Before Georgia Tech’s season began, Robbie Godhigh set a goal to win one of the two starting A-back spots. It would be no minor achievement for Godhigh, a former walk-on who is also among the smallest Yellow Jackets.
In a season in which the Yellow Jackets haven’t been able to depend on much, Godhigh has started every game this season and has been among the team’s most consistent players. Many of Tech’s longest runs have been propelled by Godhigh blocks. Others have been carried out by Godhigh himself.
“It feels good to reach one of my goals, to come out and start and things like that,” Godhigh said. “But I’m still hungry. I still want to achieve more things and help the team turn it around this last part of the season.”
Godhigh leads the A-backs this season in knockdown blocks, though neither A-backs coach Lamar Owens nor Godhigh knew the actual number when interviewed after Wednesday’s practice. Saturday, he’ll likely need to throw a few more for the Yellow Jackets’ running game to operate efficiently against North Carolina, which ranks No. 19 in the country against the run.
“He’s done a good job at what we’ve asked him to do,” coach Paul Johnson said.
Godhigh is the rare back who actually enjoys blocking, cutting defenders down to the ground, hurling his body at their legs to topple them like bowling pins. It is punishment without much personal reward, which Godhigh doesn’t mind.
“I love it,” he said. “I just like being aggressive, going out and knocking people down.”
It is a skill learned from Owens and from watching Tech’s original A-back master of cut blocking, Roddy Jones. To Owens, Godhigh’s facility at blocking stems from his explosiveness, quickness in confined spaces, power and commitment to the craft. When Godhigh first arrived as a walk-on from Harrison High in Cobb County, Jones remembered him as a stocky, muscular player who made an impression in the weight room and in workouts with his strength and balance.
“He’s tenacious and he’s not afraid of anything,” Jones said. “He’ll go in and lead up on a linebacker just as quickly as he’ll arc block a defensive back.”
One other Godhigh tidbit, courtesy of Jones: “He’s the original RGIII in our minds.”
He is indeed Robert Alexander Godhigh III. As Jones recalls it, teammates began calling Godhigh “RGIII” before Washington Redskins star quarterback Robert Griffin III burst onto the national stage.
His effectiveness ought not be too unexpected. Godhigh was a do-it-all star at Harrison and was named the county player of the year over the likes of quarterback Hutson Mason and tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen, now at Georgia and Auburn, respectively. Godhigh’s size, however, limited his scholarship offers to FCS-level teams such as Wofford and Western Carolina. He chose to walk on at Tech.
“Two of three years of hard work is starting to pay some dividends,” Owens said.
He has proven capable with the ball in his hands, as well. He scored Tech’s first touchdown of the season, a 12-yard scoring run against Virginia Tech in the season opener, and has 32 carries for 275 yards. His 8.6 yards-per-carry average is second on the team to fellow starting A-back Orwin Smith. He made his most memorable run against Clemson. He carried an option pitch to near the left sideline, broke a tackle, then reversed field, faked a defensive back to the ground and ended up at the right sideline, covering perhaps 80 yards for a 25-yard gain.
All of it – the strength to shed a tackle, the confidence and vision to break the play and reverse field, the quickness to juke a defender off his feet and the speed to outrun the Clemson defense – was hardly the work of a typical walk-on. Little he has done this season is.
“I knew I could do it,” he said. “It was just, once I got my opportunity, just make the most of it and show the coaches what I could do.”
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Ken Sugiura, Georgia Tech blog