Georgia Tech's Synjyn Days is averaging 5.2 yards per carry this season.
Photo: Hyosub Shin
Photo: Hyosub Shin

Synjyn Days shining for Georgia Tech

Synjyn Days doesn’t seem too concerned, but said it would be nice to go out at Georgia Tech the same way he came in, with one more snap as a quarterback.

“That would definitely be fun,” he said.

Days had his first 100-yard day in any category in his four-year career in Saturday’s 56-28 win over Pittsburgh. It didn’t come at quarterback, his original position. It came with Days as B-back, his third position at Tech, where he rushed for 110 yards.

“He went out and performed in the way he could and gave the offense a lot of confidence in him,” A-back coach Lamar Owens said.

Days signed with Tech in 2010 amid a lot of hype. He ran a very similar offense to Tech’s at Hillgrove High, presumably giving him a head start in learning coach Paul Johnson’s offense.

And then a confluence of events happened that made it difficult for Days to get under center.

First, Joshua Nesbitt, who led Tech to an ACC championship in 2009, suffered a broken arm in 2010 against Virginia Tech that thrust Tevin Washington into the starting role a few games earlier than many expected.

Washington used the experience from those games to take the starter’s job and keep it through 2011 and 2012. Days played some at quarterback as Washington’s backup in 2011, posting 435 yards in offense.

Heralded prep quarterback Vad Lee signed with Tech in 2011 and, with his pedigree, became the backup in 2012 before becoming the starter in 2013. Justin Thomas signed in 2012 and became Lee’s backup for a year before earning the starting job.

Recognizing his athletic ability and wanting to get him on the field, Johnson moved Days to A-back in 2012. With his bigger body (6-foot-2, 213 pounds), Days proved a strong blocker and good enough runner to total 142 yards and average 6.2 yards per carry.

With depth at A-back, it proved hard for Days to establish himself as a regular contributor until he cracked the starting lineup for the final seven games last season. Though a starter, he rushed only 27 times for 93 yards.

“It’s frustrating, but you have to put your pride aside,” Days said. “In the triple-option offense you never know who is going to get the ball.”

The sporadic starts and carries continued this season until starting B-back Zach Laskey suffered a shoulder injury against North Carolina on Oct. 18.

Days moved into the starting B-back — a few yards closer to quarterback — against Pittsburgh where he established his career high.

One hundred yards has a special significance to running backs and wide receivers. It’s an understood barometer of production. Days came close as a freshman, rushing for 91 yards against Middle Tennessee State.

That it took Days so long into his fifth season on The Flats to hit the mark surprised him. But with his ever-present smile, Days wasn’t too bothered.

“It was definitely great excitement to know I got my first 100-yard game,” he said.

When Days realized he had surpassed 100, he went over and thanked all of the linemen, even those who hadn’t played.

Underscoring his team-first attitude, he said his best play against Pitt didn’t come on a carry. Instead, it came on a play when he blocked a safety, preventing him from catching Tony Zenon on his 57-yard touchdown run.

Days may get another crack at more blocks and to top that mark against Virginia on Saturday, with Laskey expected to miss the game. Whether he plays B-back, A-back or perhaps even quarterback, Days said he doesn’t care. He just wants to keep playing.

“Ultimately I want the team to win,” he said. “This is my last year of college football. I want us to have the best record we’ve had since I’ve been here.”

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