Joshua Nesbitt and Jared Tew came into their senior seasons as preseason all-conference picks. Nesbitt, the Georgia Tech quarterback, was the ACC’s preseason player of the year. Tew, Air Force’s fullback, had a fantastic junior season and was hoping to crack 1,000 yards rushing his final year.
At the end of their senior seasons, both players are just hoping to experience the Independence Bowl on the field, rather than in street clothes. Tew is recovering from a broken fibula, Nesbitt has a broken arm, and neither has been cleared to practice yet.
“He’s had a great career and you always want to see guys finish it on the field playing,” Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson said about Nesbitt at a press conference Wednesday. “He’s been a tough competitor and he’s made a lot of plays the last three years for Georgia Tech.”
Air Force’s players and coaches are hoping Tew comes back, not necessarily because of what he might do on the field after two months off, but because he deserves to end his career playing in a bowl game.
Tew broke his fibula in October. Falcons coach Troy Calhoun said last week he is still having trouble pushing off the leg, which gives him concern. He has called Tew’s return “a long shot,” though Calhoun has been overly conservative on injury return timetables for other players this year.
“It would be good to get his swan song, I’m rooting for him,” Air Force running backs coach Jemal Singleton said. “I hoping he gets that one last chance. I know it means a lot to him to come back and play. The last thing you want is to end your career that way.”
Tew’s injury status probably has less relevance on the game than Nesbitt’s availability. Realistically, after the long layoff Tew’s playing time would probably be limited, at best, with Nathan Walker. If Nesbitt can play, it has a huge impact on the Falcons’ preparation.
Nesbitt is the all-time leading rusher among ACC quarterbacks. He’d be replaced by sophomore Tevin Washington. Washington hasn’t played poorly in his three starts replacing Nesbitt, but Georgia Tech is 1-2 in those games.
Neither team will risk playing Tew or Nesbitt in a ceremonial role. They’ll only play if they’re healthy enough to contribute.
“If he can get out there it would be an added bonus, but we’re not going to put him at risk just to get him out there for one more game, or one more series,” Johnson said.