SOUTH BEND, Ind. – Terry Godwin doesn’t think he saw A.J. Green’s catch at Colorado, seven years ago this month, live when it happened. Godwin was only in eighth grade, five years away from himself becoming, like Green, a receiver on the Georgia football team.
But Godwin has seen it on plenty of highlights: Green reaching high up in the air, grabbing the pass from Aaron Murray, and pulling it in as he hit the ground, keeping his feet in bounds.
“I used to watch his videos all the time. That catch there, that’s something that inspired me,” Godwin said. “He inspired me to come to Georgia and do what I do. And I’m trying to leave that legacy.”
On Saturday night at Notre Dame, Godwin created his own legacy, or at least highlight, with a catch that rivaled the best one of Green’s career at Georgia.
Godwin’s one-handed, reaching catch, in which he somehow got his right foot in bounds, will be on highlights for a long time. It was also vitally important to Georgia’s eventual 20-19 win.
It came on third down, and the touchdown – initially ruled out of bounds, overruled on replay – allowed Georgia to tie it at 10 in the second quarter. If Godwin hadn’t caught it, there’s a four-point swing right there.
“First thing that went through my mind was AJ Green,” said Georgia head coach Kirby Smart, who was Alabama’s defensive coordinator at the time. That’s how memorable Green’s catch was, in 2010.
Murray, watching elsewhere on television, saw the comparison too, tweeting out: “Catch looked like AJ Green vs. Colorado! Wow!!!”
But Georgia still lost that game. It won this game.
Green is also 6-foot-4. Godwin is only 5-10, so his leap was perhaps all the more impressive.
Godwin caught quarterback Jake Fromm’s pass in the corner. It was third-and-goal from the 5. Godwin was past the defender, reached high, pulled the ball into his right shoulder pads, then held on as his backside hit the ground, getting his right foot down just before the rest of his body went out.
At first the official was adamant: No catch. Out of bounds.
“I knew right away I had one foot in and I had possession of the ball,” Godwin said.
What did he tell the official?
“Check the scoreboard,” Godwin said, adding hastily: “That’s what I said to myself, I never said anything to myself. I just went to the sidelines with my teammates and looked at the replay.”
It was one of just two catches for the Georgia junior receiver on Saturday night, but the other one was really good too: Godwin stopped a deep sideline route and came back to catch a 31-yarder, on a play that set up a field goal.
That was the most yardage. But the touchdown catch will probably be remembered for awhile, perhaps by a current middle-schooler who will someday play receiver at Georgia.
“We work on that every day. Tough catches with your feet in bounds. Being able to hold the ball while the defender is trying to swat at it. That’s a routine catch for us,” Godwin said. “That’s what we’re always doing in practice, and it finally showed when the lights came on.”