No ordinary Joe
Georgia Tech's Hamilton one QB to watch in '99
Posted: Friday January 01, 1999 06:56 PM
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) -- Let those other quarterbacks go to the pros. College football seems to be in good shape for at least another year with guys like Joe Hamilton hanging around.
Hamilton, overlooked in a year of Couch, Culpepper, McNabb and McNown, asserted himself as one to watch next season by leading No. 12 Georgia Tech to a 35-28 victory over No. 17 Notre Dame in the Gator Bowl on Friday.
Coach George O'Leary said Hamilton's performance -- 13-for-20 for 237 yards, three touchdown passes, one touchdown catch -- was nothing out of the ordinary.
"He's a very positive individual and everything is always upbeat," O'Leary said. "If there was a bomb in this room right now, he'd want to come in and defuse it."
The bomb in this case was a Notre Dame team that woke up in the second half, turning a 21-7 deficit into a 28-28 tie early in the fourth quarter.
Hamilton didn't change a thing, moving the team calmly down the field and looking for the big play only when Jacksonville native Dez White was too open to ignore.
Hamilton led touchdown drives of 87, 78, 84, 71 and 91 yards.
And more than the 44- and 55-yard bombs to White, O'Leary appreciated the little stuff. Like the quarterback sneaks that resulted in 5-yard gains, the perfect pitches on the option, the athleticism that allowed him to pitch the ball, then run a pass pattern for a 5-yard touchdown catch to open the scoring.
"The game has changed so much over the years, you need your quarterbacks to make plays for you when they're not there," O'Leary said. "He made some plays today that weren't there."
At 5-foot-10, 189 pounds, Hamilton doesn't appear to have the frame for the NFL. It seems sure some NFL team will think about converting him to another position.
Luckily -- for himself and his team -- he has one more season to show how good a quarterback he can be.
More important than that, at least in his mind, he'll get a chance to take Georgia Tech a notch higher in the national picture.
That was what the victory over Notre Dame was all about to him. And that, more than anything else, is what will put him in the spotlight next season.
"With this win giving us 10 wins, we should finish in the top 10 in the final poll, and that's where we want to be going into next year," he said. "We don't have to climb any ladders. We'll control our own destiny. That's a big thing."
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