Joshua Nesbitt: The Runner

Georgia Tech quarterback Joshua Nesbitt is not what he describes as a “normal quarterback.”

You know, a drop-back passer, somebody who lines up in the shotgun and “everything else” those other so-called “normal” quarterbacks do.

No, Nesbitt is a runner.

At 6-foot-1, 218 pounds, he’s built like a F-150. He takes hit after hit and keeps on rumbling in coach Paul Johnson’s run-based spread option offense. Nesbitt, a senior, carried the ball 279 times last year. He enters this fall with 2,069 career rushing yards and needs 692 more to break the ACC career record for rushing yards by a quarterback, which is currently held by Clemson’s Woodrow Dantzler (2,761).

As Nesbitt enters his final season, he does so with the best grasp of the offense he has had since taking over the position three years ago. Although the Jackets lost their leading rusher and receiver from last year’s ACC championship team, they retained the heart of their offense.

“Last year he ran the ball a lot more than the year before, partially because he knows that teams were trying to take away Jonathan (Dwyer), and they were trying to take away the pitches because of the home run threat,” said A-back Roddy Jones. “He had to put the team on his back a couple of times, and just run it down teams’ throats and he was willing to do that.”

Despite Nesbitt’s invaluable status, he’s not high on the list of potential Heisman candidates. Part of that can be attributed to the fact he’s the leader of the nation’s 116th best passing offense. Then again, Georgia Tech only threw the ball 168 times last year. Only Air Force, Army and Navy threw it fewer times.

“In a way I am (at a disadvantage), but I don’t sit back and wish I was in a different situation,” Nesbitt said. “God put me in this place to do something great, and I’m taking advantage of it. I feel like in a way I’m getting more attention because of the physical pounding I take and showing that every time I get hit I can bounce back up and keep going.”

He went for 103 yards and a touchdown against Clemson in the ACC championship game. His three rushing touchdowns against Florida State were the most the Seminoles had allowed since 1997. And his fourth-down conversion and game-winning touchdown in overtime against Wake Forest helped advance the program to its first ACC title since 1990.

It wasn’t until the beginning of last year, Nesbitt said, that he began to play without thinking as much.

“It was very difficult,” he said of learning the offense. “It really took me a whole year to understand what coach was trying to get me to understand. I’m very comfortable with it now.

“I used to approach practice or a game nervous, not really knowing what to do, just going out and winging it, really,” he said. “Now I really understand what coach wants and what he sees.”

What Johnson sees is Nesbitt getting better.

“Every time you get a year older you get physically more mature and stronger,” Johnson said. “I think he’s become a good leader for us.”

Sounds like the very definition of any other “normal” quarterback.