ATLANTA — It could have been night time, meal time or chill time for Sean Bedford, but whenever quarterback Tevin Washington came calling, he had to answer.
“He was nagging me all spring to go out and get snaps and get our timing down,” the senior center said. “Which is odd for me because I’m usually the one trying to drag people in and get told, ‘No, come on, man, I’ve got stuff to do.’ ”
A player whose own driven philosophy took him from being a walk-on defensive lineman to an All-ACC offensive lineman in less than two years, Bedford was pleasantly surprised to have someone else pushing him.
“I can’t say enough about how he’s played, how he’s come along as a leader, how he’s improved his game,” he said of Washington.
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The backup signal-caller made sure those improvements were well documented Saturday, when he rushed for three touchdowns and passed for another in a weather-halted, 27-7 White team win during Georgia Tech’s T-Day game at Bobby Dodd Stadium.
Stopped at halftime, the Yellow Jackets’ final workout of the spring season was ended when a storm front moved through downtown, causing flashes of lightning and torrential downpours to envelop the stadium just as players were sneaking back into the locker room. The inclement weather was supposed to stay in the area the rest of the day.
Mere seconds before sprinting for the exits, however, Washington squirmed through the lines for his final score as time expired; a 5-yard touchdown run.
“I was really proud of Tevin,” head coach Paul Johnson said. “He’s played well this spring. I thought he made huge strides.”
The redshirt sophomore who spent the past two seasons learning Johnson’s spread option offense finally seemed to gain a better grasp on it this spring as his role in it shifted dramatically. With starting quarterback Joshua Nesbitt out the entire month-long session recovering from ankle surgery and with former No. 2 Jaybo Shaw transferring this fall to Georgia Southern, the door opened wide for Washington to take his fair share of practice repetitions under center.
And after all of his extra work, things finally seemed to pay off. Weekly this spring, Johnson found just cause to remark about how increasingly comfortable his young quarterback appeared to be getting with the system.
A 35-yard rushing, 6-for-7 passing performance in the first half alone would seem to suggest the type of relaxed ease coaches and players want to see this time of year from their starters, let alone their backups.
“He has matured a lot from last year,” sophomore receiver Stephen Hill said of Washington. “He looks real good.”
With just nine seconds remaining in the first quarter, Washington hooked up with Hill for one of the day’s many highlights. Immediately answering the Gold team’s only score of the scrimmage, they connected on a 70-yard touchdown pass to open their fourth drive.
Hitting Hill in stride, a play-fake from Washington froze cornerback Mario Butler just long enough for his wideout to get behind the secondary and to glide toward the ball and the end zone for the easy score.
“I heard Coach (Johnson) saying, ‘Throw it’ to Tevin and he got me the ball,” Hill said. “I’m glad I didn’t have to stop and get it. He just got me the ball.”
Washington wasn’t the only quarterback to enjoy a strong outing. Fellow backup David Sims came in for two series and rushed for 34 yards before leading the gold Yellow Jackets to their lone touchdown.
While offense ruled much of the day for Georgia Tech, both teams’ defenses had their share of key stats and figures, as well. Although the defenders were unable to fulfill their top mission — creating and converting turnovers — they still had a combined five tackles for loss and broke up two pitches in the backfield.
On the White team’s second possession, true freshman Isaiah Johnson — an early enrollee who played with the first-team defense — blew up one of those plays, when he corralled A-back Roddy Jones for a 4-yard loss on a third-down pitch to the right.
According to B-back Anthony Allen, that type of head-hunting, backfield-living mentality is one that has been with the Yellow Jackets’ defense all spring. On Wednesday, after taking a hard hit from a host of defenders, Allen became a believer.
“Those boys are ready,” Allen said. “If (defensive coordinator) Coach (Al) Groh can get them like they were on that Wednesday and the way they were for the most part (Saturday), we’re going to be ready this season. I’m really excited to see them out there.”