ATLANTA — In a year’s time, Jonathan Dwyer’s lifestyle has become a lot more hectic.
That’s what nearly 1,400 yards rushing and Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year honors will get you.
Since the close of the 2008 season, the junior has paused for a seemingly endless stream of interviews and autograph seekers.
Oh, and to top it all off, the Georgia Tech running back somehow has to sneak in schoolwork, football practice and an occasional snack or two or three.
How does he do it?
“He’s managing it pretty well,” said Dwyer’s teammate, A-back Roddy Jones. “To us, he’s the same old guy. He’s the same old Jon.”
He may be, but to the world that exists outside of Bobby Dodd Stadium, he isn’t just an ordinary guy. He’s becoming something bigger.
“We’ll tease him every now and again for walking around with him in public,” Jones said. “Especially in front of Tech fans, we’ll be like, ‘Hey, you’re Jon Dwyer!’ Stuff like that. But to us, he’s just the same old guy.”
The accolades have been plenty, and the expectations have been high. But Dwyer isn’t focused on others’ expectations for the coming season. He’s more concerned about where Georgia Tech is headed this fall.
“We want an ACC championship, and we want to get into a BCS bowl. That’s our mind-set, and that’s what we’re going to have this upcoming season,” he said.
According to Jones, Dwyer appears motivated to make sure that he is a major component in Georgia Tech’s push to Tampa, Fla., and the ACC championship game in December — regardless how strong his own statistics will be.
“He’s really put in a lot of weight to bettering his game, which is really a testament to him and his work ethic,” Jones said. “But his expectations are for us to win a championship, and as far as personal goals, he would put that to the side in order for us to get a championship.
“He really wants to lead this team to a championship.”
Entering preseason practice, Dwyer was 15 pounds overweight and has been charged by coaches and trainers to do everything he can to shed the extra pounds.
That primarily entails staying on the hot, humid practice fields 10 minutes after the rest of the team has left, running short sprints and shuttles.
“His weight is up a little bit from where he played last year, but if you watch practice, then you would see he can still go through there pretty well,” coach Paul Johnson said. “It’s not like he’s slowed down a great deal, but I just know he could be that much faster if he would drop a few pounds.”
As a 6-foot, 235 pound feature back, it has been Dwyer’s speed that first catches the attention of his opponents.
“He has speed with his size, but he also has quickness to run away from defenders. That’s the amazing thing that really caught my eye is that a guy his size could run away from DBs like that,” Clemson running back C.J. Spiller said. “You don’t usually see that.”
Currently the ACC’s headliner for Heisman hopefuls, Spiller is a multi-position player known for his own speed and athleticism.
Whatever running back hype isn’t following Dwyer this prelude to fall, is going straight to Spiller.
“I realized that he was a really good player once I saw him play against Miami (last season),” Spiller said of Dwyer. “The way (Georgia Tech’s) offense was showcased in that game, you really see that he’s one of the best players in this conference.”
During the late-year, primetime matchup against the Hurricanes, Dwyer had 128 rushing yards on just 10 carries, en route to the Yellow Jackets’ blowout win. The entire team rushed for 472 yards — the second-most Miami has ever allowed.
“That’s really one of the games I look forward to (playing),” Spiller said, “because he’s a great running back and we have great running backs, so it’s going to be fun going up against them.”