Aug. 25, 2015
By Matt Winkeljohn
The Good Word
As old heads among Georgia Tech A-backs, Broderick Snoddy and Isiah Willis have the best nicknames and rights to counsel younger Yellow Jacket wing men.
It may not be the nature of either, “Snoop Dog,” or, “Ike,” to lecture, but they’re taking new leadership roles as likely starters and running with them.
Beyond Snoddy, a fifth-year senior with 65 career carries for 483 yards, and Willis, a fourth-year junior with four carries for 40 yards, all of Tech’s A-backs are first- or second-year players who have never rushed in college.
So, Snoddy and Willis have to step up and speak up.
“Last year, you had all the seniors to rely on. I’m taking the things they taught me over the years,” said Willis, a former walk-on whom head coach Paul Johnson last week placed on scholarship. “Snoop Dog . . . He’s been out there. He’s a play maker. When he sees stuff on the field, he tries to give little pointers.”
At just about the time Snoddy put all the pieces of his job description together last fall after switching from B-back, he broke his lower leg against Clemson.
After rushing three times for 22 yards in Tech’s first six games, he carried 23 times for 210 yards and three touchdowns over the next four and then ripped off a career-long 46-yarder against Clemson on Nov. 15. His next carry went for five yards, and ended with his injury.
“I speak up when I have to speak up,” he said. “I try to lead by example.”
Johnson and A-backs coach Lamar Owens have a young group on the flanks.
Redshirt freshman Qua Searcy has moved from wide receiver, and beyond him, Snoddy, Willis [and] true freshmen are likely to play on the wings.
Johnson cited TaQuon Marshall as a candidate, and said, “Mikell [Lands-Davis] has a chance to play, too.” Freshman Marcus Marshall and redshirt freshmen Matthew Jordan – a former quarterback – and Clinton Lynch are also in the mix.
“They’re rolling in there, about five or six of them in practice,” Johnson said. “I don’t know if there will be that many in a game.”
Snoddy’s growing into his expanded role, and rebuilding confidence in his legs at the same time. The blocking ability of Tech’s A-backs and wide receivers is critical to the Jackets’ perimeter running attack, and a significant factor in playing time.
“I’m making progress each day. I can tell I have more and more confidence. I’m not really thinking about [the injury],” he explained. “I could say that whenever I get a chance to block . . . I’m getting better and better.”
Willis is on it as well.
“I feel like I’m a lot more confident whether it’s blocking or the whole offense; I have a grasp on the whole offense,” he said. “Coach Johnson always stresses if you get on the field, you need to be able to block. I know that’s a role.”