Despite committing to Florida State in August, Bellamy backed out after official visits to Georgia and Oregon in recent weeks. He said that proximity to home and the Athens atmosphere were major incentives, but that it was defensive coordinator Todd Grantham’s promise to stay at Georgia that sold him.
“I told him that I’d come to Georgia if I could get my No. 17 and longevity from him,” Bellamy said. “So every time we talk on the phone, instead of saying ‘Good bye,’ we say ‘17 and longevity.’ I’ve got to take him for his word because I’m going to that school with my trust in him.”
When Bellamy suits up for camp in August, he expects to make an immediate impact at outside linebacker. And the Bulldogs will need him to, especially as they prepare to replace two-time All-American Jarvis Jones.
“I plan on going in there and competing,” he said. “I think the depth at the position and the people going to the draft kind of play into my favor. I chose to go to a school that was not only almost there [for a championship], but also still needed some help. If I go in there and do what I’ve got to do, I should be on the field early.”
Bellamy, however, said that he’s not nervous about filling the gap that Jones left, and that he looks up to the legendary Bulldog for inspiration. And though Bellamy didn’t get to meet Jones on his official visit two weekends ago, he said that Jones’ protégé, Jordan Jenkins, made quite an impact on him as his host.
Both Bellamy and Jenkins put a lot of stock in to sack stats, which could quickly prove beneficial –– a Grantham-coached linebacker has finished in the top two in the SEC in sacks since the coordinator’s arrival in 2010.
It also helps that Bellamy played in a comparable, three-stack defense at Chamblee, where he thrived under coach Allen Johnson.
“I definitely see him fitting in [at Georgia],” Johnson said. “I’m sure the coaches there will do a good job at identifying what’s best for him and their program.”
Ranked a four-star recruit by Fox Sports Next, Bellamy became the first Division I recruit out of Chamblee since Warren Norman committed to Vanderbilt in 2009.
Chamblee’s ceremony wasn’t reserved to just Bellamy, though. Seven players signed scholarships Wednesday, marking the most in school history. Much of the credit for the record number was attributed to Johnson, who took over the team after serving as an assistant since 2008.
Johnson, who graduated from Chamblee in 1997 and is now in his second year as head coach, said that only one of his players earned a scholarship last season. He vowed to change that over the course of his tenure.
“It’s the reason I signed up for the job,” Johnson said. “My goal was to give my kids an opportunity to go to college so they can go on to pursue a degree. I want them to be ‘student-athletes,’ in every sense of the word. Everybody likes to win, but this right here is my greatest accomplishment.”
Bellamy said that Johnson’s leadership made him an inspirational character in his path to adulthood. His mother, Bridget, however, is the one who has stuck with him since the beginning.
Bridget raised Bellamy on her own after his father walked out 18 years ago. She has not remarried or had any children since, which creates what the pair calls an “inseparable bond.” Because of that, she told Bellamy that going to school anywhere more than five hours away would be to difficult to bear.
“With him being my only child, I didn’t want him to go too far from home,” she said. “It’s been just us for the past 18 years.”
Added Bellamy: “I look at her and see a lot. She’s been fighting through trials and tribulations for 18 years. If she can fight through anything, then I know I can.”
Bellamy will certainly have to fight come June when he moves to Athens. He said that he does not plan to redshirt, which means his first collegiate season is just seven short months away.