Orwin Smith tries for strong finish

Orwin Smith will leave Georgia Tech with at least one keepsake.

“I think we can actually buy the helmets, so I plan on taking that,” he said. “And even if I can’t buy it, I’m going to plan on taking it.”

Smith, Tech’s illustrious A-back, chuckled. The reality is, whatever he does with his helmet, he’ll leave the Yellow Jackets with far more than that. Smith, whose Tech career will conclude Dec. 31 against USC in the Sun Bowl, will take with him a reputation as one of the most explosive players in school history, one who approached the game with a professional mindset.

“When he came in here, he was a really quiet guy and I think as he’s played more, he’s blossomed into more of a personality guy,” coach Paul Johnson said. “But he’s had a really good career here. A lot of good games and a lot of big plays.”

The numbers are hard to dispute, starting with a 9.4 yards-per-carry career average, the highest in ACC history for any player with at least 1,000 yards. He became the first Tech player to accumulate more than 100 rushing and receiving yards in the same game, last year’s 66-24 annihilation of Kansas, when he also set a school record for longest run with a 95-yard rush on the Jackets’ first snap from scrimmage. He has produced 35 offensive plays of 20 yards or more (on 238 carries and receptions), a rate of one per 6.8 touches.

Starting his career as a true freshman in 2009, Smith has combined speed and power on the perimeter to fulfill the big-play potential for A-backs in Johnson’s spread-option offense.

“I can’t complain,” Smith said. “A lot of guys would have loved to have the opportunities and the numbers that I was able to get. I feel like I have to be grateful even if I feel like maybe it wasn’t quite as good as I wanted it to be.”

Injuries and the team’s 6-7 record have led Smith to call his senior season bittersweet. Smith leads the team with 673 rushing yards. If he can finish as the leader, he’ll be the first A-back to lead the team in rushing for any of Johnson’s teams at Tech, Navy or Georgia Southern. He’ll do so despite having missed the Georgia and Florida State games with an ankle injury (he is cleared for the Sun Bowl) and most of the Presbyterian game with a shoulder injury.

He shot down the sideline for a 77-yard touchdown run against Virginia and drilled Clemson for 149 yards of total offense on just eight touches. Cornerback Louis Young picked Smith as the team’s offensive player of the year.

“I know when we’re trying to get a first down and it looks like it’s not going to go anywhere, he makes something out of nothing,” Young said. “He’s been doing that ever since I got here.”

With six carries against USC, he’ll become Tech’s all-time leader in yards-per-carry average (200 carry minimum). With 107 yards, he’ll qualify for the ACC’s single-season yards-per-carry record and rank second all-time. Smith enters the game with a 9.0 yards-per-carry for the year.

Smith has approached his time at Tech with a purpose that has only sharpened with time. He took yoga classes over the summer to improve his flexibility and has not had a hamburger since May.

The first on his mother’s side of the family to attend college, Smith has also been academically motivated. He is two classes shy of a management degree. He has held two summer internships and is considering an MBA down the line. He’ll almost certainly get a shot at the NFL, either as a draft choice or an undrafted free agent.

He can be a difference-maker again for Tech, as the first Jackets A-back to make the NFL.

“I definitely think it’ll help with recruiting, and then also the guys that are here now,” he said. “I mean, you see someone make it, it’s like, I can do it, too.”

It’s not a helmet, but it wouldn’t be bad.

In case you missed it…

35 football players make dean’s list

Notes: Milton likely replacement for I. Johnson

Notes: USC defense loaded

Dan Radakovich Q&A

Four points from Tech-Alabama State

Jackets dump Alabama State

Notes: Waller’s confidence growing

Greene no longer with team

Notes: Orwin Smith nears record

Tech notes: When Shaq met Shaq

Thanks for reading.

Ken Sugiura, Georgia Tech blog

48 comments Add your comment

GT Rich

December 20th, 2012
10:12 pm

Hope Orwin finishes strong!!


December 20th, 2012
10:37 pm

years ago, i bought a helmet made into a table lamp. can’t find it now. been too long.
smith is big and strong. but…in the nfl, you need moves.


December 20th, 2012
10:37 pm


December 20th, 2012
10:38 pm

Gr8 2B aFuzzyB

December 21st, 2012
12:00 am

Orwin should have his 6 carries by halftime. I’m just hoping Vad is doing the pitching on some of them.


