Nov. 12, 2013
By Matt Winkeljohn
There is plenty that you don’t know about Robbie Godhigh, like, how did he get that super-human strength and sculpt that body-by-Adonis?
“I eat candy all the time. My best friends tell me I have the worst diet they’ve ever seen and I’m still the most in-shape person they’ve ever seen,” said the Georgia Tech senior running back who can bench press 400 pounds and squat 535. “I eat the most junk food. Today, I’ve had Gummi Bears, Mike & Ike’s and a honey bun.”
As with his diet, Godhigh’s measureables don’t add up. He’s 5-foot-7.
His immeasurables? That’s an entirely different story.
He’s in the running for college football’s Burlsworth Trophy, which is given annually to the top walk-on (non-scholarship player) in the land. Godhigh and Wisconsin wide receiver Jared Abbrederis are at the top of the list.
Abbrederis is 6-2. Godhigh is not. Yet he is long on a lot of other things.
Oh, and beyond his impressive ability to tote a football around, between and occasionally through defenders, head coach Paul Johnson loves the way No. 25 is willing to get down and dirty – and block. With a few days to reflect on Tech’s 68-50 win at North Carolina last year, and film to back up his thoughts, Johnson said, “Robbie Godhigh knocked 13 players to the ground . . . he was a one-man wrecking crew.”
It wasn’t always that way.
“He hated to block in high school,” said Robert Godhigh, Robbie’s father.
Well, yes he did because young Robbie was quite the ballcarrier.
After spending the first half of his freshman season at Harrison High School in Marietta with the other ninth graders, the call came. It was late, actually, as former Harrison coach Bruce Cobleigh remembers. Watching a freshman game in 2005, and having only called one freshman up to varsity previously, the coach was not inclined to do it again.
Then, Godhigh happened.
“That’s one of my best stories . . . he just kept running touchdown after touchdown after touchdown,” Cobleigh said. “I just sat on the steps, and all I can say to myself was, ‘What am I doing? Why do I not have this guy up here [with the varsity]? Am I stupid?’ “
Cobleigh’s been around a few blocks. You coach the brothers Morris, Joe and Jamie, at Ayer High in Ayer, Mass., and you build perspective. All they did was go on to become the leading rushers in Syracuse and Michigan histories, and then play in the NFL.
And they were each 5-7.
“Those guys [the Morris bros.] were world-class 100-meter speed guys, but laterally, change of direction, I never had anybody like Robbie. He has the greatest lateral quickness that I ever coached,” Cobleigh said.
“And next to Joe Morris, I never had anybody that strong . . . linemen included. Well, Jon Abbate [who played linebacker at Wake Forest] was ahead of him, but Robbie was so strong.”
All that strength and skill didn’t fetch Godhigh a college scholarship.
He was barely recruited in spite of a solid high school career that was impacted by the quality of his teammates. Several went on to play Division I sports or pro baseball so the carries were spread around.
And then, there was the heighth factor.
“His high school coach told him he could be a 5-star back if he was three inches taller,” Godhigh’s father said. “He didn’t say that in a bad way, but . . . the DI schools were hesitant on taking a chance.”
The net result was: “I only really got a scholarship offer, from Wofford,” Godhigh said. “Since I wasn’t getting any looks from the BCS schools, I was going to settle . . . I had accepted a scholarship to Wofford.”
Shortly before the time came to sign his name to a letter-of-intent to attend the small school in South Carolina, however, former Georgia Tech assistant coach Brian Bohannon called. He had an offer: come be a preferred walk-on on the Flats.
Robert and Jeri Godhigh had mixed feelings.
Their son had a bird in hand, and they were not entirely comfortable with him looking at a flock in a bush and opting for an opportunity without guarantee.
“We’re a really close family, and . . . we thought about it,” Robert said. “I said, ‘Jeri, we’re going to have to pay.’ And she said, if that’s what he wants to do, we’re going to have to pay.”
And they did. Robbie redshirted in 2009, played sparingly on special teams in 2010 and in ’11. But he was impressing coaches more than he knew.
“Third year, he started to get in on special teams and as a blocking back,” Papa said. “The coaches said, ‘Hey, this kid can block.’ I said, ‘Robbie, that may be your ticket.’ “
It was. Before the ’12 season, the Godhighs’ phone rang. Robert remembers it well: “Coach Paul Johnson called, and we were like kids in a toy store when he said he was going to give Robbie a scholarship.”
Robbie – officially, his name is listed as Robert on the roster — started all 14 games in 2012, and has been a starter at A-back this season as well. Turns out, he was impressing coaches more than he knew.
His heighth is unchangeable. That may be something that NFL scouts don’t like, but he is comfortable with his vertical data.
Godhigh wants to follow his father into law enforcement anyway. He’s got a head start. He’s already pretty good at going unnoticed.
“I don’t really see any downside to [heighth],” he said. “Being behind linemen or other teammates, you can hide behind them. I will graduate in December with a degree in Business Management.
“I want to be an agent, and be undercover, going out out and getting bad guys. It can be any of the branches, DEA, CIA, FBI, Homeland Security. They’re all interesting to me.”