ATLANTA (Oct. 3) – Just like he pump fakes cornerbacks or dodges tacklers on the run, Georgia Tech quarterback Joe Hamilton deflects the considerable attention that has been heaped upon him.
With every record he breaks and every Sportscenter highlight he makes, Tech’s Heisman Trophy candidate is quick to credit those around him who help make it happen. “My teammates know that I’m here to win as a team and I’m here to do anything that needs to be done to win a big ball game, to win any ball game,” says the senior from Alvin, S.C.
Hamilton, the nation’s leading passer, will try to lead the Yellow Jackets (3-1, 1-1 ACC) to their 14th victory in the last 16 games as seventh-ranked Tech hosts North Carolina (1-3, 0-3 ACC) in Saturday’s Homecoming game at Bobby Dodd Stadium/Grant Field (3:30 p.m., ABC-TV).
“It’s a team award,” says Hamilton of the “H” word that is being associated with his name. “I think the team understands that I’ve been put in position to be recognized for this great award, but they also understand that if I were to win it, it’s going to be because of them.
“Everything that comes is between us; it’s all about us as a team and how we do and how we’re going to do.” Whether it’s the guys protecting him up front, or the ones on the receiving end of his 6,896 career passing yards, Hamilton knows that he is not alone.
“The offensive linemen are the unsung heroes,” says Hamilton of his bodyguards: tackles Jon Carman and Chris Brown, guards Jason Burks, Brent Key and Bill Madigan, and center Noah King. “Those guys don’t get the credit and they don’t get in the newspaper, but for us to be moving the ball the way we have, you know they are doing a great job upfront.”
Hamilton also recognizes the role of quarterbacks coach and offensive guru Ralph Friedgen. “Coach Friedgen and all our coaches work really hard so that when you step on the field, you know you are prepared for anything the defense can give,” says Hamilton. “Coach Friedgen does a good job of utilizing everybody’s talents, not just mine, but Dez White’s and all our receivers and running backs. He uses everybody’s talents and puts them in position to make plays.”
Hamilton has completed 72 percent of his passes for 1,074 yards and 10 touchdowns while rushing for 244 yards and five scores. Run or pass, he is happy to run any play in Friedgen’s considerable arsenal. “I love sitting in the pocket and delivering the ball, I love rolling out, I love running option,” he explains. “I just love getting first downs and touchdowns.
“We have the mentality that every time we touch the ball, we’re going to get in the end zone. Whatever approach I can take, or whatever I can do to make that come true, I’m going to do it.”
Getting a touchdown, via land or air, is something Hamilton has done 63 times in his career. In ACC history, only former Tech signal caller Shawn Jones (70) and Virginia’s Shawn Moore (83) have accounted for more touchdowns than Hamilton.
Hamilton has thrown just two interceptions this season, something else he credits to his coach. “You don’t want to have to come to the sidelines after you throw an interception and face Coach Friedgen,” laughs Hamilton.
“It’s fun right now, but you just have to work hard every day at practice and do the things that brought you this far.”
“I can’t imagine a better college football player than Joe Hamilton.”
-Maryland Head Coach Ron Vanderlinden
“You want to talk Heisman? You’ve got to talk about Joe Hamilton. He had another great performance Thursday night on national TV. He’s Doug Flutie-like. That kid’s got everything going for him.”
-Boston Globe’s Bob Ryan on ESPN Sports Reporters
“I like Joe Hamilton right now. He hasn’t had a bad game this year. Georgia Tech lost one game, but the one game the Yellow Jackets lost against Florida State, he was great. I really like Joe Hamilton . . . If I were to list the Heisman Trophy candidates in order right now, it’s probably: 1A-Joe Hamilton; 1B-Peter Warrick; 3-Ron Dayne; 4-Drew Brees.”
-ABC’s John Saunders
“If I was an NFL team, I’d take him any day of the week. He’s a flat-out winner with character and great athleticism.”
-CNN’s Trev Alberts
Leads the nation in passing efficiency at 202.4, well ahead of second place Ben Leard of Auburn (175.7).
Completed 72 percent of his passes with 10 touchdowns and just two interceptions.
Tech’s second-leading rusher with 244 yards (4.5-yard average) and five touchdowns.
Fourth in the nation in total offense (329.5 yards per game).
Directs an offense that leads the nation in scoring (43.5 ppg) and total offense (517.3 ypg).
Career pass efficiency rating of 144.18 is the second-best mark ever by an ACC quarterback.