For Javon Bullard, the college football recruiting process started after his sophomore season when he landed his first offer from Troy University.
That journey came to its official end two years later Wednesday when the Baldwin High School defensive back signed to play football for the University of Georgia. While this week’s signing marked the completion of the recruiting process for Bullard, he says it was really all over when he verbally committed to UGA back in August just before his senior season at BHS.
“Once I committed I was pretty locked in from the get-go,” Bullard said. “I feel like I shouldn’t say I’m 100 percent for somewhere and then back out of it.”
Bullard was one of 20 student-athletes to sign to head coach Kirby Smart’s program Wednesday. The early signing made sense for the Baldwin product because he’s already completed his high school graduation requirements, so he’ll make the move to Athens as an early enrollee after Christmas break is over. Once there he plans on majoring in journalism.
Bullard’s on- and off-the-field resumé made him an extremely appealing football recruit. He’s rated as a three-star prospect and ranked 55th overall in the state of Georgia. In the classroom, Bullard boasts a 3.7 GPA along with a very impressive 1250 SAT score. With numbers like that, it’s easy to see why many big-name college football programs had their eye on the DB/athlete. Baldwin head football coach Jesse Hicks pointed out one other thing about his star player during Wednesday’s signing ceremony.
“Javon Bullard is a great student. Javon Bullard is a great athlete. But the most important thing that I’m proud of about Javon Bullard is that he’s a heck of a person,” said Hicks.
College football recruiting in 2020 was unlike any other year thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. With between 20 and 30 scholarship offers placed before him, Bullard was looking forward to taking some campus visits during the spring, but that all got shut down once the coronavirus became prevalent. His recruitment became a virtual experience limited to Zoom interactions with coaches, but Coach Smart and his staff were obviously still able to make a good impression through the unconventional avenue. That and a sign from above factored heavily into Bullard’s selection.
“I felt like God gave me a sign, so I just took that sign and ran with it,” said Bullard. “I trusted my heart. Me and my family sat down and had a long talk. After all that, we just made a final decision.”
Although he’s primarily a defensive back, Bullard helped the Baldwin Braves in all three phases by returning kicks on special and as one of the team’s top threats at wide receiver. He’ll take that mindset with him to the next level.
“I’m a team player,” he said. “I’ll do what ever the team needs me to do whether it’s on punt, kickoff or kickoff return. I just want to see the field as many times as I can.”
For his work throughout his final high school season, Bullard was named Region 4-4A Player of the Year as voted on by head coaches at Baldwin, Perry, Westside-Macon, West Laurens, Rutland and Howard. He played a key role in every game this season, but his efforts were especially exceptional against West Laurens and in the state playoff game against Thomas County Central. He scored the game-winning touchdown late versus West Laurens and brought the postseason matchup with TCC to a tie after Baldwin had been trailing 30-18 late in the third quarter.
His outstanding play will be missed locally, but now many eyes will follow him to Athens where he’ll look to carve out a legacy on a much larger stage. After making his signing official Wednesday, Bullard shared some words of wisdom for the players coming behind him that are looking for a similar opportunity.
“Keep grinding and trust God. Trust the process. I was one of those kids at one point who was kind of down and did not believe, but I promise that with hard work, gratitude and keeping your head level — anything is possible.”