The Jacket whom Paul Johnson said is ‘the epitome of a team player’

Four days a week last year, Adam Gotsis rose before dawn to hit the Georgia Tech weight room, cramming in extra lifting sessions that generated the strength and explosiveness that helped him become a second-round pick in April. It reflects Gotsis’ determination to be his best for the Yellow Jackets and to pave his unlikely route to the NFL.

Gotsis made the drive from his apartment complex every morning with his buddy Michael Muns, a walk-on center. Then a junior, Muns had little shot at playing time at Tech, let alone the NFL. Nevertheless, Muns faithfully showed up, pushing Gotsis and himself to reach their best. Gotsis, now with the Denver Broncos, will be forever grateful.

“That’s what really stood out to me about him, was, for him, he didn’t care that he wasn’t out there every play,” Gotsis said this week. “His whole thing was, what can he do to help the team win?”

To Tech fans, Muns might be the most anonymous Jacket who will be honored Saturday on Senior Day at Bobby Dodd Stadium when the Jackets play Virginia. Not so to his teammates and coaches.

“Michael’s the epitome of a team player,” said coach Paul Johnson, who awarded a scholarship to Muns this preseason for his final semester.

Such is the respect for Muns, who has played in only two games in his entire career, that several teammates included him on their ballots for team captain, Johnson said. Muns has risen to No. 3 center and a spot on the travel squad. He has yet to play in a game this season, though. Muns, from Swainsboro, has tried to look beyond the validation of playing time.

“Even if it’s not what you wanted for yourself, you find ways to impact others around you and pick them up,” he said. “That’s sort of the mindset that I had initially and the same one that I’ve maintained.”

Over the offseason, guard Shamire Devine was trying to lose weight, a battle he has waged since the start of his Tech career. On Sundays, Muns and Devine met to do extra conditioning work to try to get the pounds off. Muns had no personal incentive beyond helping his friend and, in the process, the team.

Offensive-line coach Mike Sewak described him as a rah-rah guy who will play any position asked. Offensive tackle Andrew Marshall, a good friend and fishing companion of Muns’, called him “absolutely a freak” in the weight room. Muns can bench press 490 pounds and has power cleaned 350.

“(The weight room) is a good place to really push people past what they think they can do and really be a leader in there,” Muns said.

Even after Gotsis tore his ACL late last season, the two showed up to lift the following Monday, part of a group that also included walk-on A-back Austin McClellan. Gotsis and Muns have become close friends; the two still communicate daily.

“It really helped me get strong,” Gotsis said. “It was a good time. You have fun in there when you work out with one of your mates.”

Muns has approached his schoolwork with the same determination. Muns actually started at Tech planning to major in history in the liberal arts college before switching to civil engineering after his freshman year. Writing papers wasn’t for him, he said, and he wanted to push himself.

“I want a challenge, a constant challenge,” Muns said, “and there’s always, when you reach one goal, so to (speak), you’ve got to find something else that’s going to take you higher, that’s going to make you an even better person.”

Muns won over Laurence Jacobs, an associate dean in the engineering college who taught Muns in Mechanics of Deformable Bodies, a class that teaches students to apply their knowledge of science, math and engineering to solve problems related to the stress and strain placed on beams, vessels and pipes.

Muns struggled in the class, Jacobs said, but never complained. He recalled that Muns never missed the 8 a.m. class and came to his office for extra help.

“He was always prepared,” he said. “‘Yes, sir, no, sir,’ no attitude. Just very refreshing.”

Muns did better and better as the semester went along, never giving in and finally earning a B.

Said Jacobs, “He’s the kind that makes teaching at Georgia Tech fun. And I really mean that. A really good kid.”

Despite the year-round demands of football, Muns holds a 2.8 GPA, a tick above the average for engineering students. And the rather remarkable part — he wants to be a college football coach. Engineering is merely his backup plan. He said coaching is something he has wanted to do his entire life, a way to be a positive influence.

“You spend so much time around young people and really lead them in the right direction,” Muns said. “It’s a great pathway for that.”

As his career winds down, it would seem he’s already well on his way.