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Georgia Tech’s Big Man on Campus

By BJ Bennett
SouthernPigskin.com
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Even before bursting onto the scene as a recognizable name, Robert Godhigh was a known commodity in and around the locker room.

Robert Godhigh came to Georgia Tech to play football without the fanfare of many of his peers. There was no hit highlight tape, no signing day special. For the diminutive speedster from Acworth, Georgia, there wasn't even a roster spot. There was simply an opportunity. At 5'7'', 188 pounds, Godhigh came to Georgia Tech with aspirations that, some deemed, overshadowed his abilities.

Like any walk-on at a major college program, Godhigh was forced to earn his keep. His true freshman season was spent redshirting, painstakingly paying his dues on the scout team. An inglorious-yet-key part of any football factory, scout teamers essentially take it on the chin each week while serving as pre-game preparation for the regulars in the rotation. It was there that the brother of three started to make an impression.  

In retrospect, Godhigh's Georgia Tech career began quite modestly. But, for a player who did not have a single college offer listed on his Scout.com recruiting profile, he was off and running. The first gameday experiences for Godhigh came two years in on special teams. Though recognized as an all-state kick returner at Harrison High School in 2008, Godhigh, this time, wasn't touching the football. He was, however, on the field for the defending ACC Champions; a definite starting point in what would prove to be a paint-by-number progression.

After continuing to get the attention of coaches through his persistence on the practice fields and effort on special teams, Godhigh was given a brief opportunity in the offensive backfield as a redshirt sophomore. He played in six games, carrying the football twice for a total of 18 yards. His first attempt came in the season-opener against FCS Western Carolina. His second carry, a 12-yard burst, came in a 66-24 romp over Kansas. Godhigh was already in the process of fulfilling a dream. Now, he was in the box score.   

After three years of waiting his turn, Godhigh received a scholarship in 2012. He then promptly, and formally, introduced himself to college football. Starting all 14 games, he rushed for 429 yards and four scores and totaled 227 yards and four touchdowns receiving for an offense that averaged over 33 points per game. From the get-go, Godhigh's junior season proved to be a banner year. He scored the opening touchdown of the season for the Yellow Jackets, a 12-yard scamper at Virginia Tech. He later paced Georgia Tech's basketball scoring effort with a third quarter flurry against North Carolina. Godhigh found the endzone three times in a span of 6:42, compiling 73 total yards in the Yellow Jackets' 68-point outburst.

Even before bursting onto the scene as a recognizable name, Godhigh was a known commodity in and around the locker room.  

"He surprised me when we came in as freshmen," remembered former A-back Orwin Smith. "A lot of people knock him because of his size but I expect big things out of him. We called him 'Monster Hampster' or something like that." 

The shortest scholarship player on the roster, 5'6'' Sam McNearney can apparently claim that overall title, Godhigh's attitude, is a big reason for his success. Position coach Lamar Owens has described his senior as a guy who "loves to see his teammates succeed". From humble beginnings, Godhigh has taken full advantage of each and every one of his chances. Recently, he was named to the Dean's List at one of the nation's most prestigious institutions.  

"The smallest one out there, but he had the most want-to out there. I think he knows now that he is really playing for more than himself, for his family. That is what I saw motivate him the most," explained former Georgia Tech A-back Embry Peeples. "In our eyes, he never was just a walk on. Also off the field, in the weight room, he could lift with the Hulk if he had to."

With Smith, the nation's leader in yards per carry in 2011, lost to graduation, Godhigh is now poised to step into that dynamic role. He is the leading returning rusher among Georgia Tech A-backs and the team's leading returning receiver overall. Only quarterbacks Tevin Washington and Vad Lee scored more total touchdowns for the Yellow Jackets than Godhigh's eight. Having the threat of that big play ability is critical towards the efficiency of Paul Johnson's triple option offense. Last season, Godhigh had ten plays of 20 plus yards. He averaged 7.94 yards per rush, 15.13 yards per reception.

Georgia Tech enters this fall right in the thick of what is expected to be a heated divisional race with Miami, North Carolina and Virginia Tech. The Yellow Jackets will look to carry over the momentum gained from their Sun Bowl triumph over Southern Cal into September and October. The Hurricanes, Tar Heels and Hokies are each scheduled among the team's first five games. As the defense transitions to Ted Roof's 4-3 scheme, the pressure will be on Lee, Godhigh and the offense to carry the load.

Four years ago, Godhigh came to Georgia Tech minus the comfort of a guarantee. Today he stands, even if a little shorter than others, as one of the sure things on a team with championship expectations.

"He is a guy who steps up when needed. When teams look at him and his size, I think they should think twice," added Smith, who talked with Godhigh for roughly a half-hour on Monday.   

Now a senior, the lightly-recruited prospect from "The Lake City" has a chance to finish his college career with personal bests in production and, potentially, a league title. While it appears the best for Godhigh remains yet to come, an extremely high standard has already been set. Commitment, dedication and perseverance have become his size, speed and strength. There, Godhigh measures off the charts.

BJ Bennett - B.J. Bennett is SouthernPigskin.com's founder and publisher. He is the co-host of "Three & Out" with Kevin Thomas and Ben Troupe on the "Southern Pigskin Radio Network". Email: bj@espncoastal.com / Twitter: @BJBennettSports