Ah, it is officially reporting week. Now is the time players and coaches at colleges across the country come back to their universities to begin preparations for their newest and latest football season. All are filed with wide-eyed hopes and dreams of making the trek to Glendale, Ariz., site of the 2011 BCS national championship game. As it stands right now, any team could find itself there, as games have not been played and records not set. Yes, it is THE time of the year for the die-hard college fan. It is the time of the year in which they believe deeply that their team has the weapons and talent to go to a major bowl, or perhaps stun the world and win it all.
But it is also that time of year in which everyone — from fans to analysts to columnists to bloggers — believes they hold the singular crystal ball that will show the fate of the college football landscape for the upcoming season. In the coming weeks, preseason polls will start streaming out. The heralded AP Top 25 Poll will be released Aug. 21. The national gurus and insiders for groups like ESPN, Sports Illustrated and Sporting News will begin, in earnest, their banter debating whose teams should and shouldn’t belong where by the time the postseason begins.
One of those analysts who those around the sport will become very acquainted with in the coming weeks is ESPN’s Mark May. A college standout at Pitt, and a former NFL player, himself, May knows a thing or two about this game.
Last Tuesday, May and several of his ESPN cohorts, including former head coach Lee Corso, joined college coaches from the state of Georgia at the annual Atlanta Sports Council Luncheon at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis. Coming just after the ACC Kickoff and SEC Media Days, there was very little that head coaches Paul Johnson (Georgia Tech) and Mark Richt (Georgia), in particular, had said to attending media that they hadn’t been asked about in recent weeks.
Mark May shared his thoughts on Georgia Tech quarterback Joshua Nesbitt last week from the Atlanta Sports Council's Kickoff Luncheon. Photo Credit: bcanva.com
Before the event, May was kind enough to pause for a few questions from reporters, and gave an indication as to what his thinking was about the ACC and SEC this season, Georgia Tech and Tech’s often overlooked quarterback Joshua Nesbitt. Who’s his early pick to win the ACC? You’ll have to read to find out. Enjoy!
(Quick sidebar, one reporter asked May how he got into broadcasting from playing in the NFL, and it’s a really inspiring story; a lot of hard work, folks. When you see these guys — especially former players — just pop up on TV, it may seem like it just happened overnight for them. It may look easy to get there, but it’s not. He did the internships and, like most of us, got a few big breaks for just being in the right place at the right time.)
What is it about Joshua Nesbitt that it seems a lot of pundits, analysts and opposing teams overlook? For many, it seems tough to put a finger on whether he’s a good quarterback or not?
It’s because he can run the option to perfection and he’s been under Paul’s offense for this long. And he’s physical enough and he’s smart enough and savvy enough. Plus, he’s actually got an arm. He’s not going to complete 80 percent of his passes, but he’s going to make those big pass plays. It was proven last year that a lot of the recruiters were saying about Georgia Tech, ‘Well, you can’t go there as a receiver.’ Well, look what happened last year. Yes, you can go there. And Josh Nesbitt is just tough to tackle. He’s really slippery, he’s smart with the football and he makes great reads with the football. He’s got a good enough arm. And I think the more he matures — and this year is his last year — obviously, he’s one of those eight or nine quarterbacks in the ACC and the ACC this year is a quarterback conference.
Who are your SEC/ACC picks to win this year?
Do you have to break it down now?
You have to go with Alabama because they’re defending champions. Even though it’s tough to defend a national championship, but Alabama’s got a tremendous amount of talent. I was at their spring game. I really like North Carolina depending on what happens with both Alabama and North Carolina’s defensive players, because (Alabama’s) Marcell Dareus is probably one of the top defensive players in the country from watching him play, and Marvin Austin is huge for North Carolina at defensive end. I covered their spring game also.
I also like Virginia Tech. They’ve got two great running backs coming back (Darren Evans and Ryan Williams). Tyrod Taylor is one of the most efficient quarterbacks in the country last year. In the ACC, you’ve got great quarterbacks coming back. Clemson’s got a starting quarterback coming back, North Carolina State’s got a starting quarterback coming back, Boston College has a starting quarterback coming back. And you look at Miami with Jacory Harris and Christian Ponder at Florida State.
Former Georgia Tech offensive lineman and head coach Bill Curry was also on hand at the Luncheon. Student of Georgia Tech coaching legend Bobby Dodd, Curry is now resuscitating his own coaching career, when he leads Georgia State this fall in its first season of football competition. But as is always the case with Curry, the Institute is never far from his heart. Here’s what he said to reporters from the event:
Former Tech head coach Bill Curry leads a Georgia State program into its first year of football. It's strange for him to be practicing in the Georgia Dome and not off Ferst Street, he said. Photo Credit: opiniononsports.com
It feels weird. It feels weird to be right down the street from my alma mater and not be coaching them, but instead coaching someone else.
Of course, I pull for Georgia Tech all the time. I owe everything I’ve got to Georgia Tech. I owe my coaching career to Bobby Dodd. If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be standing before you now.