Audition continues for Tech A-backs

By MICHAEL CUNNINGHAM

There are three tenets that coach Lamar Owens repeats to his Georgia Tech A-backs.

“Be fundamentally sound, play with great effort and take care of the ball,” Owens said.

Sounds simple enough, but those are just the general requirements. The specifics are much more demanding, adding urgency to Tech’s task of finding a successor to Roddy Jones to start opposite senior Orwin Smith at one of two A-back positions.

In coach Paul Johnson’s run-oriented option offense, the A-backs have to do it all.

“He will run routes,” Owens said. “He will run with the ball. He will also block on the perimeter. He’s pretty versatile. He’s pretty involved in the offense.

“The main thing with the A-backs is you have to have the right attitude. You have to be tough, physical and also be willing to play extremely fast.”

The Jackets know what to expect from Smith, who is probably the team’s most dynamic offensive player. It’s less certain what Tech can get from the other A-backs, who don’t have much experience.

Johnson said junior Robbie Godhigh and sophomore Deon Hill entered camp ahead of the rest of the pack. But a lot can change during preseason camp and Smith said he’s curious to see which of the younger backs emerges from the pack.

“They are looking good,” he said. “I got to watch them during the spring and all of them have improved. I’m really looking forward to what they are going to do and seeing who is going to step up this year.”

Owens said it was tough to tell who has made strides early in camp because so much of the position comes down to blocking. The full-contact sessions between now and the opener Sept. 3 at Virginia Tech will be important in determining the pecking order.

Godhigh, a former walk-on from Harrison High School, said he was eager to start practicing in pads for that reason.

“I love it,” Godhigh said. “If it was up to me, I would want to scrimmage every day. I like going against the defense and competing. I like hitting.”

There’s no shortage of speed among the A-backs. That includes redshirt freshman Broderick Snoddy, who was the Class AAA state track sprint champion at Carrollton High, though Snoddy may end up at B-back.

Hill also has play-making potential. After a redshirt year, he was a standout on special teams in 2011 and scored a touchdown on his only carry of the season.

“Obviously we know he’s a great athlete,” said Smith, Hill’s roommate and high school teammate in Phenix City, Ala. “We just need him to prove himself.”

The other A-back candidates include B.J. Bostic and Synjyn Days. Bostic had 127 yards rushing on 13 carries as a freshman but suffered a season-ending thumb injury during 2011 preseason camp. Days is making the transition from quarterback.

Smith returns after rushing for 615 yards and 11 touchdowns on just 61 carries in 2011. He proved his big-play ability against Kansas when he became the first Tech player to ever have 100 yards rushing and receiving in the same game.

No matter which A-back starts opposite Smith, the others will see playing time. Johnson typically shuttles his A-backs through the game.

Owens said he’s looking forward to finding out which of the other A-backs will emerge as a key player.

“It’s a process but it’s fun,” Owens said. “It’s fun being on a journey with these guys starting out and seeing what we want to be this year.”

B.J. Bostic, 5-11, 170

Skinny: Injury redshirt last year after averaging  9.8 yards per carry as a true freshman, can improve blocking

Robbie Godhigh, 5-7, 188

Skinny: Probably the best blocker in the group and can catch, not as fast as others

Deon Hill, 6-0, 205

Skinny: Has size, speed and produced on special teams last year, could be better catching the ball.

Broderick Snoddy, 5-9, 190

Skinny: One of fastest on team, may end up at B-back

Tony Zenon, 5-8, 182

Skinny: Has great speed and shiftiness, needs to use it more effectively.

68 comments Add your comment

Marine Jacket

August 16th, 2012
7:20 am

Ken I think you might have found the time span to post an article and not have 15+ (exaggerated number) post within 5 seconds of you posting it.

Go Jackets!!!

Marine Jacket

August 16th, 2012
7:20 am

post = posts

WnE

August 16th, 2012
7:20 am

Hopefully first?

WnE

August 16th, 2012
7:22 am

Once again, 3 in at the tape simultaneously, we need a photo finish to show which 7:20 AM is really first.

WnE

August 16th, 2012
7:23 am

It must have been Marine Jacket, he made 2 posts at 7:20 AM so I guess he really was first.

Marine Jacket

August 16th, 2012
7:27 am

@WnE

And I read the article 1st. What are the odds of that?

Go Jackets!!!

Roswell Jacket

August 16th, 2012
7:30 am

Michael, any word on how Synjin has looked at A back? It looks like he is still number 2 QB.

Evidently Marine Jacket didn't read the whole article...

