Sept. 4, 2009
by Matt Winkeljohn, Managing Editor
OSR Sting EXTRA
ATLANTA – If you haven’t seen Josh Nesbitt up close and personal, and chances are you haven’t, you’ve missed something. Actually, you’d have to get pretty close to see it.
“He’s become more of a leader, talking in the huddle a lot, talking in meetings,” Georgia Tech wide receiver Demaryius Thomas said of the Yellow Jackets’ quarterback. “He laughs more.”
Nesbitt has not become Jimmy Kimmel overnight; he’s no orator or comedian. Thomas, his roommate, said he still spends a lot of time in his room.
But the quarterback seems more comfortable in his skin. The junior from Greensboro (Ga.) remains baseline quiet, but when he stands in front of a TV camera now, he’s no longer nearly mum and more likely to plow through an interview with confidence.
This is translating to his football, too, which can only be good.
“I think that his comfort level has to be so much higher,” said coach Paul Johnson. “He doesn’t second-guess himself all the time. He could do something right last year, and he still didn’t know if it was right.”
All of it, Johnson said, transfers to speed.
Nesbitt has plenty, he just didn’t always use all of it last year. Sure, he rushed for 693 yards and seven touchdowns. Imagine if he felt better about what he was doing.
There were times last fall when Nesbitt’s coach had to rein him in, water down what he asked the quarterback to do. Johnson even had to play a soothing role.
“Against Boston College, he pulled me to the side and said, ‘Calm down. You know your reads, just go about your business,” Nesbitt remembered.
Tech’s quarterback has grown in the weight room, through film study, through practice reps with and without coaching, by asking questions.
And by making a conscious effort to occasionally slip that skin. “I just felt like I needed to grow as a person, and step outside myself, not be as quiet,” he said.
All of this translates to more options for Tech’s option.
Johnson said the Jackets haven’t exactly packed the playbook full of new stuff, but he said Nesbitt’s growth, and that of others, affords opportunities that weren’t there before.
“I think more than putting in a lot of new stuff, we have the ability to tweak what we do and hopefully the kids can understand and make calls to take advantage of [defensive] alignments,” Johnson said. “Last year, they were just rote. There were rules, and no deviation. A lot of times, they didn’t even know the rules.
“I think he’ll play faster, and for the first time I think he’s healthy. He played the last six games last year on one wheel.”
Nesbitt’s more than a quarterback now. He’s becoming a leader, frequently consulting former Tech defensive tackle Darryl Richard, who is trying to make the Patriots’ roster.
“I think he was the best leader you could ask for,” the quarterback said. “He would tell you want you needed to do good or bad, even if he had to get in your face. He says to just break it down, get to business. We still talk once in a while.
“Just by being a leader, and showing your poise, being calm at all times, never panicking, you’re showing everybody that in any situation you can be in control.”