ATLANTA -- This is not exactly how Synjyn Days had his future planned when he enrolled at Georgia Tech.
But the senior says he wouldn’t change a thing.
Days entered school expecting to play quarterback but has wound up having his most success at B-back, basically the fullback in head coach Paul Johnson’s option attack. It took Days almost three-and-a-half seasons to find his niche and emerge as the type of productive player who was anticipated when signed out of Hillgrove.
Many young men wouldn’t have gotten this far. Told they’re going to be moved from quarterback to another position, they often balk and wind up transferring. And when they don’t play, they sometimes complain about not getting a chance.
None of that happened with Days.
He asked only two questions: Where was he going to play? What time did he need to show up?
“All the adversity helped make me the man I am today,” Days said. “If I hadn’t been through that difficulty, I wouldn’t be where I am now.”
Days was redshirted in 2010 and spent 2011 as the backup to starting quarterback Tevin Washington.
Days played in six games and recorded 435 yards of total offense. Many thought he would be able to compete with Washington for the starting job in 2012. But Vad Lee moved ahead of Days on the depth chart, and Days was moved to A-back, where he wound up playing all 14 games and rushing for 142 yards.
In 2013, Days played in all 13 games and started the final seven. He rushed for 93 yards and four touchdowns and was named the team’s offensive MVP against Alabama A&M, when he ran for a pair of touchdowns.
He started the 2014 season at A-back but seemed to be lost among the crowd. He never got more than five carries in a game, and he got a high of 25 yards against North Carolina.
That’s when Days finally got a break. Starting B-back Zach Laskey hurt his shoulder against North Carolina and was going to miss extended time. Johnson decided his best option would be to move Days back to B-back. His durability, willingness to block and knowledge of the offense made him a logical fit.
“I think he liked my running style, how I could take on tackles,” Days said. “Coach Johnson believed in me.”
Once given the opportunity to play, Days took advantage.
He carried 23 times for 110 yards against Pittsburgh, followed that with 24 carries for 147 yards against Virginia and added 19 carries for 157 yards against N.C. State, which earned him ACC Offensive Player of the Week honors. He added 89 yards against Clemson and 94 against Georgia.
“He was a running quarterback anyway,” Johnson said. “He was a guy who ran the ball a lot in high school, and the transition has been fairly easy for him.”
Days enters the Orange Bowl on Wednesday against Mississippi State with 136 carries for 753 yards and six touchdowns.
He could end up with an invitation to an NFL training camp. At 6-foot-2 and 232 pounds, he has the size and speed that make him an interesting option for professional football.
“At first we put him outside at A-back, but Synjyn’s probably about 225 or bigger,” Johnson said. “He’s physical, and for the most part, he’s kept most of his speed. Like anybody, when you get a little bigger and a little thicker, you’re probably not as fast as you were when you weighed 195. He’s a pretty good athlete.”
And he’s smart, too. Earlier this month Days was one of the Georgia Tech football players who earned a degree.
“College is difficult, but I wouldn’t change a thing,” he said. “It’s really surreal. I’m a graduate of Georgia Tech, and I enjoyed the moment.”