April 2, 2011
By Matt Winkeljohn
David Sims came to Georgia Tech to play quarterback, choosing to play on The Flats in large measure because head coach Paul Johnson was one of the few college coaches willing to give him a shot at the position.
Johnson’s recruiting nuance may have been the only way Sims would end up at Tech.
He was ranked higher by some recruiting services as an “athlete” than as a quarterback, so Sims has known all along he might end up plying his wares elsewhere (position-wise).
Now that he’s moving down that track, he seems OK with it. Sims doesn’t jump for joy talking about transitioning to B-back, but he sure isn’t despondent, either.
Anyone with a little football savvy who’s seen Sims run the ball, either in limited action last season as a redshirt freshman or in scrimmages last spring and summer, could see this: he runs heavy. And you’ve got to like what you’ve seen.
Listed at 6-feet, 213 pounds, Sims runs more like he weighs about 225. He squares up and delivers a blow, as coaches like to say, and does not shrink in the millisecond prior to contact but rather load up and explode into it.
All of this appears instinctual.
So the move behind quarterback isn’t a big change in some ways.
“As a quarterback you’re basically running the edges and not as much in the trenches,” he said. “You have to run, though, behind your pads so you’re not going to take shots [at either position].”
Growing up in smallish St. Matthews, S.C., just north of Orangeburg, Sims was for years a standout athlete. He was not always a quarterback. In sixth and seventh grade, he played mostly wide receiver on offense, and then running back in eighth grade.
Then, he got the star athlete treatment and was moved to quarterback. That may not have been his best position. He had five interceptions as a senior defending, and strikes at least one observer as a guy who would track the ball like a heat-seeking missile if he were on the other side of it.
“Safety, linebacker, corner, I pretty much played wherever [on defense],” he said. “Most of my [college scholarship] offers came from playing defensive back, some from running back, and here from quarterback. I miss [defense] sometimes, but I’m just trying to do what I can do to help.”
In limited viewings of Sims, I can see what he just said there.
He wants more to be in the mix than he does to be a quarterback.
Given that he’s not as polished throwing the football as he is running with it, and that the Jackets have some pending options at QB who are at least as credible chucking it, Johnson thought a move might be in order.
This is not a move to take Sims away from the quarterback position as much as it is to maximize his potential value to the Jackets.
He’s cozy with that, remembering clearly the first broach of the possibility.
“It was the second or third [Independence] Bowl practice. I was going to hold for PATs and field goals, and [Johnson] told me we needed to talk,” Sims said. “He [later] proposed it, and . . . I just want to play.
“I thought Tevin [Washington] was doing a pretty good job at quarterback, and I knew that we’re going to probably try to work Synjyn [Days] in. I just wanted to do whatever I could do to contribute.”
The Jackets will add vaunted freshman quarterback Vad Lee this summer.
One need not have a long memory of Tech football to think of other quarterbacks who ended up making their marks on The Flats at other positions. Damarius Bilbo and especially Derrick Steagall come first to mind. Sims is not the only significant position change under current scrutiny: former B-back Daniel Drummond has in just two full-pads practices made impressions at linebacker.
It doesn’t require a lot of thought to come up with other former quarterbacks who might well have made a greater impact at Tech had they changed positions.
Impact – that’s a good word here. Sims wants to make one. He’s being given that chance in spades, and while he will miss his old position if he transitions permanently away from it, he’d more miss not being on the field when it matters.
“I think the only big difference is at quarterback you actually get to control the game more,” Sims said. “You have to make the reads [in the run game], and if it’s a pass you get to choose where to throw. I’ll miss it some.
“As of right now, I don’t have a preference. I’m just trying to learn as much as I can to contribute.”
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