, there are three other Atlanta natives that will play significant roles for Georgia this season. Defensive end Roderick Battle (Douglass High), linebacker Akeem Dent (Douglass) and offensive left tackle Kiante Tripp (Westlake) are all slated to start for the Bulldogs. Freshman Cordy Glenn (Clayton County’s Riverdale) is also set to start the first game at right guard.

“I think if you treat people with respect and dignity and honesty — and I’m not talking just about the players but about the coaching staffs and the schools — and you let them know you want their guys, you want their players, you do your due diligence to get their interest and I think it comes around,” Richt said. “A lot of it had to do with their staffs believing in us and believing in what we’re trying to accomplish and how we’re going about it. I think that helped.”

Signing top-rated players is nothing new for Georgia but prospects don’t always live up to the billing, and Jones’ was considerable. He was an AJC Super 11 selection and Rivals.com rated him not only as No. 1 safety but also as the No. 1 player in the state of Georgia.

Such accolades would come back to haunt both Jones and the Bulldogs when they made the decision to redshirt him in his first season.

Jones wanted no part of sitting out a season and he told the coaches so.

“When I first came in I’d say I was kind of selfish,” Jones said recently. “I just wanted to come in and play. I was just thinking about me and not about the team. But really I wasn’t ready mentally or physically. I didn’t really understand the scheme or know all the plays. I would have been just taking myself away from making plays.”

That’s definitely not the case anymore. Toward the second half of last season, Jones’ second, he began to blossom. Playing primarily as a backup, he led the safeties with 57 tackles and he had two interceptions, none bigger than the one against Georgia Tech in the last game of the regular season. At the end of spring, he was named “most improved defensive back.”

Because of Jones’ development, the Bulldogs moved senior CJ Byrd to strong safety to give Jones room to roam as starting free safety.

“Now I feel like I’ve really bought into the system,” Jones said. “I know the playbook and I feel like I’ve gotten bigger and stronger. So I’m ready to produce and help our team win games.”

Richt also believes Jones is ready.

“I’m really proud of Reshad because he has really tried very hard to do things the Georgia way,” Richt said.

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Yeah, special dude. Do you guys grow your safeties on a farm somewhere?

Mark richt has done a great job of finding talents like battle and kellin johnson, but of course reshad was a stud right away so he didn't have to look far for him.. Reshad Jones is going to be something special man this year. I have seen him progression and it's great that he was redshirted and is all about team..

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