August 16th, 2012
7:33 am

…or he would have known that Ken did not write this one…Semper Fi, and thanks for serving, and Welcome Home…

WnE

August 16th, 2012
7:34 am

Once again, our A-back situation leads me to theorize that we/CPJ have done some poor recruiting at that position.

With the sheer numbers of schollies invested in A-Backs there should have been one guy step up by now and show that he deserves to be on the field opposite of Orwin.

Instead we have slew of under-sized guys that might do “one thing well”, but really isn’t the complete package.

I will also say once again that CPJ is making a huge mistake with Synjyn Days, we have poor depth at Safety behind Holton & I-Johnson, Days was Recruited by schools like Okla. State as a Safety.

The defense needs Days much more than A-Back needs Days, besides, Orwin has been a “superstar at A-Back” and he only averaged 6 carries per game, the A-back opposite of Orwin only averaged about 4 rushes per game.

That is not enough touches per game to justify using a 6-2 215 to 220lb. elite physical specimen with speed at A-Back, especially since we know that Orwin’s workload will increase this season, a guy with Days’ size & speed would have a much greater impact at Safety, the position that “all the other BCS HCs” projected for Days.

CPJ is making a huge mistake NOT moving Days to safety.

Chuck

August 16th, 2012
7:35 am

Theres proof ur the first to post but definitely not that you were the first to read it since u posted over an hour after the article was posted. You would be surprise how many people don’t have the time that we do to fart around and post meaningless drivel

Mr.Phoenix

August 16th, 2012
7:50 am

WnE, you are absolutly the best analyst on these boards. I totaly agree with you most of the time. I want to be like you when I grow up.
Did you coach somewhere in your earlier life or just a student of the game? You know the same thing was said about Nesbitt, using him on the defense.

WnE

August 16th, 2012
8:11 am

re:
Mr.Phoenix
August 16th, 2012
7:50 am

WnE, you are absolutly the best analyst on these boards. I totaly agree with you most of the time. I want to be like you when I grow up.
Did you coach somewhere in your earlier life or just a student of the game? You know the same thing was said about Nesbitt, using him on the defense.
________

I’m picking up on your sarcasm, but that’s fine.

But here are the facts:

Nesbitt was never comfortable as a passer in college, but he was fortunate to have more big-play guys on defense plus Dwyer & Bey-Bey.

Nesbitt made an NFL Practice squad and ultimately an NFL Roster at safety with no background at that position in college, IMO that means that had he played Safety for 3 or 4 years at GT, he would have probably been All-ACC or possibly an All-American.

Would you rather have a QB that is a liability as a passer or have that same Athlete be a dominant Safety?

Let me have as many dominant players on the field as possible, is my preference.

Mr.Phoenix

August 16th, 2012
8:17 am

I agree, but what Nesbitt did at QB was win and that is the bottom line.
Tech did not have another QB in Nesbitts ability to run the TO. Thus putting him at safety would have left the O w/o a good QB.

gt4ever

August 16th, 2012
8:22 am

@WnE

As much as it hurts to say….. :( You are 100 percent right! Damn you WnE…. :)

Ol'JacketFan

August 16th, 2012
8:24 am

Jacket Man

August 16th, 2012
8:25 am

Tony Zenon had a terrific Spring and is still showing well. He’ll get into the rotation this Fall and I suspect he’ll produce when on the field.

WnE

August 16th, 2012
8:35 am

re:
Jacket Man
August 16th, 2012
8:25 am

Tony Zenon had a terrific Spring and is still showing well. He’ll get into the rotation this Fall and I suspect he’ll produce when on the field.
____________

Last yr. Zenon looked great vs. Cupcake City, and then disappeared when we started to play “real competition”.

Convince me that this yr. will be different with Zenon.

razorjacket

August 16th, 2012
8:40 am

I’m a homer, but pretty much agree with WnE here, despite the bashing he receives. The tiny A-back model just does not work out at this level, yet he continues to bring them in. The fact that he wants to get Days “on the field” indicates he wants to keep some of these other guys “off the field.” There is a logjam at the position (some call it “depth”), yet no one stands out yet. I wish he’d recruit fewer oompa loompas, and bring in some true running back size guys for the position or maybe use some of those slots on defensive linemen.

Were you more comfortable with Lucas Cox or Anthony Allen at A-back, or Marcus Wright? Peeples was a bigger guy as well, though not as big and strong as Days

Where I disagree with WnE, is that I do agree with CPJ that he needs to get Days on the field on offense. He fits the mold I describe, and adds explosiveness like we had with Allen.

