When it comes to the triple option offense, it seems like he can do it all. Synjyn Days has thrown for 200 yards as a quarterback, rushed for nearly 1,000 yards as a running back and even caught his first career touchdown pass this year.
After starting B-back Zach Laskey went down against North Carolina, Days was moved from A-back to replace Laskey. Some growing pains would have been expected from suddenly playing a new position, but the redshirt senior has exploded for 414 yards in his 3 games at B-back, providing unexpected but welcome depth and allowing Laskey to avoid rushing his recovery.
Position changes are nothing new to Days. He was originally recruited out of Hillgrove High School as a quarterback but switched to running back after 2 seasons and has alternated between A-back and B-back since.
Head coach Paul Johnson praised Days’ athletic potential, calling the B-back role “Synjyn’s natural position” and saying that “we knew he’d be something special for sure.”
While the constant switching might have been confusing and frustrating for some, Days has embraced every change that has come his way by adding 10 pounds in the offseason, constantly watching film and always learning from the other Tech running backs, especially Laskey.
The 6’2”, 230 pound Days takes great pride in his conditioning, which has allowed him to carry the ball a whopping 65 times in the last 3 games, more carries than he had in the previous two seasons combined. The main challenge he faced was remembering whom to block, but he credits his sharp mind as his key to avoid such mental mistakes.
Aside from the Georgia Tech coaching staff, Days has had a special source of coaching and motivation: his parents. Paula and Calvin Days have always been very involved in Synjyn’s football career, even coaching his middle school football team together. Paula is responsible for her son’s unique first and middle names: “Synjyn” came from her favorite volleyball player (Sinjin Smith) while “Skky” was chosen because “the sky is the limit” for her son.
He spent the entire offseason working with both parents, never missing a workout while training twice a day for six to seven days a week.
The hard work has paid off, as the Marietta, GA, native’s 157 yards against N.C. State earned Days “ACC Offensive Back of the Week” honors and a feature article on ESPN.com.
In addition to Days’ award, senior offensive lineman Shaq Mason collected his third “ACC Offensive Lineman of the Week” while senior linebacker Quayshawn Nealy was named “ACC Linebacker of the Week” for the third time.
Days is also now the only player in the Paul Johnson era to have a rushing touchdown as a quarterback, A-back, and B-back.
Following in his parents’ footsteps, Days has become somewhat of a coach himself. His experience at the three main triple option positions allows him to see things that other players might not see.
“I can see when someone messes up, then I’m able to correct him without the coach having to say anything,” explains Days. “I’m able to coach [starting quarterback] Justin [Thomas], Zach [Laskey], and the A-backs after playing all 3 positions.”
Even when he doesn’t get the ball or gets tackled, Days says he is able to look around and tell other players how to improve their own blocking.
Another advantage arising from playing multiple positions is Days’ ability to anticipate what his teammates will do.
“Sometimes I get the ball, and I see a defender coming towards me, but I know that an A-back or lineman will get him, so I make a cut. That guy ends up getting blocked, and I end up breaking a big run,” Days said.
Blocking has been a huge improvement over last year, according to Days, with offensive linemen, running backs and wide receivers alike making great interior and perimeter blocks.
He remembers first seeing current offensive line starters Bryan Chamberlain and Freddie Burden as freshmen and wondering how they would turn out.
After seeing them play so well this season, Days loves to praise how far they have come since last season.
“It’s great to see them mature, learn the offense and see their hard work finally pay off,” Days said.
After football season, Days plans to finish up his classes in the spring and apply to dental school thereafter. But first, the Yellow Jackets have two huge rivalry games in front of them: Clemson at home and UGA in Athens in the final regular season game of Days’ career.
With Laskey and top A-back Charles Perkins set to return against Clemson, Days will likely see his carries diminish but is sure play a vital role nonetheless.
When asked if he might add to his offensive arsenal by kicking an extra point in his final game, Days laughed and said that he doubted that Coach Johnson would let him do that.
“It would be funny though,” Days admitted, “I’ve kicked with [kicker] Harrison [Butker] before, but I can’t kick it like him. I toe the ball, so who knows where that ball would end up.”
Even though he (probably) won’t get to kick or play any more snaps at quarterback, Days is very much looking forward to facing the Tigers on his Senior Day.
Clemson’s defense ranks second in the nation in yards allowed and fourth in rushing yards allowed, so Days’ rushing prowess will be much needed if the Jackets want to reach nine wins for the first time since 2009.
Tech kicks off against the Clemson Tigers in their final home game of the year on Saturday at noon on ESPN.