Josh Nesbitt: ‘Warrior’ quarterback becomes Tech folk hero

Of the many things that happened in Tallahassee on a stormy Saturday night/Sunday morning, the one that lingers most transcended mere football and became instant lore. With seven-plus minutes left and Tech leading 42-38 in a game that would see 93 points scored and would  last more than 4 1/2 hours, Josh Nesbitt stopped being a football player and became a folk hero.

Wrote Taz Anderson, the Atlanta entrepreneur who was a Georgia Tech captain under Bobby Dodd in 1960, in an e-mail: “I’ve been watching this game a long time, and I have never seen a play like Nesbitt’s.”

Said Paul Johnson, Tech’s coach: “We work on [doing what Nesbitt did] in practice. I’m kidding … That was all No. 9.”

What No. 9 did: Flipped a pitch to A-back Roddy Jones, who dropped it; saw Nigel Carr, a Florida State linebacker who weighs 230 pounds, pick it up; ran over to Carr and tore the ball from his grasp, regaining possession in a game where possession meant everything. (The moment can be viewed and reviewed in the YouTube clip below.)

Johnson: “I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a quarterback do that.”

Anderson: “That is a young man who was not going to lose.”

Said Brian Bohannon, who coaches Tech’s quarterbacks: “He’s a tough guy, and he wants to win … He’s got a lot of pride.”

In the time it took to snatch from a bigger man, Nesbitt made himself the symbol of an historic Tech victory — the Jackets had never won at Doak Campbell Stadium — and a team that seems as stubborn as it is  skilled. He had little idea of what he was doing, and even now the immensity of that one play hasn’t fully sunk in.

“I wasn’t aware of [Tech fans' adoring response],” Nesbitt said Wednesday. “But I’m glad to know they liked it.”

About the sequence: “I was going to try to tackle the guy, and then I saw the ball. When your back is behind the wall, you’ll do anything.”

It should be noted that Nesbitt did more than save the game. He won the game, too. He rushed for 140 yards. He passed for 131 yards (on just eight attempts). He scored three touchdowns and threw a touchdown pass. Indeed, two snaps after he reclaimed possession from Carr, Nesbitt stormed 22 yards to the score that, for the first time in a long game, gave one side a double-digit lead.

“I’d always wanted to play on that field,” he said. “I remember [Florida State legend] Deion Sanders, and then Warrick Dunn and Peter Warrick.”

And then Nesbitt, on his first trip to Tallahassee as a starting quarterback, did something legendary himself. When he arrived back on campus in the early hours Sunday, he reports that he “slept good.” And this week fellow students keep telling him, “Man, that was a wild game.”

You wouldn’t call Nesbitt a classic quarterback — through three games, he’d completed only 15 of 40 passes — but you’d want him on your team. He has thrown the ball more precisely (22 completions in 33 attempts) the past three games, and that fits the Nesbitt profile: He gets better as he goes. Tech gained 116 yards in the fourth quarter against FSU; Nesbitt accounted for 105 of them.

Speaking of Nesbitt, Johnson told reporters this week: “He played like a warrior out there.” That description is deployed so often it has become trite. Except in this case. No other word fits the way Nesbitt performed in Tallahassee.

He was bold and indomitable, and now he’s a folk hero. Josh Nesbitt had himself a long good night.

359 comments Add your comment

Fan of Nesbitt

October 15th, 2009
11:07 am

Thanks for posting the video.

TechDan

October 15th, 2009
11:07 am

I bet I missed first again because I stopped to read the article.

David Granger

October 15th, 2009
11:07 am

Nesbitt will be the last offensive star to play against the UGA defense this season…that should make him a favorite for the Heisman.

TechDan

October 15th, 2009
11:07 am

JACKETS445

October 15th, 2009
11:08 am

Great column Mark..josh might just be the diffrence maker in saturday nights game.

steverino

October 15th, 2009
11:09 am

Amazing play. The type of event that usually happens TO the Jackets.

Mark Bradley

October 15th, 2009
11:10 am

A tip: Don’t read. (That’s generally a good idea with anything I write.) Just type, “First.” Then all glory will be yours.

Mark Bradley

October 15th, 2009
11:10 am

Well said, Steverino.

