April 16, 2010
By Matt Winklejohn
OK, there’s this business about Georgia Tech’s quarterback modifying his name, not that it’s a big deal to refer to Mr. Nesbitt as Joshua rather than Josh — even if we’ve all become comfortable with the latter. It must be addressed, though, because No. 9 is a big deal around here.
This is not like Lew Alcindor becoming Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, or Bobby Moore becoming Ahmad Rashad, or George Herman Ruth going with Babe, or Lloyd Bernard Free becoming World B. Free, or Chad Johnson becoming Chad Ochocinco. It’s not even Joey Belle transitioning to Albert (ding-a-ling) Belle, or Vince Jackson being known as Bo, or Brian Williams opting for Dison Bele, or Cassius Clay converting to (you know this one, right?), or even Rod Smart choosing to put “He Hate Me” on the back of his XFL jersey.
(Rest in peace, XFL, and send your favorite name changes to firstname.lastname@example.org.)
This is about… well, it’s hard to say.
Nesbitt, who said that his teammates at Tech call him that very word (his last name), was offered the chance to say that his mother and/or family preferred that he go by that name because rumor had it that’s what they’ve always called him, and it’s the primary reason he’s re-writing record books without playing. Or writing, actually.
He skipped that invitation. “I was talking with my family, and I told my mom to just start calling me Joshua.” Nesbitt said, “I’m more comfortable with it.”
This came as news to teammate and wide receiver Stephen Hill. “I just call him, `The Man,’ because when you’re that big, and you run like that… he runs like a fullback and he throws hard, you’re just `The man,’ ” Hill reports.
Enough of that. There are, after all, more important changes taking place at Tech, even if Nesbitt is idling during spring practice after ankle surgery, wearing one of those impossible-to-miss-but-you-better-not-touch-me red jerseys.
What about that new-look offense? You know, the one where the quarterbacks (other than Nesbitt) are dropping back before the snap in order to take the snap having already dropped most of the way?
Blasphemers! Hasn’t Head Coach Paul Johnson said that he doesn’t believe in the shotgun?
As ardent Tech fans might know, Mr. Nesbitt figures to be quite comfy in the `gun as he played it in high school, oh, a ton. “I would say 90 percent of the time,” he confirmed.
So, let’s theorize: You set a slew of school records, light up the league, terrorize defenders like no quarterback in recent memory, lead your team to the ACC championship and practically re-invent the position — or at least cast a gilded template on how to play quarterback in Paul Johnson’s offense — and . . . perhaps you’ve earned a favor or two.
“After the season, when we got back and we were in school, I had a meeting with [Johnson] and I suggested that we do a little shotgun,” Mr. Nesbitt said. “He said we were going to do it in the spring.”
That’s what the Yellow Jackets have been doing, even without the former Greene County High star.
He’s mending, you see. A problem ankle, whose persnicketiness pre-dates Nesbitt’s time on The Flats, has been surgically addressed. He had some junk cleaned out, and some stability put in.
“They tightened my joint up. I can’t think of the name [of the procedure],” he said. “My joints are so loose I’d be out on the field running and my ankle could roll at any time. They brought my joints together, and put a screw in there.”
Without knowing for sure, lacking the time to double check, and being mindful of the fact that members of the medical staff are often – but not necessarily always — leery to offer specifics on surgical procedures, I’d venture to say that Nesbitt had a Broström procedure on that ankle. Simply put, and it’s not overly simple, this involves a re-attachment of ligament tissues to bone.
There are variations on the procedure.
Bottom line, although Nesbitt said the only time the ankle bothered him last season was after that lad from Georgia wrenched it in the game against the Bulldogs (causing Nesbitt to miss roughly a quarter).
He’s solid with his name now.
And with an ankle hopefully less likely to twist, Nesbitt loves – even from afar so far – the new twists in the Tech offense. Comfortable with a new (old) name, and no less cozy with the modified modus operandi, he said he’ll be 100 percent ready to roll for summer camp.
“We’re going to throw wrinkles in there,” Nesbitt said. “It would benefit everybody on offense. You [the quarterback] can see things more, you have more time to see everything.”
So will this be a pass-only part of the offense?
“We’re going to try to make plays in it,” the burgeoning diplomat said with a smile you never would have seen when he was a freshman or sophomore. “We’re trying to be more effective in our passing game.”
New name or not, Nesbitt still goes up the middle, jitter bugs some, and leaves `em guessing.