Supersize that order, mutt

August 16th, 2012
8:59 am

Who is Michael Cunningham. Apparently some of you didn’t actually read the article, or you would have noticed that Ken did not post it.

And, BTW………. U O A D !!!

Tech Dropout

August 16th, 2012
9:01 am

Tony Zenon is up to 182 lbs? Wow.

kingster

August 16th, 2012
9:01 am

Michael Cunningham, how does Tech look as far as major recruits for the other 4 or 5 slots they have available, anyone interesting or rated high, what are the positions Tech are looking for and what are there chances?

Tech Dropout

August 16th, 2012
9:04 am

I think the primary A back with be a one two punch with Smith and Days. Godhigh will be making people pay in the other A back spot.

juvenal

August 16th, 2012
9:14 am

flea flicker from Days!

Ken Sugiura

August 16th, 2012
9:44 am

well done, Marine Jacket.
I posted the story for Michael.
it sounds like Synjyn has done well enough at A-back. We’re not allowed to watch practice or scrimmages.
to answer a question from old blog from CT Jacket, I don’t know if they’d pair Smith and Days at A-back. it sounds like pretty formidable, though. Days liked the sound of it before camp, I remember.

StingerSplash

August 16th, 2012
10:29 am

Ken, if PJ has practices closed, does that mean you have to hang around outside Rose Bowl Field and catch everybody coming out of there? Or do they at least let you enjoy some air conditioning and bring players and coaches to you?

Ignition

August 16th, 2012
10:30 am

Next year Deon Hill & Synjyn Days at A Back sounds really exciting on the outside right next to Jeff Greene, Waller, and or whoever the tall strong fast receiver is..
Again CPJ open up the passing and put these kids in space..

StingerSplash

August 16th, 2012
10:32 am

PJ’s practice habits are a drastic departure from his days at Georgia Southern, where practices were completely open. Then again, there wasn’t much of a choice, since they took place with no privacy right next to the busiest intersection in Statesboro. A few of the older fans would attend practice every day and if they saw somebody they hadn’t seen before, they went and checked them out.

Burdell

August 16th, 2012
11:16 am

Is it wrong to say I sort of enjoy these latest articles without UOAD! around? For years, through all of the incarnations of his screen name, I have cringed reading some of the things he has posted…I’m sure he’ll be back soon. I do respect his passion for ALL things Tech. I’d love to meet the real guy, and some of you others, before a home game sometime…generally people are better in person than their online personas.

Season tickets are in the mail..probably get here today. Got my parking pass back in the AMC lot…now called McCamish Lot E65…hated parking in W11 last season during the construction.

GO JACKETS!

GTFish

August 16th, 2012
11:29 am

I still feel like Zenon isn’t getting enough credit. Maybe he has blocking issues. Hopefully we can get him on the feild as a kick returner.

CT_Jacket

August 16th, 2012
11:38 am

While I appreciate the mention, I don’t think that I posted that comment. Of course, memory is the first thing to go. Of course, memory is the first thing to go.

Teddy Roosevelt

August 16th, 2012
12:00 pm

Or we have enough talent that any of them at A-back can step in and produce.

fuzzybee78

August 16th, 2012
12:01 pm

Ken,—That be me on the Days and Smith question.
Ive been harping on keeping Days at A back because I too like the bigger guys coming off the edge like AA and Cox in years past. Also if he stays at A back this year he already knows the plays and continues to practice with the offense. If he switched to safety I dont see how he backs up at QB.
Plus whats not being said on the back up safety issue is that Thomas backs up at both safety and corner this year.

fuzzybee78

August 16th, 2012
12:18 pm

Days is being given every opportunity to start at QB. If next season this is a Vad or JT race at QB then maybe you look at Days at safety depending on your A back stable. You can argue that should have happened this spring but CPJ felt it best to give Days the shot at QB. I still think he helps the team most at A back now and for the future. Does that hurt his NFL prospects, depends on how good he might be at safety! This is a decent debate that will work out this winter.

SansWorld

August 16th, 2012
12:29 pm

Seems like Days would be a better fit at B-Back, He is big enough, and it seems like he could be the answer for some of the questions with that position. .We hae pleanty of depth at A back, less so at B-Back.

kingster

August 16th, 2012
1:14 pm

Well I’ll go back with you Ken Sugiura, the same question I asked Michael Cunningham, do you have any thoughts or information as the next recruits Tech may be close to signing, how many spots are available and if they may be a high profile recruit thats leaning toward the Jackets, I would like to know.

