Bullard's college career set for takeoff
For a first career college game, Javon Bullard certainly will be part of a doozy.
Bullard, Baldwin High Class of 2021, and his Georgia teammates will open the season on Sept. 4 in Charlotte against Clemson, a game widely regarded as the top non-conference matchup of the entire season. The Tigers begin the season ranked third and the Dawgs fifth.
The Georgia-Clemson game will mark the first time in 19 years that a Milledgeville guy has suited up for the Dawgs on scholarship. The last Milledgeville player to play for the Red and Black on scholarship was J.T. Wall, current head coach at John Milledge Academy and starting fullback for Georgia's 2002 SEC championship team.
Worth keeping an eye on is whether or not Bullard ultimately will redshirt this season. NCAA rules allow for true freshman to appear in four games, in any combination, without losing their redshirt year. So, in other words, Bullard definitely is expected to see the field at different points this season, most likely on special teams to begin things.
Georgia247 yesterday posted an article and offered a prediction for Bullard's freshman season, writing:
"We've heard enough about Bullard at this point to know that the staff is really high on him as a football player. He's not the biggest or fastest guy out there but he's a good athlete with the instincts and motor to be successful. He's behind a couple of other young defensive backs at this point but seeing as how he has seen action at the STAR/nickel position and UGA is paper-thin there, he might hear his name called sooner rather than later. His physical style of play is also something that Smart might want to try and use on special teams."
Georgia 247 predicted that Bullard would make the 10th-biggest impact out of the 20 Georgia true freshman currently on campus, based primarily on the fact that Bullard plays a position of need for the Dawgs – defensive back. Georgia returns a mere one starter this season in the secondary, and the problem is compounded by the fact that projected starting nickel back Tykee Smith is out with a foot injury.
Bullard, an early enrollee, took part in the Dawgs’ annual G-Day scrimmage game at Sanford Stadium in April and didn’t disappoint, leading the squad in tackles with seven.
Images courtesy of Mackenzie Miles and Tony Walsh, UGA Sports Communication
"Kirby’s already told Javon that he’s gonna have to play some corner(back) for them,” Baldwin Head Coach Jesse Hicks said at the time. “Personally, I think that Javon’s most natural position is safety or star (nickleback), but I certainly think that Javon has the ability to play all of them.”
In the spring game, Bullard showed plenty of willingness to lower his shoulder pads and hit somebody, despite being undersized, relative to Georgia’s other defensive backs. On the team’s official roster, Bullard is listed at 5-foot-11 and 180 pounds, making him the second-lightest scholarship defensive back on the roster.
“Making that leap from high school to the SEC, Javon is definitely going to have to put on some more weight, but he already knows that,” Hicks said. “You could see it out there on the field on Saturday. This isn’t high school anymore.”
Hicks, who says that his favorite college football team is Albany State, which is his alma mater, actually was a Florida Gators fan for a few unforgettable years, back in the day when Baldwin High graduate Maurice Hurt was playing for Florida. Although he’s now more of a tepid UGA fan, Hicks says that he’s very much looking forward to watching Bullard and the Dawgs play this fall.
“It’s a blessing,” the coach said. “I can’t wait.”