JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — It served as a beautiful metaphor, Terry Godwin passing to Malcolm Mitchell for a 44-yard touchdown midway through the second quarter. It was a sort of passing of the torch or the baton, but in inverse.
Godwin is a freshman receiver for Georgia, and he’s the only one among that group that has shown the penchant for making plays the likes of which Mitchell has for most of his four seasons on the football field. Mitchell finished with 114 yards receiving and a touchdown in his last game as a Bulldog. Godwin, who threw that TD and caught another, was named TaxSlayer Bowl MVP.
“He loves to play,” Mitchell said of his young understudy, whom he has taken under his wing. “I’m just glad I was able to be a part of that with him. All I had to do was catch the ball. He had to throw it.”
Asked whether he thought Godwin would pick up where he left off, Mitchell laughed.
“I hope he plays better than I did,” he said. “I hope he doesn’t get hurt like I did either.”
Godwin, an elite prospect out of Hogansville, has developed a reputation for being quiet-spoken and modest as much as being a dynamic play-maker. But he admitted that Saturday’s performance and his production this year has given him new-found confidence and excitement about the future.
“I think the coaches believe in me enough to put the ball in my hands to make a play,” he said as he sat with the MVP trophy in the postgame news conference. “I believe that’s what they’re going to do in the future. That’s what they have done in the past.”
And he’ll do more of it in the future. Godwin finished with 102 total yards including four catches for 34 yards and a 27-yard kickoff return. He also lost three yards on one run.
Increasingly, the Bulldogs ran the former high school quarterback out of their “Wild Dog” formation. It was out of the formation that Godwin hooked up with Mitchell. It’s a play they’ve been working on all season.
“I mean, it was pretty exciting to come out there and throw my first college touchdown,” Godwin said, his trademark grin stretching wide. “We’ve been working on that play all week, before we got here and this week. It feels good (Bryan McClendon) had trust in me to call it.”
Quipped McClendon: “If you would have seen how he threw it this past Thursday, you would have been scolding me why we said to call it.”
Turning serious, McClendon, Georgia’s interim head coach and Godwin’s position coach for this entire season, said he knows the Bulldogs have themselves another budding star in the making.
“I’ve said this all along: Certain guys are born to do certain things. And I really believe this, I believe Terry Godwin was born to play wide receiver,” McClendon said. “Just the natural things that he can do movement-wise, getting open, how he naturally catches the football. For a guy of his stature, not many guys have the length that he has, long arms, big hands. He’s able to make traffic catches and focus in on the ball.”
And as everyone saw, he can throw it a little bit, too.