While Georgia Tech guard Omoregie Uzzi has won wide recognition for his play, neither safety Jemea Thomas nor A-back Robbie Godhigh received a single vote from coaches or media for All-ACC selection. All three, though, earned plenty of respect and acknowledgement of their teammates.
Fifteen Tech players were asked for their choices for the Yellow Jackets’ top offensive and defensive players for the season, selected the two playmakers. Thomas won by a wide margin as the top defender, while Godhigh and Uzzi tied for having the best seasons on offense.
Even during the rockier moments of the season, “people don’t really realize this, but Jemea, he always played at his peak,” outside linebacker Jeremiah Attaochu said.
Said Thomas of Godhigh, “Robbie’s phenomenal. Robbie just does things when he gets the ball.”
Said guard Shaquille Mason of Uzzi, “Most people don’t see how effective he is, but as a one-on-one blocker, he’ll win the battle every time.”
Going into Monday’s Sun Bowl against USC, Thomas is second on the team in tackles with 82, tied for first in pass breakups with Rod Sweeting with five and first in interceptions with four. He maintained his status as one of the Jackets’ fiercest hitters, meting out a number of punishing tackles. Playing corner at the start of the season and then switching to safety, he has delivered consistent play and the occasional highlight.
“Just that whole (switching positions) thing, it’s not easy, but Jemea makes it easy,” Attaochu said.
Most memorably, playing with a bruised right shoulder in the ACC championship game that prevented him from raising his arm, Thomas made a diving one-handed interception of Seminoles’ quarterback EJ Manuel late in the fourth quarter to keep Tech’s hopes alive.
“Non-stop motor, he’s always flying around, not giving up,” A-back Orwin Smith said. “We could be down as a team 30 points and he’s still out there hitting people and making tackles and interceptions.”
Uzzi was a first-team All-ACC pick for the second consecutive year, a locomotive force in Tech’s spread-option attack. A three-year starter, he has been a linchpin as Tech has ranked fourth or better in FBS in rushing each season. A team captain, Uzzi started every game this season. He’ll finish his career dueling with a line that includes defensive tackle Leonard Williams, the Pac-12 defensive freshman of the year.
Said Mason, “Our offense runs through him.”
Godhigh has been one of Tech’s brightest spots in its 6-7 season. A former walk-on, Godhigh earned a starting position in fall camp and proved to be Tech’s best perimeter blocker and also a capable playmaker with the ball in his hands. He had 10 plays of 20 yards or more on 51 carries and 15 receptions, almost identically the same rate as A-back Orwin Smith.
He was at his best against North Carolina. On three consecutive touches in the third quarter, Godhigh scored on a four-yard run, a 27-yard run and a 32-yard reception from quarterback Vad Lee as the Jackets put up 30 points in the quarter to roll to their 68-50 win over the Tar Heels.
The three touchdowns in one quarter was one shy of the NCAA record. For the season, Godhigh’s 51 carries have gained 416 yards, an 8.2 yards-per-carry average. His 15 receptions have netted 227 yards, for a 15.1 yards-per-reception average, and four touchdowns. He is fourth on the team in all-purpose yards.
Coming to Tech as a walk-on from Harrison High in Cobb County, “I’ve had that chip on my shoulder and just wanted to go out there and play hard and show everyone what I could do,” he said. “I hope that what I did proved people wrong.”
Godhigh’s ascension was no surprise at all to wide receiver Darren Waller, another Cobb product. The two have played against each other since middle school.
“Coming here, people are like, Wow, Robbie’s doing all this,” Waller said. “I’m like, it’s just the same Robbie I’ve grown up playing with.”
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Ken Sugiura, Georgia Tech blog