After three and a half years at the University of Georgia, Jeb Blazevich concluded his time having gained a fiancé, a degree, lifelong friends and a lasting legacy. Yet, when he moved into the athletic dorms in June of 2014, the only thing on his mind was memorizing a playbook and surviving college classes.
Jeb stood out on campus for many reasons. For starters, his 6’5 frame draws attention. Anyone who followed football recruiting knew his name too. Jeb was a four-star high school prospect ranked the 2nd best tight end in the nation by ESPN.com. On top of that, he was a two-time state champion and 2014 Under Armour All-American alum. Everyone shared the same excitement about seeing how he would fit into the offense and develop into a reliable target for Georgia quarterbacks.
In the time since his arrival, Jeb became a fan-favorite. On the field, he made an immediate impact as a freshman and continued to develop over the next 4 seasons. His performance earned him the slogan ‘the Blaze will catch’.
The jump to college wasn’t easy, however. Gone were the days where he could kill extra hours. Being a collegiate football player meant having not just a full course load but also a full-time job. It helped him learn the value of a single hour.
“Students always complain about finals, but to me finals was the easiest time of the year since we didn’t have full football or academic duties. I could study as needed and still have a few hours to myself,” he says.
From catching passes to making key blocks, Jeb was consistent. The team, however, never shared the same consistency. During his tenure at Georgia, Jeb played on three very different offenses with a new quarterback each year. Right before his junior year, the athletic offices fired head coach Mark Richt and unloaded many members of the coaching staff. In came Kirby Smart and his staff and, well, the rest is history.
Adjusting to new offenses and learning how to work under unfamiliar coaches isn’t easy, but Jeb chose to focus on the positive side.
“Each year was either an opportunity to strengthen a preexisting relationship, or a chance to meet new people and make them feel welcome,” Jeb says.
Like everything else, though, all good things must come to an end. In the blink of an eye, it was Georgia vs. Kentucky - Jeb’s senior night.
The team boasted a 9-1 record, the best in a very long time. Fittingly, Georgia dominated the game. They had 504 total yards compared to Kentucky’s 204 and finished with 8 more first downs. When the clock ticked to 0:00, Georgia advanced to 10-1 after the 42-13 victory.
What came next is something Jeb will never forget. Two teammates, Jackson Harris and Charlie Woerner, carried him off Georgia’s field.
“The last time I exited that field as a player was on the shoulders of some of my closest friends,” says Jeb.
For the first time ever, Georgia reached the College Football Playoffs. A win over Auburn in the SEC championship meant they earned 2nd seed and would play Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl.
But first, Jeb had to graduate. His time as a student was similar to his football career: “a lot of ups and downs”.
Freshman year he received straight A’s, but first semester of sophomore year didn’t produce the same results. The renowned Terry School of Business proved to be an academic challenge Jeb was unfamiliar with and, initially, his grades dropped. As a result, he learned a new more creative and intentional way of studying which boosted his grades and helped him excel.
Through all the good times and bad, Jeb’s faith also continued to strengthen. He found himself surrounded by a community of believers who pointed him back to Jesus whenever dark times approached.
“Jesus is my rock, my hope, my peace, my guide. Without all those things I wouldn’t have made it through UGA,” Jeb says.
Last December, Jeb graduated with a degree in Risk Management and Insurance as well as a legal studies certificate. It was an incredible accomplishment, although there wasn't much time to celebrate.
“[That day] my main worries were about hydrating and getting ready for practice for the Rose Bowl that afternoon,” he says.
In our first interview, Jeb spoke of his desire to play in a national championship game. It took four years, but he didn’t leave Georgia without accomplishing that.
Unfortunately, the game didn’t end like the previous 13 and Alabama ended the night as champions.
It’s been two months since the national title game, and while the pain hasn’t totally gone away, time provided clarity to Jeb.
He compares the lesson of resiliency to a story in the Bible. While Jeb asserts that Job’s case was much more serious - experiencing hell on earth versus losing a football game - one aspect stayed the same: “the only thing that matters is that God was glorified”.
Good news: that’s not the last you will see of Jeb on the football field. He’s currently training for Pro Day and pursuing a career in the NFL.
When he’s not preparing for the league, he’s probably assisting fiancè Addy Lippitt with wedding planning. The two met on the first day of class at Georgia and their connection over being athletes - she is a distance runner - sparked their bond. Through all the ups and downs of college, Addy kept him sane and focused. She is his best friend and he is hers. It didn’t take long for Jeb to realize that he’d finally found the woman he wants to spend the rest of his life with - someone who pushes him to be the best man possible and shares a love for the Lord.
On June 9, 2017, on the rooftop of the Fred building in Athens, Jeb proposed to Addy. She said yes, of course.
No matter where God leads Jeb on the next step of this journey, Athens will always have a special place in his heart.
“To be a Bulldog is nothing but an absolute privilege and honor. To me, there is no other words for Bulldogs besides family and love,” says Jeb.
Athens is where his dreams came true - both on and off the field - and where he met his future wife. Fifty years down the road, Jeb and Addy will always look back on Athens.
Number 83 is signing off, but he has one last message for Georgia fans: Thank you. I can’t express how much your support means not only on game day, but also all over the country wherever we are - walking in the streets, in a restaurant, or anywhere else.