Yeller Bug

August 16th, 2012
1:52 pm

@CT Jacket: I always thought memory was the second thing to go…but I forget what the first thing is.

Supersize that order, mutt

August 16th, 2012
1:58 pm

@ Burdell……I have met UOAD in person, and he’s a really nice guy. He’s a little on the wild and crazy side, but he’s still a good guy. I cherish his friendship. And as far as meeting at a game sometime this year, keep tuning in, and we’ll let you know where and when. We only started doing that late last season, but we hope to make it a regular thing this year. You will be welcome to join us…..as well as any other regular TECH bloggers.

Supersize that order, mutt

August 16th, 2012
1:58 pm

@ Yeller Bug…..a former preacher of mine said that in a sermon once. It cracked me up.

Born2Buzz

August 16th, 2012
5:23 pm

What WnE fails to note is that almost all of these ABs are either Fr/RFrosh or So/RSo. As noted in another article, folks want these kids to walk in and be a star but it doesn’t happen like that. Only a handful of kids walk onto college fields and become stars right away (and guess where those kids are going – UGA, BAMA, FL – lets not kid ourselves). More than likely they will be really good players by their 3rd and 4th year.
I agree that I would rather see Days at AB as his size and speed fit well. I’m would be surprised if that isn’t where he ends up.
And speaking of kids, more than half of the roster is still Fr/RFr or S/RSo. There are only 38 upperclassmen on this roster (only 13 Srs of which only 7 will actually see the field). We might have a special year because there is more talent with the younguns, but in 2 more years we will have a lot of MEN on the field instead of boys. That is how you win big, with the majority of your players having 3/4/5 years of experience.
It really takes 3 years for a new coach to get traction with his recruiting. I think we are starting to see it with CPJ. No matter what WnE says!

Born2Buzz

August 16th, 2012
5:25 pm

Oh, and all this talk of who the AB and BB are is great but the real key to a special season is the D and ST stepping up. The O has not really be a problem.

big gt fan

August 16th, 2012
5:58 pm

wne the reason the abacks dont get carries because your division 3 qb do not pitch the ball he keeps it all the time.

just saying

August 16th, 2012
6:06 pm

The Louis Young story was presented as if Young committed a crime, dealing dope and carrying a concealed weapon or something.,..geez….it’s not that awful….wish he could play vs vt

Paddy

August 16th, 2012
6:10 pm

big gt fan………You are so right. If TW dos not get into that pitch mode, it takes the big play factor out of the offense.

GT Lee

August 16th, 2012
6:12 pm

“the reason the abacks dont get carries because your division 3 qb do not pitch the ball he keeps it all the time”

Last year teams were covering the pitch man, forcing the qb to keep it. This was beacause TW was not the bruising runner that Nesbitt was.

WnE

August 17th, 2012
9:18 am

re:
Born2Buzz
August 16th, 2012
5:23 pm

What WnE fails to note is that almost all of these ABs are either Fr/RFrosh or So/RSo. As noted in another article, folks want these kids to walk in and be a star but it doesn’t happen like that. Only a handful of kids walk onto college fields and become stars right away (and guess where those kids are going – UGA, BAMA, FL – lets not kid ourselves). More than likely they will be really good players by their 3rd and 4th year.
I agree that I would rather see Days at AB as his size and speed fit well. I’m would be surprised if that isn’t where he ends up.
And speaking of kids, more than half of the roster is still Fr/RFr or S/RSo. There are only 38 upperclassmen on this roster (only 13 Srs of which only 7 will actually see the field). We might have a special year because there is more talent with the younguns, but in 2 more years we will have a lot of MEN on the field instead of boys. That is how you win big, with the majority of your players having 3/4/5 years of experience.
It really takes 3 years for a new coach to get traction with his recruiting. I think we are starting to see it with CPJ. No matter what WnE says!
___________________

Yet another huge lie that the CPJ apologists constantly put out to defend this HCs poor recruiting of A-backs.

Other than Orwin that is a Sr. and in his 4th yr. out of HS the other A-backs have this level of experience:

BJ Bostic RS-Soph. 3rd yr. out of HS
Robbie Godhigh RS-Jr. 4th yr. out of HS
Deon Hill RS-Soph 3rd yr. out of HS
Tony Zenon RS-Soph 3rd yr. out of HS
Broderick Snoddy RS-Fr. 2nd yr. out of HS

When you throw in Orwin, that means that all of our A-backs except ONE are in their 3rd or 4th year out of HS and are eligible for the NFL Draft IF they are good enough.

