Aug. 26, 2010
By Jon Cooper
Center Sean Bedford can’t do a whole lot wrong these days.
Bedford was named a candidate for the 2010 Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award on Wednesday, only a couple of weeks after being the only Yellow Jacket selected to the Preseason All-ACC Team.
Then again, his doing things right is only newsworthy to those outside of Atlanta, as anyone inside the Georgia Tech program already knows all about Bedford and what makes him tick.
“Just doing the right things,” said right guard Omoregie Uzzi. “Bedford’s a real good guy on and off the field. He always does right.”
He’s so on the right side of things that even when he did something wrong it turned out right.
The indiscretion came in an early practice in 2008. It seems that while playing on defense for the scout team he was NOT getting beat up by the starting offense. Head Coach Paul Johnson, in his first season on The Flats, immediately took notice.
“The next day we were warming up. We were back-peddaling, which is always part of our warm-up,” Bedford recalled. “Coach Johnson walked up to me, kind of grabbed me by the inside of my shoulder pads, and started walking backwards, talking to me the whole time.
“He said, ‘Did you ever play offensive line before?'” Bedford continued. “I said, ‘Yes sir, I played briefly as a freshman in high school at center.’ He said, ‘Okay. How about you come get some snaps? How would you like to have a shot at beating out those guys instead of beating up on them?’ So, I went over there, took some snaps and I’ve been on offense ever since.”
After playing in two games in 2008, he won the starting job in 2009, starting all 14 games.
Bedford’s work ethic has been a big reason for his successful transition.
“You can tell it means something to him. He wants to be a good player and he works at it,” said Johnson. “The team means something to him and winning means something to him. So he works hard and he tries to push everybody else to work hard.”
“He’s a guy that works every day. There are no shortcuts. He’s the antithesis of the ‘Win Today’ guy,” added Co-Offensive Line Coach Todd Spencer. “He’s an unbelievable guy that just gets better every day. He works so hard and diligently at the little things. There’s a saying, ‘You don’t have to do anything extraordinary. You just have to do the ordinary things with more consistency than anyone else.’ He totally encapsulates what that means. Just as far as the details and doing the small things I’ve seen an unbelievable transformation in the way he plays the game.”
Bedford’s diligence and attention to the most minute of details shouldn’t come as a surprise. He’s closing in on his degree in Aerospace Engineering, after choosing Georgia Tech over the Ivy League, turning down potential suitors Harvard and Penn.
“What it came down to was the engineering program here,” said Bedford, who originally visited campus as a finalist for the President’s Scholarship. “For aerospace, at least, Georgia Tech is second only to MIT. I think that distinction is purely academic. I think that goes more on tradition and reputation than anything. A lot of it for me, the Ivys were a little out of my price range, they were a long way from home and I really thought I had a chance to compete at the FBS, then-Division I, level. I wanted to see what I could do.”
It also gave him a chance to compete against some of the schools that he grew up most fervently rooting against. A Gainesville, Fla., native, Bedford attended the same church as University of Florida Head Football Coach Urban Meyer (he also attended Buchholz High School, with Nicki Meyer, a member of the Georgia Tech Volleyball team and Urban’s oldest daughter).
He also is — make that was — a diehard Florida Gators football fan.
“Florida State, Georgia, Miami, the trifecta there,” he said, with a laugh.
Bedford is eager to begin running the gauntlet that is the 2010 Georgia Tech football schedule and defend the school’s ACC Championship. More important, he’s ready to go after anyone other than his teammates.
“I was telling Coach Spence, ‘I like Logan [Walls] and our defensive tackles. I’m ready to hit somebody that I don’t really like that much,'” he said, with a laugh. “We’ve come a long way. Unfortunately, we’ve had some injury problems. It would be nice to get everybody out there and have the whole first line out there. That said, I think we’ve come a long way. We have a bunch of guys who are capable of going out there and making a difference for us and I think we’re going to be very good.”
Bedford will go a long way in determining how good.
“His leadership skills are off the charts. I think our whole football team, follows his leadership, like they do [quarterback Joshua Nesbitt],” said Spencer. “He’s been a real catalyst for the offensive line to look to, as far as the speed of the leader being the speed of the pack. He sets the tone in the huddle and they follow his leadership. They move faster because he’s on our team.”
“Sean’s really fast off the ball,” agreed senior nose tackle Ben Anderson, who came in the same year as Bedford and redshirted with him ’06. “One thing I’ve always noticed about him is he’s real quick. Coach Johnson’s offense is not like Coach [Chan] Gailey’s, where every lineman has to be 300 pounds. You can have a guy like Sean (listed at 281), who’s real fast and can cut people real good. He’s perfect for this offense.”
Bedford also has gained a mental edge from his experience on the defensive line.
“I think there is [an edge],” he said. “Especially in watching film of opposing defenses it helps a lot because I can look at what a defensive lineman is doing and get into his head and think about what he’s trying to accomplish on a given play. I can look at a defensive tackle who might like to swim in certain situations or spin and know what he’s trying to get done there. So especially in the scouting side of things, it really helps you kind of understand your opponent’s mentality and what he wants to do. Knowing that allows you to prepare accordingly and kind of have an idea what he’s going to do in certain situations.”
About the only mystery remaining for Bedford is what he’s going to do after graduation. But fear not. He’s on the case.
Because, obviously, studying opponent’s weakness on film, polishing his game on the field and finishing up a degree in Aerospace Engineering aren’t keeping him keep him busy enough, he’s found time to take up a minor, in law science and technology.
“Aerospace is more than enough for anybody,” he insisted. “That said, I don’t know exactly what I want to do. Right now I’m looking at law schools and possibly going into intellectual property law.
“I would love to look into the aerospace sector to see if anybody like Lockheed or NASA would be interested in me, or any kind of government contractor,” he continued. “That would be awesome work. I’ve got some options, thanks to Georgia Tech and I’m going to try to explore them all.”