Gtutv

October 15th, 2009
11:11 am

He’s Vince Young with HEART!

Tech 06

October 15th, 2009
11:11 am

Thanks for writing this Mark. I can’t believe that this play isn’t getting more attention from the four letter network. Josh is a warrior and if he keeps playing like this he will be a GT legend. He’s already beaten Georgia in his first attempt, beat FSU twice, and Clemson twice.

Mark Bradley

October 15th, 2009
11:12 am

You know, Tech 06, we were discussing that at Tech yesterday: Why hasn’t this clip become an ESPN staple? It was on ESPN2, as I remember.

collegeballfan

October 15th, 2009
11:13 am

Really big play wasn’t it! It reminded me of the Pollack “fumble recovery” in the South Carolina end zone.

Jackets will need all the “tough” they can come up with this week.

I love BIG games, and this is a biggee.

WhiteandGold

October 15th, 2009
11:13 am

Josh willed the team to a big win – that play was awesome. Keep it up Josh!

Mark Bradley

October 15th, 2009
11:14 am

I was at the Pollack game, too. That was incredible its ownself.

Mark Bradley

October 15th, 2009
11:15 am

And there was, believe it or not, a lightning delay that day in Columbia. Coincidence?

Beat Beamer

October 15th, 2009
11:16 am

Nesbitt stole that ball back !

bossross

October 15th, 2009
11:18 am

Mark,
Your statistics are wrong. He is 22-33 in his last 3 games. Big difference between 67% completion and 50% completion.

WhiteandGold

October 15th, 2009
11:19 am

The FSU game decreased my life expectancy by at least one year. The win made up some.

MHC

October 15th, 2009
11:21 am

Maurice Clarett made a play like that in the Championship game against Miami some years back. It still does not take away from the fact that Nesbitt’s play was awesome.

Atticus

October 15th, 2009
11:24 am

Congrats to Tech, they are doing well. Just be careful though, they really haven’t played a great team, this weekend will tell more although Va Tech couldn’t hang with Bama. Tech’s defense is pathetic though.

TechDan

October 15th, 2009
11:25 am

I would say that having the lead to start the fourth quarter would be considered hanging with Bama, Atticus.

juvenal

October 15th, 2009
11:26 am

i think MB was talking about his 1st 3 games-oddly enough, Josh did not make rivals 1st 25, while Ponders moved up-has it become more about throwing than winning?he has truly become a great option qb since um…

misterwax

October 15th, 2009
11:29 am

the key for the game Sat. is that he does not fumble 3 more pitches and lose them…..VT will not be so forgiving….GT will win if they just hold on to the ball.

bossross

October 15th, 2009
11:30 am

Thanks for the correction MB.

FSU Roster

October 15th, 2009
11:30 am

FSU # 12 is Nigel Carr, a 6′ 3″ — 230 pound sophomore linebacker from Jacksonville.

misterwax

October 15th, 2009
11:31 am

Mark, just make sure he doesn’t fumble the ball and GT will win.

Heath

October 15th, 2009
11:31 am

I have it on good authority from Chip Carrey that Nesbitt has done the same thing for Georgia, South Florida and Notre Dame. He also tells me that Nesbitt will run for a touchdown this week, scoring Tech 4 points.

Mark Bradley

October 15th, 2009
11:32 am

No, I thank you for correcting me, BossRoss. I added wrong. I did not, as is obvious, go to Georgia Tech.

Heath

October 15th, 2009
11:32 am

Correction: According to Carrey, he was wrong, Nesbitt never played for Georgia, South Florida or Notre Dame. Also, his touchdown run will be good for 5 points, not four.

Heath

October 15th, 2009
11:33 am

According to Chip Carrey, Mark, you DID go to Tech, and hit a line drive single for their baseball team that was caught for a double play.

JACKETS445

October 15th, 2009
11:34 am

hey mark what was your prediction for this game?

Heath

October 15th, 2009
11:37 am

Sorry, Chip had told me his name was spelled Carrey, not Caray. He has since corrected himself.

wes

October 15th, 2009
11:49 am

Nesbitt would kick Tebow’s arse in a fist fight.