December 21st, 2012
1:34 am


December 21st, 2012
3:53 am

The toss-sweep to Smith is deadly. It always seems to gain major yards. Can’t understand why PJ doesn’t run it more often.

Hold On!!!

December 21st, 2012
7:54 am

@Gr8 2B aFuzzyB – Orwin should have 6 carries in the 1st quarter let alone the 1st half. He is yalls best player on offense and possibly the team. If he does not have the 6 carries by the end of the 1st, then CPJ REALLY can not call plays….


December 21st, 2012
8:46 am

Outstanding young man. Best wishes to you in all that you do with your life.


December 21st, 2012
8:49 am

The great Georgia Tech football player Larry Morris died december 19th. All SEC, All American and MVP of the Super Bowl Chicago Bears. Perhaps the best all time Tech player. Rest in peace Larry!

Old Blind Dawg

December 21st, 2012
8:49 am

Nice piece Ken. As a UGA fan my heart always stopped when I saw the pitch going to Smith. Hope he can catch on with someone at the next level as a change of pace RB.

Freddie Blassie

December 21st, 2012
9:35 am

Good ball player and he’s had some good blocking for him in this system. Good receiver, too. Beat So. Cal.

The Dream

December 21st, 2012
9:46 am

I remember the comments made when he signed with Tech. Alabama had him on their list, but he came to Tech. All the Bama folks said they didn’t want him, so Tech was welcome to him. All I can say is thanks so much. It’s been a fun ride watching him come around the corner and blaze up the field. We were a better team with him touching the ball for sure. Best of luck in your next career and we will miss your time on the field. So nice to have a player that does his job so well and brings no headaches to the school.


December 21st, 2012
9:49 am

Will miss Smith, not only a great runner but also a great receiver. Larry Morris was truly one of the great ones. He and George Morris (no relationship) really helped make Tech football something special when they palyed.


December 21st, 2012
9:59 am

I have always been impressed with Orwin Smith as a player and as a person………….he reminds me of Calvin Johnson because both players were extremely successful on the football feild AND they both are high character young men with positive/team-first attitudes!

No doubt Calvin would have been more dominate and put up better numbers with a more capable QB.

No doubt Orwin would have been more dominate and put up better numbers without unfortunate injuries and IF the four GT teams he played on had a more capable QB (opposing teams would have been forced to honor the pass which would have resulted in more success with regard to the running game).

Thanks Orwin and good luck in the future!!!!

Tech Grad

December 21st, 2012
10:25 am

Orwin was hyped up to be our “star” player. That’s pretty sad. Orwin sucks. His yards come from the system. Orwin sucks and he is a soft player.


December 21st, 2012
10:48 am

@Tech Grad….You are no Tech Grad. BTW go crawl under your rock.


December 21st, 2012
10:50 am

Tech Grad wishes he could have gotten into tech, unfortunately Tech doesn’t accept future janitors into our engineering programs. He like many other low-life people went to Walmart and stocked up on everything UGA.


December 21st, 2012
11:14 am

I just read this. WnE posted it on an older article. I couldn’t help but crack up because he or she also has a glaring, grammatical error. It is the kind of stuff you learn in the 3rd grade. Can you find it?


5150 UOAD
December 16th, 2012
11:11 am

Jahi Word-Daniels
Finally an alumni! Going back and getting my degree…Way better feeling than playing in the NFL!! God is good!

As a GT alum, maybe Jahi should get the Athl. Depth tutors to screen his erroneous twitter messages.

Alumni is PLURAL, he should have tweeted “finally an Alumnus”, the SINGULAR form, I think you learn that sort of stuff in the 5th or 6th grade.

Maybe we as a fanbase need to stop poking fun at other schools athletes and what they do academically and face the fact that in MANY CASES( not all. but many) we recruit the same guys as everyone else does, but the really good ones don’t want to come play for GT.

@ The Dream

December 21st, 2012
12:05 pm

Sorry but Bama never had Smith on any list. Perhaps you mean Auburn perhaps you are simply dreaming.


December 21st, 2012
12:17 pm

do i need to say it?


Al Bundy

December 21st, 2012
2:12 pm

A real class act. I hope he runs for 300+ yards against USC.

realistic fan

December 21st, 2012
2:18 pm

What was Tech’s won and lost record during Orwin’s tenure? That is the thing that defines a sucessful player. Class kid though.

Just FYI

December 21st, 2012
2:33 pm

Anthony Allen was the first A-back to make it to the NFL. He spent his first season on The Flats at A-back, before he assumed the B-back position when Dwyer left for the NFL. Orwin would be the first back to only play A-back and make the NFL, if he were to accomplish it.

