BUFORD — Before he ever strapped on his first pair of shoulder pads, Cody Getz heard that he was too small to play football.
Now look at him.
At 5-foot-7, 160 pounds, the senior running back for Class AA’s top-ranked Buford Wolves has rushed for 853 yards and 18 touchdowns, leading his team to the second round of the Class AA state playoffs and a perfect 11-0 record.
“I’ve always been the smallest one on the team and the smallest one on the field,” said Getz, who has also scored on two punt returns for touchdowns. “I’ve grown up knowing that I’ll always be the smallest one on the field.”
Knowing that, some kids would give up the sport and try their hands at one that was less size-orientated. Not Getz. Instead of giving up, he worked harder.
“I wouldn’t say that I’m the hardest worker on this team, because there are a lot of hard workers,” he said. “But I do have to work harder than say a 6-foot, 200-pound running back because I’m not blessed with the size.
“I take what God’s given me and I try and do with that as much as possible.”
Not once did he ever think about not playing football.
“I’ve never thought about being too small and letting that hold me back,” he said. “I see as me getting through what I can get through now against bigger and better people will only help me further in life.”
With that as his motivator, Getz impressed the coaching staff at Buford upon arriving at the school in the ninth grade. A football powerhouse that has produced running backs like Darius Walker, Matt Pridemore and Demetrius Murray, all of whom went on to play college football, the coaches at Buford took one look at Getz and didn’t see his lack of size, but rather the size of his abilities.
“I knew when he got here in the ninth grade that we had an explosive player,” Buford coach Jess Simpson said. “He was small, but you knew that he was wound up so tight in the hamstrings that he was going to be a special, explosive player.”
Whether it’s cutting through holes provided by his offensive line or fielding a punt from midfield and taking it to the end zone, what Getz lacks in size he more than makes up for with speed and agility. He has accounted for 1,351 total yards this year, and averages 9.86 yards every time he touches the ball.
“What sets him apart is he has the ability to stop and start, change directions and explode like nobody I’ve ever coached,” Simpson said.
Part of the reason he has that ability is because he’s out to quiet the naysayers.
“It kind of makes me play with a chip on my shoulder,” said Getz, who runs a 4.36 second 40-yard dash.
“I think about it before every game, that I get to show people that size really doesn’t matter and it’s not the size that wins state championships.”
That last part is on the forefront of Getz’s mind as Buford gets ready to play host to North Oconee on Friday in the second round of the state playoffs.
“I let my play speak for myself and not worry about my size and everything that’s going on around me,” he said. “I’m just worrying about what I can do for the team and winning state championships.”
At Buford, that’s all it’s about: winning state championships.
The program has won four state titles since 2001, and as the No. 1 team in the state and defending champions, are poised for a fifth. At the heart of those championships are strong defenses and strong running games.
“That what we pride ourselves on, the running game, and everyone knows that,” Getz said. “Everyone loads up eight in the box every week and we still run it up their guts.”
So how does a 5-7, 160-pound running back dominate eight-man fronts?
“I think I have really good vision and that helps me a lot being so small,” Getz said. “I really see myself being a 5-7, 160-pound back that’s harder to tackle that a 6-foot, 200 back because it’s hard to tackle a smaller object moving twice as fast.”
Opposing teams have noticed, and with one scholarship offer from Air Force already in his possession, college coaches are starting to take notice, as well.
“Hopefully as we keep playing more people will come out and not look at my measurables, but look at what I can do on the field,” Getz said.
Regardless of what happens in the future, the running back who is small in stature has already left a large impression on the Buford football program.
“He’s the whole package,” Simpson said. “He’s got the toughness, the heart, and the want to. He’s been a real blessing for our program.”