Yazoo

October 15th, 2009
11:52 am

We need to put Nesbitt at DT!

spack

October 15th, 2009
11:57 am

Mark, thank you for your 2 blogs of the FSU game. You have certainly captured this fan’s emotions in, and with, your writing.

Ted Striker

October 15th, 2009
12:00 pm

I made a play sort of like that once. Someone dropped a twinkie while standing a good 5 feet away from me and I caught it before it hit the ground.

GaNole

October 15th, 2009
12:05 pm

Nesbitt is a winner, good luck the rest of the season.

Trade School Junkie

October 15th, 2009
12:10 pm

Josh Nesbitt…he’s a BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAADD Man !

RogerDawg

October 15th, 2009
12:14 pm

MB-

You’re amazing Bradley. You’ve truely leaped unto that clunker car of Georgia Tech haven’t you? I’m guessing you’ll come riding out on it when those nerds take the field saturday night waving your pom-poms right along with the other cheerleaders?

Give credit where it’s due Bradley. This kid couldn’t play at UGA, he wouldn’t start in front of Joe. This is too funny the lolly-gag stuff you’re writing kissing CPJ’s backside.

RogerDawg

October 15th, 2009
12:17 pm

MB-

You’re truely drinking the Tech kool-aid as of late aren’t you? I guess we’ll see you ride out on that Tech junker of a car Saturday night along with the cheerleaders waving your pom poms?

Fact is, this kid isn’t a QB, he wouldn’t even see the field at UGA. He’d be handing Joe Cox towels during practice. This is really lunatic writing. What does CPJ have on you anyway Bradley?

Sting 'em Buzz

October 15th, 2009
12:33 pm

RogerDawg…it looks like Cox shouldn’t be starting there either.

RogerDawg's therapist

October 15th, 2009
12:33 pm

Mark,
I apologize for my client’s behavior and his nonsensical comments. He has been off his medication for a few days and as a result he is unable to think clearly. We will try to get him stabalized before he attempts to post anything else.

TampabayJacket

October 15th, 2009
12:37 pm

RogerDawg, I smell fear in your words.

Joe Cox

October 15th, 2009
12:39 pm

RogerDawg, thanks for the support but Josh Nesbitt terrifies me. I am worried that during the game in Atlanta this year he’s going to come across the sidelines and squeeze my purple, pimply head so hard that my Mom will start throwing interceptions.

RogerDawg

October 15th, 2009
12:40 pm

Sting’Em-

Looks like Cox shouldn’t be a starter either? You’re either a homer, or don’t know football. Joe Cox isn’t the reason UGA has stumbled a bit. Give ma break. Josh Nesbitt is just plain not a QB, ask anyone. And again, he wouldn’t see the field at Sanford Stadium in the red uniform. Yes, he appears athletic, but that doesn’t make a QB.

I guarantee 9 out of 10 football coaches around the country would jump at having Joe Cox (his arm, his field vision, his instincts, and his intangibles) over a kid that can pitch a ball and heave a ball up in the air seven times a game. Give me a break you nerds.

TampabayJacket

October 15th, 2009
12:43 pm

RogerDawg, why then did Nesbitt have a scholarship offer from UGA? Typical doggie, run off humping legs and chasing cars without thinking first.

Not Disappointed!

October 15th, 2009
12:44 pm

Rogerpup, maybe Nesbitt wouldn’t start for the Mighty Ga Dawgs, but does that say about your belove dogs that lost to Josh Nesbitt last year?

He would start or play for the pups but he won the game last year? Please enlighten us? Afterall, we are a bunch of geeks?

Not Disappointed!

October 15th, 2009
12:44 pm

typo. He wouldn’t start or play for the pups?

Good one Heath

October 15th, 2009
12:44 pm

The Carey reference was funny. Even funnier if you deliberately misspelled Carey the first time, to set up the second post.

Line drive, deep centerfield, going, going…foul ball.

TechPhi97

October 15th, 2009
12:49 pm

RogerDawg, if the tackling of your safeties last year is any indication, Josh would be starting in your defensive backfield. You must not know football if you don’t understand that a great QB for one system is not a great QB for another. Sure, Josh wouldn’t start at QB for you guys, but he would be a starter for you somewhere else.

I guess you’re not a homer though…