Ken Sugiura

December 21st, 2012
2:50 pm

Just FYI – I am aware of Anthony Allen playing A-back. I would consider him a B-back as that is what he played as a senior.


December 21st, 2012
3:45 pm


Why would you even bring this up? What a TOTAL non issue… Who the Hell cares if he used the word improperly… Good Grief!


December 21st, 2012
4:07 pm

Poor Tech fans. It looks like the world isn’t going to end today after all. I know you were hoping you wouldn’t have to endure anymore football seasons of misery and humiliation. Unfortunately, the Sun Bowl is still on and Tech will be fielding a football team in 2013. Tough break guys.


December 21st, 2012
4:15 pm

yeah dawgfan,,,, but you know what… At the end of the day, I would rather be a Yellow Jacket, than sit around licking my balls….


December 21st, 2012
4:30 pm

How many more headlines like “Successful career for Tech long snapper” can you endure? I thought I was reading The Onion for a second there. I don’t know how you get through it all. I guess I admire you in a way.


December 21st, 2012
4:31 pm

Enjoy the citrus bowl. Last time GT was there we won a National Championship. What Championship will the Dwags be playing for?

@ GTfan2012

December 21st, 2012
4:47 pm

Get back to us when you are able to play the Dawgs close.

We already won the state championship by pounding tek once again.

Same old envy……………………………..pops up on every tek blog.


December 21st, 2012
4:50 pm

“Enjoy the citrus bowl. Last time GT was there we won a National Championship.”

Thank you for the ancient history lesson. Milli Vanilli was also very popular at the time. I don’t see them winning any Grammy’s these days, do you? Take Advil for headaches.

“What Championship will the Dwags be playing for?”

What bag will you be putting over your head when your 6-7 joke football team takes the field for the Sun Bowl?


December 21st, 2012
4:54 pm

Have a Merry Christmas Mr. “@”!


December 21st, 2012
4:55 pm

Merry Christmas “dawgfan”!


December 21st, 2012
4:56 pm

Mr. “@” and “dawgfan” are the same person. Merry Christmas to both of you!


December 21st, 2012
5:12 pm

Five yards short and no timeouts left!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Will they be rated in the top five again next year???/

Georgia did have a National Champion this year! Valdosta State!!!!!!!


December 21st, 2012
8:21 pm

Orwin should be GIVEN his helmet.
He should not have to even think about buying his helmet!
Yes, Valdosta State did win their division national championship.
And their head coach is a former Ga Tech player.


December 21st, 2012
8:49 pm


Can you read? I posted that because the guy called out a player over a grammatical error when he himself had one. I only pointed it out because it was hypocritical.

Why? Are you WnE in disguise or something?


December 21st, 2012
8:51 pm

Also, gt4ever, if you could read, you would see that I pointed out that WnE posted that on another article. I was only making fun of him for making fun of a player.

tired from all the frustrations of being a yellow jacket

December 22nd, 2012
6:38 am

there is no question that Smith is the ace of the base where Tech runners are concerned. But don’t blame johnson for the limited number of plays called his way. Evertime that Smith ran the ball he inevitably took himself out of the ballgame. If he is to make it in the pros, he must show more durability. I never witnessed any player take himself out of the game as much as Orin did.

5150 UOAD

December 22nd, 2012
7:44 am

When did you see Orwin take himself out of the game? JOHNSON swaps set all the time. I don’t think Orwin was asking coach to pull him.


December 22nd, 2012
8:23 am

maybe the Valdosta State coach should be the ONE added to CPJ’s staff. Former GT player that knows how to WIN.


December 22nd, 2012
12:06 pm

we didn’t have Orwin….we had Isaiah, Washaun, Caleb…..Mettenberger…..all class acts

[...] Orwin Smith tries for strong finish [...]


December 22nd, 2012
7:07 pm

lame awesomeb….. and NO i am not Wne…


December 22nd, 2012
7:12 pm

and why does every one HATE WnE so much.. I have been reading his posts for a while, and he doesn’t miss the mark many times…


December 22nd, 2012
9:35 pm

So gt4ever, you got mad at me for calling out the player for making a grammatical error, but when you found out it was WnE that actually did that, suddenly it was no big deal. Hmmmmm.


December 27th, 2012
3:52 pm

I still don’t understand why mutt fans feel the need to post on every GT article..nothing better to do?