Two years ago, Roddy Jones was having a decent season as a redshirt freshman. He had scored two touchdowns, caught five passes and showed a glimpse of his big-play ability a few times.
And then Tech played Georgia at Sanford Stadium in what has been the highwater mark of Jones’ career.
He carried the ball 13 times for 214 yards and scored two touchdowns. His 54-yard touchdown run in that game has been watched on the internet thousands of times. He also returned four kicks for 98 yards in the game.
It was a once-in-a-lifetime performance. Georgia Tech (6-5) will play Georgia (5-6) in Athens on Saturday.
Since then, because of injuries, Tech’s scheme — which relies more on reading and reacting than set plays – and the good play of opposing defenses, Jones has been more steady than spectacular. Not that he’s complaining. A positive person, he says his growth as a football player, particularly this season, can’t be measured in stats.
“I’ve improved in a lot of areas that I wanted to improve in, particularly blocking,” he said. “I think I’ve done some things that helped the team win. I feel I might have improved a bit more here and there.”
Tech coach Paul Johnson said that Jones is an outstanding blocker, which is why he doesn’t get more carries. But more than that, with praise that Johnson doesn’t use often, he said that, “You’d like to have a whole team of guys like Roddy Jones. He’s accountable. He doesn’t do everthing perfect, but he’s accountable and he’s a team player. I can’t say enough good things about him.
“The kids respect him. They respect the way he takes care of business. He’s going to be a very successful young man.”
Jones will be successful because he’s determined.
He dislocated his wrist while lifting weights during the offseason in 2009 and missed all of the spring practices. He was able to return for most of Tech’s ACC championship season, but said after the season that the injury affected him throughout the year.
He carried the ball 53 times for 345 yards (6.5 yards-per-carry average) and didn’t catch a pass. He scored three touchdowns. Compare that to his 2008 stats: 81 carries for 690 yards (8.5 per-carry average) with eight receptions for 155 yards. He scored five touchdowns.
This season he’s carried the ball 41 times for 273 yards (6.7 per-carry average) and scored three touchdowns. He has caught five passes for 93 yards and a touchdown. His longest run has been 31 yards. His longest run in 2009 was 23 yards, evidence of defenses keying on stopping the A-backs.
He’s looking forward to facing Georgia in Sanford Stadium, the site of his best performance as a Yellow Jacket.
“You’re always excited to play Georgia,” Jones said. “We aren’t going to the ACC championship game. This will be the last game of the regular season. This is the last thing we have to look forward to. It’s a late game, the atmosphere is going to be great.”