Aug. 4, 2010
By Jon Cooper
Page 10 of the 2010 Georgia Tech football information guide shows a picture of Dominique Reese smiling with an orange stuffed in his mouth. The picture captures a moment of splendor, as he’s savoring the Yellow Jackets’ victory over Clemson in the ACC Championship Game and the prospect of going to the FedEx Orange Bowl.
At the same time, the picture reveals the conundrum that was Reese’s 2009 season.
Team-wise, it was by-and-large a dream season, where so much went right, while personally, Reese was the opposite end of the spectrum. A nagging shoulder injury interrupted his season and turned things the wrong direction.
“[Last year] was definitely my most frustrating year. I just felt like I couldn’t get right,” said the redshirt senior from Auburn, Ala., who made six starts. “The hardest part was trying to fight through the injuries and seeing my teammates play out there without being able to help. That was very hard. I’m ready to get back out there and redeem myself.”
Redemption in 2010 would mean having his personal path match the team’s — getting the Jackets back to a BCS game, AND getting a chance to contribute and enjoy the journey.
Reese actually started ’09 well, recording 14 tackles (one for loss) in the first three games, including a season-high six at Miami. He also finished with a flourish, recording his lone interception in the ACC Championship victory over Clemson and getting his half-sack in the Orange Bowl loss to Iowa. It was in between, where the injury to his shoulder and the frustrating setbacks set in.
“I kept coming back too early and then I felt like when I was sitting out I felt like I could be playing,” he said. “So, it was real frustrating.”
But the frustration is in the past. Now he says he is finally at 100 percent and is locked in on the immediate future, an immediate future that looks quite promising with a new defensive look, even if the media doesn’t necessarily agree.
“We might not be ranked high going into this year but I think things will change when you see the scheme that we’re playing,” said Reese, who heads into 2010 fourth on the team with 18 career starts. “Everybody is playing together, knowing that if I’m in Cover Two, that Mario Edwards is going to be over the top because we’ve been playing together for so long, or Cooper Taylor, Jerrard [Tarrant], just knowing what they can do and what they’re capable of.”
Reese, who in the spring moved from safety to cornerback but can play any position in the secondary, believes that this year’s team is capable of just about anything.
“I think [A-Back] Roddy [Jones] said it best when he was at Media Day. We know how to win in every situation,” he said. “We’ve been faced with everything. We’ve gone into overtime, we had to score points. I know two years ago we had to play defense really hard and not give up many points because that’s when the offense was just installed. So I think we know how to win in every aspect.”
Reese has made similar adjustments in his career at Tech, having done so frequently since arriving on The Flats in 2006 after starring at Auburn (Ala.) High School at quarterback.
As a senior, he is content to lead by example wherever that may be.
“I’m just playing my role,” he said. “Just being on the field, really. It doesn’t matter. I just want to play.”
Reese knows he has only one more go-round to put a final stamp on what has been a remarkable and remarkably fleeting ride.
“It went by real fast,” he said. “Seeing the incoming freshmen coming in, I remember when I was doing this five years ago because this will be my fifth year going in. It went by real fast.”