I use yrs. out of HS to measure players because it gives an indication of whether or not the player will get any bigger, stronger, faster.

GT has a lot of A-backs that won’t develop a whole lot more, they are what they are.

Look at TJ Barnes, he’s in his 5th yr. out of HS , he’s not going to magically become some stud now when he hasn’t come close to showing that in his past.

I see a bunch of guys that are in their 3rd & 4th yrs. out of HS and yet you are claiming that we are young at A-back, we are young when it comes to “game experience” they are young because they were not “good enough” to get on the field earlier in their careers, ergo they won’t magically become game changers later in their careers.

Dwyer was legitimately pushing Tashard Choice for PT as a T-Fr., he became a game changer as a T-Soph..

None of these guys made a push for PT early in their careers, so it is very unlikely they will ever be game changers.

This is WHY CPJ is trying to push Days to A-back, to cover up for his poor Recruiting at the position.

Snoddy is the only player that you can claim is young and he’s in his 2nd yr. out of HS, in today’s modern CFB, that is no longer considered young.

In summary we are not nearly as young at A-back as you claim we are.

1 4 GT

August 17th, 2012
9:51 am

HoHumm!! Bark bark Shut up and scratch behind my ears. Woooooof! (thanks pal) Ruff Ruuf Yip Yap (you’re wrong bud) ewruh (bone looks good!) ewfruh (gimme gimme) gnaw gnaw lick gnaw whinnnnnne (man, this bone is great)

crackbaby

August 17th, 2012
10:02 am

Folks,

Ignore the didactic closet masterbater whose myopic drivel is vomit-inducing in its persistence and inaccuracy.

Seriously, who goes to a college football game and watches the game with the mentality of when No. 20 was recruited and his rating as a H.S. player? Why even watch the games if all that matters is recruiting?

With respect to 2011 – check the O-line. Herschel Walker or Barry Sanders would not have gained 1,000 yards with the disjointed performance by that crew.

When Synjyn has played QB, he too often fails to hand-off or pitch the ball and runs himself. The opposing defenses knew this and keyed on Days. He’s a very good runner – that is why he is slotted at A-back. He is a play maker.

Moving Days to safety is a stupid idea. GT is deeper at secondary than it has ever been. There are already 5 excellent starters for 4 positions (Sweeting, Young, Johnson, Holton and Thomas).

Did CPJ under perform in recruiting A-backs for two years? Maybe he did. So what? We have plenty of talent to fill the gap, IF the O-line does their job.

Here’s where CPJ deserves a lot of credit. He never dictated a position change to Synjyn (like making him switch to defense). Coach let the kid pursue his dreams. Thing is, his performance doesn’t merit much playing time at QB.

Playing football is always more fun than watching from the sidelines. Synjyn wants to play and will get PT at A-back. And he will play QB if Tevin goes down early in the season.

There is hope and promise on the Flats this year. Go Jackets!

1 4 GT

August 17th, 2012
10:38 am

Well said crackbaby!!

WnE

August 17th, 2012
11:01 am

re:
Moving Days to safety is a stupid idea. GT is deeper at secondary than it has ever been. There are already 5 excellent starters for 4 positions (Sweeting, Young, Johnson, Holton and Thomas).
____________

When it comes to analyzing GT FB I guess you are a crackbaby.

Holton has not played much from scrimmage and is coming back off of a Major Injury that slows down skill players, and he was only a 4.6 guy before the injury, there’s guarantee that the ruptured Achilles hasn’t cost him a step or so.

I-Johnson has not played well vs. better competition.

Those are our 2 starting Safeties and IMO they are huge question marks.

The back up Safeties are much worse and one of the #2s is a former Walk-on that just got a scholly.

Our CBs played horribly down the stretch last yr., they were exposed vs. Dook, were burned vs. UGa. by their T-fr. & RS-fr. WRrs, and vs. Utah in the Bowl Game we could not stop Utah’s horrible passing game even when we knew they had to pass to come back.

Just because everyone says we have a good 2ndary that doesn’t make it true.

I will admit our CBs are better than our Safeties, but our Safeties are huge question mark IMO.

Marine Jacket

August 17th, 2012
11:02 am

@Chuck

If you think my posts are dribble don’t read them. I don’t spend my time trying to be first on a bolt, if I were I would have posted 1st. Since you can’t put two and two together I will. My post was a comment that the time the blog went up was at a point through the day no one was trolling to be first.

Go Jackets!!!!