The time spent at Georgia Tech has flown by for Dominique Reese. "It's gone by fast and when I see the incoming freshman I think about when I came in five years ago." During his time at Tech, Nique started as a cornerback, moved to safety and is now back at cornerback. It doesn't matter which of the two positions he plays. "It doesn't matter; I just want to play," said Reese. "At safety I came down and covered the nickel so I feel comfortable where I'm at now."
In the spring the coaching staff made the decision to move Nique to the corner and Jarrard Tarrant to safety. "It's working out real well and Jarrard is comfortable back there making tackles and I'm comfortable covering receivers"
The move by Coach Al Groh has brought some changes in how the corners play their position. "Coach Groh is using blitzes so the ball is coming out faster and I like that better."
This year's secondary is probably the deepest talent-wise in recent memory for the Jackets. "We're going to miss Morgan but everybody in the two or three deep can play." Reese is now at 100% and Cooper Taylor has now returned to add to that depth in the secondary. "I missed my share of games but I definitely feel 100% now."
For the first time under Coach Johnson the team will have more than one or two players that are considered leaders. "We have a bunch of seniors that can lead and I believe Brad (Jefferson) is the real senior leader on defense and you have (Joshua) Nesbitt on offense."
The defense may not have the star power this year but they feel that as a unit they have the ability to have a good season. "Things have changed with the scheme we're playing and everybody is playing together," said Reese. "I know that if I'm in cover two Mario Edwards has my back as would Cooper or Jarrard."
Going into the spring Reese and the rest of the defense not only had to adapt to a new defense but they also had to adapt to a new coaching staff with Charles Kelly the lone coach returning on the defensive side of the ball. "I think we adjusted well with Coach (Joe) Speed and Coach (Andy) McCollum coming in with Coach Groh," said Reese. "We all knew that Coach Groh was a winner and when you have someone with that much knowledge you can't help but accept them."
Some of the talk in the spring revolved around the loss of Demaryius Thomas at the receiver position. Reese had a chance to play against some of the current group in the spring. "They better be ready for Stephen Hill because he's a blazer and "T Melt is going to catch everything; he has the strongest hands I've seen." While Reese knows that they don't have that Bay Bay he thinks opposing defensive backs will have to now cover everybody.
One of the biggest changes on defense this year besides playing the 3-4 is the switch to one secondary coach. "I'm really excited about that because this year everybody is going to be doing the same thing and we'll be on the same page," said Reese. "I think a couple of times last year we weren't on the same page. Having a coach they're familiar with, in Coach Kelly will also be a plus for the secondary. "Coach Kelly will tell you what he thinks and he expects a lot and if he doesn't get it you won't play."
In his five years at Tech, Reese has played under two different personality types in Coach Chan Gailey and Coach Paul Johnson. Reese has taken a little from each in developing as a player and a person. "I'm glad that Coach Gailey was here when I first got here because as a young guy he taught me how to go about my day and do things the right way and he was like a father off the field." When Coach Paul Johnson took over the program, he instituted the open door policy. "Coach Johnson talks to everybody whether or not you're on scholarship."
Another change for the defense this season will be to have their defensive coordinator on the field to be able to look the players in the eye to see how they're doing and to make changes on the fly as the game proceeds. "We like that because when we come off the field we can talk to him and don't have to wait to get on the phone." The players have been asked to learn the defense inside and out so that they can tell him what's wrong when they come off the field.
Reese likes playing for a fiery coach like Coach Kelly. He also said we'll be surprised at how fiery Coach Groh can get. "He's a lot like Coach (John) Tenuta except with Coach Groh you can talk to him," said Reese. "He's very approachable and I was afraid to talk to Coach Tenuta."
Dominique and the defense will enter this season trying to make up for last year's defensive record. There goals this season will be to limit big plays and allow fewer points. Look for a healthy Nique to be one of the leaders out there in making that happen.