UGA football players discuss first Fall 2023 practice
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UGA football players discuss first Fall 2023 practice

UGA Football
WR Arian Smith (11) and DB Julian Humphrey (12). Photo: Tony Walsh/UGAAA

UGA football players spoke on Thursday following Georgia’s first fall 2023 camp.

Georgia Bulldogs speaking to the media were wide receiver Arian Smith, inside linebacker Jamon Dumas-Johnson, wide receiver Ladd McConkey, and defensive back Javon Bullard.

Below is a transcript of the fall camp comments that was provided by UGA:

#11 | Arian Smith | WR | Jr.

On focusing with the possibility of a third-consecutive championship…

“By setting goals before then. You can’t set a goal that far ahead. We try to stay with what is important now. We can’t win a national championship right now. We’ve got to still practice and build the foundation for the season throughout fall camp to get to where we want to be.”

On the challenge of practicing against the defense and the 2023 team…

“It’s challenging. I can never relax. If I’m running through traffic with the ball or if I’m catching the ball, I have to focus on small things. I can’t have the ball loose or something, so it really makes you better going against them every day. This year’s team—obviously the young guys got a long way to go and will learn throughout camp. I feel like we’re just as good as we were last year on defense, so we’ve just got to practice and get better every day.”

On choosing to compete in football instead of track…

“It’s just the passion. You aren’t going to play football unless you love it. It’s just like camp, 14 days in the hotel, no access, not on social media, just cutting life off and focusing on football. I would say it’s the passion and the love for it. I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t like it. I would be running track or still trying to.”

#10 | Jamon Dumas-Johnson | ILB | Jr.

On learning from previous Georgia linebackers…

“One person I was close to when I was a freshman was Nakobe Dean. His work ethic, how he approached everything, basically says, ‘Hard work works.’ That’s what I took from him. If you work hard, it will eventually show off.”

On developing into a team leader on defense…

“I feel like that’s just my personality and who I am. I’m loud and energetic, which fits the qualities and characteristics to be a linebacker, especially here at Georgia. Being accountable, it’s about growing as a person and knowing when you were wrong. You can’t move past something unless you recognize that you were wrong, and that’s what I try to do. You can’t dwell on the past. If I dwell on the past, what do you think the rest of the defense is going to do? I’m one of the leaders of the defense, so you have to keep moving forward.”

On goals for the 2023 season…

“My goal is for the team to do what we came to do and set out to be who we set out to be. I’m not worried about my own goals anymore. During the team meeting, my coach showed us a lot of players who they had on the third team coming into the season that went in the first round of the NFL Draft. I swiped that off my mind. That’s really irrelevant to me now, the first teams, second teams, third teams. That doesn’t matter, especially when you see who was on the third team that went in the first round. I’m worried about our team. Team success brings individual success. That’s what I’m worried about.”

#84 | Ladd McConkey | WR | Jr.

On improvements during the offseason…

“Outside route running and controlling my body. I feel like I have always been athletic, but I didn’t know how to use it running my routes. I feel like that is one area that I have developed the most.”

On taking steps forward on offense…

“We had a lot of guys come back on the perimeter backfield. Our quarterbacks, it is not their first year in the system. They have been around. They have taken so many reps in practice. Being at our practice, y’all know the intensity of it and the demand they are put on. I am confident in it. I am confident in our coaches. I am looking forward to it.”

On the wide receiver group…

“What stands out is our depth. We have like three guys at every position that could go in and not skip a beat. We all have our different styles of play, but there are so many guys who can go in there and contribute. That is exciting. Stay fresh the whole time. I don’t think the defensive backs can rotate like that, so if we can always have fresh guys in there and go play fast, it will be special.”

#22 | Javon Bullard | DB | Jr.

On primarily playing safety this season…

“It’s really all on the plans of the coaching staff. I play whatever position they put me at. That’s my love for the game, and I embrace it. We pride ourselves on versatility. We come in here, and you don’t just think you’re playing one position. The more versatile you are, the more value you’re adding to yourself. I take pride in that, learning more positions. I would try to learn linebacker if I could. Really just embracing that and taking on that role, it’s not about you. It’s about the team, so whatever the team needs at that moment, at that game, I feel free to step in and fit wherever I see.”

On his propensity for hard hits…

“This game is physical. This place is physical, and it’s always going to be like that. It’s not because of certain players. It’s just the standard we hold within this organization. It was physical before I got here, and it’s going to be physical after I leave. So just the physicality that we bring, I pride myself on that. This game is physical. That’s never going to change, and you have to have that certain edge. Some guys aren’t as big as others, and you’ve got to have that certain swagger and that certain ego about yourself, not in a bad way, but in the sense that you step on the field and think, ‘This is the game that I love, and this is the game that I’m going to continue to play.’ It’s just passion and energy. Like I said earlier, I love this game, and that’s what you see on the field when I play, just really passionate energy.”

On using his natural instincts on the field…

“I take pride in watching film. I feel that football intelligence is one of the vital pieces that makes good players great players. When you can anticipate things happening before they even happen, that’s the difference between a PBU and an interception, and I take pride in things like that. Like I said, this game is about inches. I’ve seen teams lose games by inches and win games by inches. Just one false step can cost me an interception, or one false step and cause a player to catch a ball on me. I take pride in that, and I don’t take anything away from the man upstairs. I’m blessed and fortunate to be able to make the plays that I make and do the things that I do, and I show an immense amount of gratitude for that. Not everybody can play at this level, and I’m so blessed and grateful to be able to do so.”

The national champion Georgia Bulldogs are scheduled to open the 2023 season on Saturday, Sept. 2 against the UT Martin Skyhawks at Dooley Field at Sanford Stadium in Athens, Ga. (Buy Tickets).

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