Seeing No. 9 walking out of the tunnel into Bobby Dodd Stadium at Historic Grant Field, you have little doubt the young man before you is an impact college football player.
His silhouette reads linebacker, the gait suggests he's safety, but his focused eyes and calm demeanor give away his real position—quarterback.
A true throwback of sorts, Joshua Nesbitt, as he now likes his name to be written, is one of the best QBs in the nation.
Regardless of the pundits praise for ACC gunslingers like Ponder, Harris, or Parker, Mr. Nesbitt continues to do what few thought was possible—put Georgia Tech back on the map one grinding down at a time.
The 2009 All-ACC First Team QB, Joshua lead his Yellow Jackets to an ACC title in just his second year running Coach Paul Johnson's spread (flex-bone) option offense.
A player originally recruited by Coach Johnson's predecessor, Chan Gailey, Nesibitt was recruited to be a pocket QB, running a pro-style offensive system.
In a leap of faith moment, Joshua stayed on at Tech with Coach Johnson. That decision gave him a chance to run what, in hindsight, might be a system that is a perfect fit No. 9's skill set.
In 2008, his first year as the starting QB, Nesbitt was immersed in learning the nuances of Paul Johnson's triple option based offense. A steep learning curve to endure as true sophomore, Joshua was thrust into games head on with a dive, a pitch, and a prayer.
Despite predictions of a long season filled with offensive struggles, Joshua led the Jackets to a nine win regular season, concluding with an epic 45-42 rain soaked victory against their arch rival UGA, in Athens.
In 2009, Joshua led all QBs in the conference and was fourth in the nation rushing for 1,037 yards. With 18 rushing touchdowns, he was second in the nation for QBs falling only behind Navy’s Ricky Dobbs (27 TDs) who just so happens to run the same style offense as Nesbitt.
As a passer, Josh is generally subjugated to musings of negativity—commonly being criticized for his lack of accuracy or positive passing numbers. But, when analyzed fairly, Nesbitt as a passer is not near what most people think.
148.69 passer rating.
That was Joshua's rating as a junior. Tech was 12th in the nation in passing efficiency last year. Nesbitt averaged over 10 yards a pass, added 10 touchdowns to his resume , put his No. 1 target, WR Demaryius Thomas, in position to be the top receiver taken in the NFL draft, and gave the Jackets their first outright ACC Championship in almost 20 years.
Improving in every statistical passing category from 2008 to 2009, Nesbitt proved he is capable of getting better, and there might be reason to believe that trend is not complete.
Despite losing his biggest downfield threat to the NFL, the Jacket's receiving corps is not in bad shape.
Jacket fans are excited to see what the next-in-line, young athletic freak WR, Steven Hill, is able to do.
Following in the footsteps of fellow Jacket great WRs Calvin Johnson, and Bay Bay Thomas, true sophomore Steven Hill is a tall, highly-skilled receiver, who wants the ball in his hands.
Running like a gazelle, feet barely touching the turf, Hill dazzled fans at the Spring White & Gold scrimmage game catching everything thrown his way, including a 70 yard TD pass.
With Hill as his primary target, Nesbitt will also have the opportunity to spread the love a little more.
In his third and final season leading the Jackets, the offense will be much more ingrained and rhythmic than in his first two seasons. Add a cast of receivers and "A-backs" (slot backs who can run or receive) that have now also been neck deep in Coach Johnson’s system for three years, and everyone looks to benefit on game day.
Chances are, the Jackets offensive efficiency will show another level of improvement despite what some believe to be grandiose losses of talent to the NFL in Thomas and RB Jonathan Dwyer.
Paul Johnson's trends as head coach would suggest the Jackets still have large areas for development in their offensive capabilities.
In fact, this spring, glimpses of a shotgun formation were added into the already potent blend of weapons the Ramblin’ Wreck have.
If given time, Nesbitt can be a good passer and the shotgun formation, used in situational roles, might just be the piece of the puzzle that gives him that extra needed second to complete an accurate downfield pass.
Now, it's unlikely that No. 9 will lead the nation, let alone the ACC in any passing statistic. It's also doubtful Joshua Nesbitt will get much love from the NFL as a passer next year.
It’s certain that if we define a QB solely as a passer, Nesbitt falls short.
But, thankfully, QB’s aren’t measured by just the air they put under the ball.
In that understanding chances are very good, that despite those factors, Nesbitt will put his team in position to score loads of points and win each game this fall.
No. 9 will, in the face of adversity, put the entire team on his back and literally carry the burden of fate for that final make or break yard.
Joshua Nesbitt could become the best quarterback in the nation this year.