ATLANTA — Georgia Tech senior linebacker Sedric Griffin doesn’t come across as an aggressive person off the football field.
He answered questions from the media with an innocent look in his eyes and a bit of remorse in his voice after Saturday’s T-Day spring football game at Bobby Dodd Stadium.
Still, don’t step in the path of this 5-foot-11 230-pound defender on the field. Griffin led the Gold team, made up of the first team defense and second team offense, with vicious hit after vicious hit on T-Day. The Gold defeated the White 31-28.
"I call him the assassin," Yellow Jackets defensive end Robert Hall said of Griffin, with a laugh.
Griffin was the headline player for Georgia Tech because of the way he pursued the football.
He finished the day with six tackles, two sacks, and a fumble recovery. The fumble recovery came on the first play against the first team offense, which was wearing white and was led by sophomore quarterback and Flowery Branch High graduate Jaybo Shaw.
Yellow Jackets starting quarterback Josh Nesbitt was sidelined with a shoulder injury that occurred during an April 11 team scrimmage.
All day, Griffin took full advantage of getting to unload on the quarterback, running back or anyone else that was standing in his way. Yellow Jackets junior linebacker Brad Jefferson just chuckled when he heard the now public nickname for his fellow linebacker which he said fit well.
"We talk about it all the time that Sedric is the assassinator," Jefferson said. "It doesn’t matter if you’re on his team or the other team, you better watch out if you get in his way, because he’ll hit you."
Still with all the praise for his performance in the spring game, Griffin was quick to show his introverted nature.
"I just want to apologize to Jaybo for hitting him like that," Tech’s linebacker said. "I just really want to come out this season and play hard every game and show we’re here for the long haul."
For Griffin, this season is more a mission of playing with more passion at linebacker, which he said was often lacking in 2008.
The defense was all over the field getting to both offenses during T-Day, leading to 10 fumbles. That’s just one less than last season when Yellow Jackets coach Paul Johnson has just started the process of implementing his spread-option offense.
"I think we made too many mistakes today," Johnson said. "But we’re still night and day better on offense than we were this time last year.
"You never know how you really stand until you get to play someone else."
One reason for the Yellow Jackets’ flawed execution is a depleted offensive line. Georgia Tech only had six scholarship players available for spring practice. Offensive tackle Nick Claytor, a Gainesville High grad, missed the spring game after having back surgery.
On Saturday, the first team offense was working with a pair of walk-ons. The Gold offense was comprised of all freshmen.
Shaw led the first team offense and finished 12 of 20 passing for 198 yards. His favorite target was Demaryius Thomas, who had four catches for 55 yards on the day.
The Flowery Branch High grad scored on three short rushing touchdowns for the white team, but he also fumbled the football four times.
Gold quarterback Tevin Washington was a little more effective holding onto the ball and was 7 of 10 passing for 167 yards.
Embry Peeples had the longest catch from Washington (63 yards) and also scored on a 60-yard run.
With such a mixed bag of results from the quarterbacks and too many starters missing or limited in playing time, Johnson didn’t want to evaluate the quarterback play simply based on what he saw from standing on the field during T-Day.
"Jaybo did a nice job running the huddle, but so did Tevin," Johnson said. "I just wouldn’t read too much into this game."
Other notable performances in T-Day were: A-back Anthony Allen (7 carries, 75 yards), B-back Richard Watson (11 carries, 53 yards), Preston Lyons (9 carries, 33 yards). Yellow Jackets starting running back Jonathan Dwyer four carries for 47 yards, and A-back Roddy Jones had three catches for 72 yards.
Georgia Tech opens the season against Jacksonville State on Sept. 5 in Atlanta.