Former Jefferson standout Redd finds himself starting with UGA’s first-team defense

Georgia defensive back Lucas Redd got the call to start for the Black Team in Georgia’s annual G-Day game Saturday at Sanford Stadium and experienced a day to remember.

A walk-on entering his final season for the Bulldogs, Redd was the Black Team’s second-leading tackler Saturday with six (along with linebackers Amarlo Herrera and Leonard Floyd), as the Red Team won 27-24 before an audience of some 46,000.

A member of the scout team in 2011 and 2012, Redd was in on a majority of snaps for his side Saturday and by all accounts did a credible job at the safety and star positions.

“This was a different experience for me, but getting to play every-down football was fun,” said the 6-foot-1, 207-pound rising senior. “I haven’t played that much since high school.”

Of course, back at nearby Jefferson High School, Redd rarely left the field. In his senior season with the Dragons — who went 11-1 in 2009 — the All-State linebacker recorded 100 tackles but also rushed for 652 yards and 12 touchdowns, posted 207 receiving yards and handled kickoffs for coach T. McFerrin’s team.

With defensive backs Tray Matthews and J.J. Green out for the day with injuries, Redd, junior Tristan Askew and redshirt freshman Aaron Davis were provided with the opportunity by defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt to contribute in the Bulldogs’ secondary.

“I think Coach Pruitt was trying different guys and moving guys around, trying to find the right fit,” Redd, who played on several special teams last season, said. “I’m just doing the best I can every day, trying to find a spot and working with everybody and trying to do what I’m told.”

And while nobody knows what the fall will bring, the odds aren’t bad that Redd will get the nod to play beyond special teams.

‚ÄúLucas has had a good spring,‚Äù coach Mark Richt said. ‚Äú(Pruitt) likes the fact that he knows how to line up and he knows what to do and is a pretty good tackler. He‚Äôs definitely competing for playing time and it‚Äôs legitimate for him to think he‚Äôs got a chance to play some scrimmage downs. … If you wonder if we‚Äôre telling the truth that this thing being wide open, look at (Redd, Askew and Davis) and the amount of reps they‚Äôre getting.‚Äù

“I’ve just got to keep working,” Redd, a two-time state wrestling champion at Jefferson, said. “I can’t predict the future, but I try to control what I can, which is attitude and effort every day. We’ll see what happens from there.”

Redd received positive reviews from teammates and opponents for his play on Saturday.

“He stuck me — he got me good in the ribs, which was why I was slowed down in the second quarter,” said Red team receiver Chris Conley, who finished the day with 124 yards on six catches. “It’s a healthy competition. He’s making me better and hopefully I’m making him better.”

“Lucas played very well today,” cornerback Damian Swann said. “With the new (coaching) staff, Lucas saw an opportunity and he took advantage of it. He’s getting reps and he played the majority of the downs today with the (first team) and he worked really hard for that. Now he’s just got to keep working.

“Lucas is a guy who takes well to the coaching and tries to do exactly what the coach asks. If you look at him, he’s not one of those very athletic guys, but he can still play the game and a player in his situation, the smarter you are the better. He’s making up for things with his intelligence, which is good for him.”

Floyd, who likened Redd to “a player’s coach,” said that the senior’s intelligence and work ethic could well pay dividends for the Bulldogs later this year.

“He knows the defense already — he can tell me what I’m doing and I can’t tell everybody else what they’re supposed to be doing, but he knows what everybody’s supposed to be doing,” Floyd said. “It’s a good thing for Lucas. He might even get a chance to start. That would be a blessing for him because he comes to work hard every day.”

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