The spring was a tough time for Kevin Minter – though his face might not have always showed it.
A heavy playbook had just been dumped in his lap. He put on pads and lined up next to and against the best talent he had ever seen. For the first time in his young college career, Minter began to understand what it meant to play in the Southeastern Conference.
“That first week or two in the spring was the most difficult,” Minter said. “I was a freshman all over again, and that is tough to deal with. I just tried not to mess up. As long as [defensive coordinator] coach [John] Chavis was quiet, I felt like I was doing fine.”
The Suwanee, Ga. native made it through the spring in one piece – and in the running to back up Jacob Cutrera at middle linebacker.
Yet, more important to Minter was the experience gained over the summer months. Coupled with the knowledge he accrued during the spring semester and Minter was always a step ahead of the game – both physically and mentally.
“It starts at fall camp with people just being in shape,” Minter said. “I looked around and I see people winded and grabbing their knees, and I know that would be me had I not come into the program early. And, it trickles down to not knowing the plays. After the first week of fall, I truly realized that coming in January and getting my work done in the spring was the best decision for me.
“I know the scheme a little better than the next guy, and the same goes with the plays,” he added. “Having that experience has helped so much, and I am a better linebacker for it.”
Being surrounded by teammates with familiar backgrounds has also helped the process along.
“Playing next to other Georgia guys like Perry Riley and Kelvin Sheppard has been awesome, and I don’t know how I could have done it without them,” Minter said. “It is weird, because when I committed and then sat back for all those months on my process, I had forgotten that Riley and Sheppard were even from Georgia. It was an awesome reminder, because having hometown people by your side is comforting. Even T-Bob [Hebert] and I are close, because he used to live down the street from me.”
Physically, not much has changed for Minter – who has hovered around the 6’1”, 240-pound range since his days at Peachtree Ridge High. Yet, Minter’s confidence level has reached new heights, which has put him in a position to make an early impact during his freshman campaign.
“I see other linebackers like Ryan Baker who made a name for themselves on special teams before they ever started at linebacker, so I have a lot of focus on doing that,” Minter said. “There is so much talent on the defensive side that you don’t know if you will start or be buried on the chart, and I think that keeps the action live. Hopefully I can get some solid looks behind Cutrera, because I think I fit in nicely.”