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Adjusting to the 'Speed' of the game
Georgia defensive back Ameer Speed (9) during the Bulldogs’ practice session on Dooley Field at Sanford Stadium in Athens, Ga., on Tuesday, Aug. 10, 2021. (Photo by Tony Walsh)
Georgia fifth-year senior Ameer Speed knows a thing or two about patience.
He has quietly waited for his time in the spotlight over the last four years. Now, as Speed enters his final year of eligibility, the time has come.
Speed has mainly played the backup role at cornerback over the last couple of seasons behind some of Georgia’s most talented defenders, including D’Andre Baker, J.R. Reed, Tyson Campbell and Eric Stokes Jr. He could have taken advantage of the NCAA transfer portal and gone elsewhere to compete. However, Speed decided to stick to his roots and remain at Georgia.
Speed pointed out back in the spring that he is proud to be a Georgia Bulldog.
“I’m blessed to be here,” he said during a spring zoom call with reporters. “God’s taught me different than anybody else. He taught just to keep working and wait for the exact moment. Then, to be able to step up and take my role. I love my teammates. I love the University of Georgia. So, pretty much, everything I just said is why I am still here today.”
Speed is a top candidate for one of the two starting cornerback positions for the Bulldogs heading into the 2021 season. Nevertheless, he will have to compete against a few younger Bulldogs, including Kelee Ringo, Jalen Kimber and Nyland Green for playing time. Then, there’s Clemson transfer Derion Kendrick, who was a First-Team All-ACC selection last season.
Still, Speed is embracing the moment and is excited to play alongside Kendrick.
“It’s all love,” Speed said on Tuesday. “We’re all here to make each other better. When DK first came in, we welcomed him with open arms. We’ve all been there for him, and he’s been there for us.”
Speed highlighted that it’s not all about competition but rather about improving as a unit.
“He’s got a lot of experience,” he said. “Having that experience will help us out. It was never about competition. We are all just about helping each other out.”
Speed has been through four fall camps at Georgia, so he knows how to approach things as a veteran.
“I have just been taking things day by day and using every day to really get better as a team and as a player, as a brother and as a person,” Speed said. “We are just taking it step by step and not letting everything get too ahead of us like coach says ‘moving day by day, live in the moment to be able to perfect that day so I can move on to the next day.’”
Speed said that being an older guy in the secondary helps him realize his true potential.
“It’s crazy,” he added. “As you get older, the thought process just evolves. I forget I’m an 'old head' sometimes. I’m just allowing myself to get better every day. But the big thing has been, as I become older, I just became more demanding of myself. I realized I have to do this, I have to do that not to sell myself short.”
The 6-foot-3, 210-pound defender apparently likes being one of the older guys in the locker room, especially because he can lead by example.
“We have just been trying to be a brotherhood, Coach Addae, Coach Smart, Coach Monken have been working with us all, allowing us all to perfect our crafts and just being the best we can be,” Speed said. “Also, us older guys, we are able to help out. We are all open, when one person does something wrong we are all like ‘hey, you know you could have done this or done that’ we are all working together and trying to make each other the best we can be. We are only as strong as our weakest link so once we are all where we need to be we can do anything we want to do.”
The former three-star product has played a lot over the past four seasons for the Bulldogs. However, it’s been mainly on special teams. So, as he enters his final season at Georgia, he could see a considerable amount of reps in the secondary if he keeps competing hard.
Here is Speed’s interview:
The Jacksonville, Florida, native signed with UGA back in 2017 as a three-star prospect out of Sandalwood High School.