BUFORD - In the pantheon of Gwinnett County football, Buford's uniqueness lies in its identity.
Its an identity forged through its self-assurance, stubbornness and pride. The hamlet with its city-run school system barely warrants a dot on the county map and the high school is dwarfed by massive counterparts in all directions, like a brownstone surrounded by skyscrappers.
And like that brownstone, Buford's worth and strength stem from its history. It doesn't need additions or a remodel. Buford lets those buildings glisten knowing, in time, results matter more than glitz.
At 5-foot-7, 162 pounds, Cody Getz lacks glitz. There is no glisten in the measureables of a football player Getz's size. At Buford, he's been overshadowed by running backs like Demetris Murray and in Gwinnett County players like Caleb King, Kenny Miles and Brandon Jacobs steal the attention with production combined with speed and size.
But since Getz moved to Buford, he's lost one football game. He has won a state championship and played a vital role in two out-of-state wins against bigger schools from Ohio and Texas.
With his toughness, resilience and results, Getz is the embodiment of Buford. Small, yet mighty.
"Ever since I came here, it has been, 'We will take you on, no matter what time it is, no matter how big you are,'" Getz said. "That caught me. I am small. That is my mentality."
When Getz stands with his teammates, he blends in. Easy to pass over. There are bigger guys. But when you watch him play he can't be missed. Through three games this season he is tied for the team lead in rushing touchdowns with six. He is averaging more than eight yards a carry and more than eight per reception. He has one punt return for a touchdown and two of the Wolves' seven interceptions.
It's production that height, weight and bench press can't predict. It's production from a lifetime spent creating results with the tools available.
"I have always been the smallest kids on the field so I have pretty much adapted," Getz said. "I just have to find my strengths and have the biggest heart."
Just like its size and history define Buford football, Getz's stature and mentality are the foundations of his football success. His skill is not in spite of his size, it's a result of it.
"I have always said that if I were 5-10 or 5-11 maybe I would get more looks, but I don't think I would be quite the football player I am now," Getz said. "I have been brought up being the smallest person so I have to be the toughest person."
When Getz gets hit, he pops up. When he runs, his legs churn while he falls. He relies on his speed, but he won't hesitate to try to run people over.
"Just persistence," he said.
When Cody Getz watches football, college and pro, he'll scan the teams' rosters looking for guys like him. It's a way to constantly reaffirm his belief that he can thrive at a big-time college. He picks out names like LSU's Trindon Holiday, 5-foot-5, and the San Diego Chargers' Darren Sproles, 5-foot-6. Getz is 5-7.
"If they can do it, I can," he said.
So far, Air Force is his only Division I offer, but like his persistent running, he plans to keep working. He knows results grab attention and once he has your eye he's hard to ignore.
"Hopefully, I'll have a good season and people will want me for what I have and not just my measureables," Getz said.
Nothing means more than winning. It's all Getz knows and what Buford demands. It can be small. It can lack flash. It can't lack Ws. Those old brownstones still stand for a reason. They have value beyond height and amenities. Just like Buford. Just like Getz.
"Buford football is different," Getz said. "People don't understand that pride that a Buford football player takes. It is a different feeling once you know what being a Buford football player means."
Cody Getz knows.
SideBar: The Getz File
Who: Cody Getz
Favorite athlete: Barry Sanders
Favorite sports team: Georgia Bulldogs
How many varsity football games have you lost at Buford?: One
· Has rushed for 230 yards and six touchdowns in three games this season
· Squats 470 pounds
· Receiving college interest from Air Force, Oklahoma State, Vanderbilt, Middle Tennessee State and Georgia Tech