Notes from interviews this week. Camp opens next Friday.
1. Orwin Smith said he will always feel lingering effects of his toe injury, but it matters little to him as his final season at Georgia Tech nears.
“I feel like I’m good to go, 100 percent,” said Smith, an A-back. “I don’t feel any pain. … [The injury] will always be there, but it’s definitely easier to do some quickness and planting things.”
Smith suffered the turf-toe injury early in last season’s loss to Virginia Tech. He played with diminished effectiveness for the remainder of the season. He had surgery in January and missed spring practice.
On top of a summer internship in the accounting department of a local beverage distributor, Smith has attacked summer workouts. On top of participating in team workouts, he has taken yoga and trained on his own, exercising with a resistance vest and also running and jumping in a pool.
“I’m the type of guy, I feel like I can’t get fast enough,” he said. “I want to be able to hold my speed for a longer period of time.”
Last season, he had 12 offensive plays of 20 yards or longer, including a school-record 95-yard touchdown run against Kansas.
“Starting last year, I put in a good amount of time of just individual workouts, and I feel like it paid off,” Smith said. “This whole summer, I’ve been trying to do that plus more.”
He offered a whopper of an individual goal — to lead the country in all-purpose yardage. A year ago, he finished 85th in the country at 106.1 per game. The leader averaged 198.0. At the least, he likely would need to be more involved on kick returns.
Said Smith, “It’s a nice goal I feel I can reach.”
2. Quarterback Synjyn Days hopes to win the starting job over Tevin Washington, but he also has worked at A-back, B-back and wide receiver in the team’s 7-on-7 passing scrimmages. He said he has been meeting with A-backs coach Lamar Owens to go over that position.
At ACC media days in Greensboro, N.C., this past week, coach Paul Johnson said that if Days “doesn’t beat out Tevin in the first two weeks of fall camp, I don’t want him standing over there in a baseball cap [as the backup].”
Johnson wants to get Days’ powerful running style on the field, at quarterback or elsewhere. Quarterback is Days’ preference, but he’s open to being moved around.
“To be able to switch positions and be able to make plays on the field is kind of the way I was raised,” he said.
3. While he’ll use a rotation at A-back, Johnson said in Greensboro that he hasn’t determined who will start opposite Smith at A-back and that it could be “one of two or three guys” and that “the guy that blocks the best will be the one that plays.”
That could be an opening for Robbie Godhigh, a former walk-on who had a strong spring practice and for whom blocking is a strength. Godhigh said a starting job is a goal.
“I take that as an opportunity for me to make a name for myself and become the starter,” he said. “Blocking will get you chances to run.”
Deon Hill, B.J. Bostic, Broderick Snoddy and Tony Zenon are other possibilities.
4. Cornerback Louis Young and safety Isaiah Johnson fell over themselves in praise of safety Fred Holton, who is in position to start after missing last season with a torn Achilles tendon.
“Fred’s like the backbone that we didn’t have last year,” Young said. “He’s going to bring that extra muscle that we need to really get the job done.”
Said Johnson, “He can cover as good as anybody. I just can’t wait to see what he can do.”
5. At the team’s strength-and-conditioning testing, cornerback Rod Sweeting recorded a 40-inch vertical leap, a five-inch improvement from last summer. Sweeting said he figured to reach 36 or 37 inches, but then jumped 38 inches on his first attempt and hit 40 on the next.
“The new strength-and-conditioning coach, he’s the best,” Sweeting said of John Sisk. “The whole team got better working out-wise.”
6. Tech players will report for preseason practice Thursday and participate in their first practice Friday. The Jackets will hold Fan Day at Bobby Dodd Stadium on Saturday. Festivities will begin at 3 p.m. on Callaway Plaza. Autograph signing and photo opportunities will start at 4 p.m.
Thanks for reading.
Ken Sugiura, Georgia Tech blog