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Godsey sheds image of inexperienced QB

Published Sep. 27, 2005

With Joe Hamilton gone, Georgia Tech looks to ex-Tampa Jesuit star to lead the offense.

As he trotted back onto the field Saturday night, George Godsey knew the moment he long had waited for was at hand.

The game, perhaps the tenor of the season, was in his hands.

"I got put in there to make a big play," he said.

Georgia Tech, trailing Central Florida 17-7 with less than five minutes left, faced third and 18 from its 35. But Godsey, the former Tampa Jesuit star quarterback, had looked like the first-time starter he was to that point and nothing at all like the next Joe Hamilton.

You were really waiting for this?

You bet.

Godsey, a redshirt junior not known for the elusiveness that made Heisman Trophy runner-up and Bucs rookie Hamilton so dangerous, calmly evaded pressure and hit senior receiver Jon Muyres for a 27-yard gain to resuscitate the Yellow Jackets' hopes.

"That," Godsey said, "was the turning point of the game."

By George, he was right.

After a UCF penalty, Godsey found junior receiver Kelly Campbell for a 23-yard touchdown. A few minutes later, he had completed 5 of 7 passes for 42 yards, including a 1-yard touchdown to tight end Brian Lee, for a dramatic win.

"Everything I saw from him in the last few minutes is exactly what I saw all summer and all during my sophomore year at Jesuit," sophomore receiver Will Glover said. "Goose (Godsey) is a great leader. We knew he could do it. It was nothing new to us. He just stepped up to the plate."

Godsey, 21, has had precious few chances to show what he could do at the collegiate level, at least in pressure-packed situations. And when he did, he displayed his inexperience.

Case in point: two years ago against the visiting Seminoles. With Tech down 10-7 late in the third quarter, Hamilton had his team on the move but suffered a hip pointer. Enter Godsey. Just what he was waiting for, right? Not exactly.

He handed off to Phillip Rogers, who fumbled. FSU recovered and scored a touchdown seven plays later. The Seminoles added 17 more points, seven after Roland Seymour leveled Godsey and forced a fumble, for a 34-7 win.

"My first few plays really weren't as bad (as people thought)," he said. "I don't think I made mistakes mentally, but as the game went on, I botched a few plays. That's helped me. Any mistake you make, you have to learn from."

More and more comfortable with the realization he would not wrest the starting job from Hamilton, Godsey spent the next 1{ seasons trying to learn from his elder.

"We had a good relationship," Hamilton said. "He stayed upbeat, and sometimes that's hard for a backup. He helped me out a couple of times and he knew his responsibilities at all times."

The two have had little opportunity to talk lately, but Godsey repeats some of Hamilton's advice:

"He's told me, "Calm down. Let the game come to you. You can't win every game by yourself,' " Godsey said.

"He's smart," Hamilton said. "He's not going to beat his team. He's going to make great decisions. He'll help the offense move. The greatest thing about George Godsey is he'll let the other 10 guys make plays."

In other words, he wouldn't try to duplicate Hamilton's brilliance.

But then, who could? Who else could shred FSU's historically staunch defense for 387 yards on 22-for-25 passing and four touchdowns and add a rushing touchdown in last year's 41-35 loss?

"Nobody," Tech coach George O'Leary said. "I don't care what college you're at, he was that good of a football player."

Godsey would get the first chance, but O'Leary decided to use redshirt freshman Andy Hall, too. That way, Tech could give game-experience to both and perhaps keep defenses off-balance. Hall is a better runner and more of a threat when Tech goes to the option. But Godsey, at 6 feet 2, 209 pounds, did have an 11-yard run against UCF.

That caught FSU coach Bobby Bowden's attention.

"He's better than I realized," Bowden said. "He's a very good runner. He reminds you of (FSU backup Marcus) Outzen in a lot of ways. You'd say their styles were very comparable and he just got better and better with his throwing. He made some big plays to bail them out."

Before those two late possessions, Godsey had hit just 12 of 22 passes for 97 yards and one touchdown. His heroics, however, haven't changed O'Leary's plan for a two-headed quarterback attack. O'Leary will wait for Godsey or Hall to earn the spot.

"But I told him after the game that the last five minutes were as well done as any quarterback we've had here," O'Leary said. "Now, he has to continue that."