Georgia’s J.R. Reed feeling right at home for NFL draft

J.R. Reed figures he has spent about four months at home in Frisco, Texas, over the past four years. Until this year, that is. He has spent the past four months with his family in that northern suburb of Dallas.

That's among the hidden blessings Georgia's senior safety lists has experienced during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

“It’s very nice to be at home just enjoying family time,” Reed said this week. “We’re hanging out with each other, having fun, playing card games. The other day we had a family Olympics. I’ve just been trying to enjoy it as much as I can because I know once this ends, I won’t see them for months.”

Reed is among a dozen Georgia players hoping to get a call during the NFL draft, which gets under way Thursday night with the first round and concludes Saturday with the final four of seven rounds. A senior safety and captain for the Bulldogs' defense, Reed made the somewhat controversial decision to skip the team's trip to the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans in favor of heading on home to begin training for a pro career.

» MORE: Changes to expect this NFL draft

But that’s another blessing about Reed being home. He has been able to receive excellent training there.

His is not the run-of-the-mill household where mom is trying is to stuff him with homemade pies and casseroles. There are a lot of athletic families in the world, but there could be none more able-bodied than the Reeds of Frisco.

His father, Jake, was a standout NFL receiver with the Minnesota Vikings and New Orleans in a career that spanned 12 seasons. That’s well-known. But Reed’s mother, Vinita, competed in gymnastics and was a cheerleader at Grambling. And his sister, Jaevin, is a senior and an All-American sprinter at Texas A&M.

So when Reed speaks of a family Olympics, this is a group that can compete in a real one for their respective age groups.

Meanwhile, Reed has been able to continue to work out with private trainers in adherence of local guidelines. He has kept up a regimen he enlisted in preparation for the NFL combine in February. For that reason, Reed believes he is in the best football condition he has been in his life.

Reed’s draft profile lists him at 6-foot-1, 202 pounds. At the combine, he ran a 4.54-second 40-yard dash and was among the best at his position in almost every drill. Historically, safeties have been all over the board in the draft, but Reed consistently is rated among the top 10 heading into the draft.

» ALSO: Top 10 safeties in 2020 draft

But predicting what might happen therein is an exercise Reed simply won’t engage in. It’s not that it doesn’t matter because there are obvious financial rewards to when a pro prospect is drafted. But Reed also will remind you nobody was expecting much out of him coming out of Prestonwood Christian as a 169-pound defensive back or when he decided to leave Tulsa to transfer to UGA in 2016.

“I have big expectations for myself no matter where I go or what team I play on,” Reed said. “I’m going to make an impact; I already know that. I already know my value and what I bring to the table. That’s what I did at Georgia. I bet on myself and came there. So I’m ready for it. I’m ready to go to work for whoever gets me.”

Reed transferred to UGA and redshirted during Kirby Smart’s first season in 2016. Then he took over as free safety in 2017 and started every game the rest of his career, 42 in all. Reed finished with first-team all-conference honors from SEC coaches this past season and concluded his career with 199 tackles, five interceptions, 14 pass break-ups and three sacks.

Credit: Bob Andres

Credit: Bob Andres

Based on that and his combine performance, Reed has done all he can for NFL teams. Nothing else is in his control.

Reed said he’s comfortable with all that. He said the best advice he has gotten so far came from his father.

‘He told me, ‘just enjoy it because not everyone makes it here.’ He said he played with a lot of people in high school and college and not a lot them made it to this moment, that some truly great ones never got to this point. So I’m just going to take it all in because it’s a blessing and an opportunity most people don’t get to have.”

Meanwhile, Reed said the biggest drawback to the isolation caused by the pandemic is not being able to get back to Athens since he left. He is counting the days until he can return to the place he spent 11 months of each the past four years.

“Hopefully there’s a season, and I can come back for a game,” Reed said. “Athens and Georgia are definitely dear to my heart, and I’m thankful for everything the Dogs’ fans did for me and for accepting me for who I am.”

As for the Georgia defense that eventually will press on without its star free safety, Reed said fans need not fear.

“They’re going to do well,” Reed said. “There are a lot of guys there that are ready to eat. They’re tired of hearing about me, honestly.”