Bob Lutz: Root has more quarterbacking in his future
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Landon Root has a hamstring injury, which means he is hamstrung when it comes to trying to run the football.
And for a player like Root, whose wheels are as valuable to him as Collegiates quarterback as his highly-trained right arm, the pull in the back of his leg is more than a nuisance. It has limited what he can do.
Its kind of frustrating, said Root, who led Collegiate against Trinity Academy in a Class 4A district opener Friday. If I need to scramble or stuff like that, it hurts to run. I wish I could do that more, but right now Im just trying to do what I can to help the team.
And Roots rocket of a right arm helps the Spartans, who lost two close ones to Andale and Buhler to start the season and were beaten by Maize South, 24-10.
Were better than our record, Collegiate coach Mike Gehrer said. Weve played two really good teams in Andale and Buhler, and Maize South really came out and got after us early and we didnt respond very well. But our young guys are coming along. Were undersize but competing our brains out.
Root passed for 1,601 yards and 18 touchdowns last season and rushed for another 582 yards and 11 touchdowns. Hes the total package and has already committed to Northern Illinois, where dual-threat quarterbacks carry the day. The Huskies current QB, Jordan Lynch, passed for 3,138 yards last season and rushed for another 1,815. Hes doing more of the same in 2013 for an unbeaten team.
Root likes that kind of an offensive system. He didnt really take up quarterbacking full time until his sophomore season, but since then hes gone all out to learn the position.
Before my junior year, I probably went to 15 to 20 quarterback camps, Root said. I remember in one week driving up to Kansas State for a camp, then hitting KU and then driving down to Oklahoma State and then Tulsa. Four camps in six days.
And eager for more.
Root works out with Joe Dickinson, a noted quarterback trainer who has worked with the likes of David Cornwell, an Alabama commitment who is considered one of the top high school quarterbacks in the country but who suffered a season-ending injury two weeks ago. Root and Dickinson have probably had 100 sessions together, which is even more remarkable considering Dickinson lives in Oklahoma City.
Countless drives to Oklahoma City and back, Root said. And lots of work on the techniques and fundamentals of being a quarterback. The thing Joe has really helped me with most are breaking down the throwing mechanics. Thats something high school coaches dont always have a lot of time to teach.
Root is lapping it up. He said he loves breaking down film of quarterbacks and learning how to analyze a defense by how its aligned. Root has learned theres so much more to playing the position than learning a three-step drop and hes pouring himself into every detail.
But its not all analytical for Root.
Hes a fighter and a fierce competitor, Gehrer said. Thats one of his main strengths. And he loves the game, loves to think about the game. Hes always trying to figure out something that will work against a defense. Hes invested a lot into the work of being a quarterback.
Root (6-foot-3, 205 pounds) has good speed and a strong arm. Hes the first Division I recruit to play quarterback at Collegiate, Gehrer said, and says he was drawn to Northern Illinois after what else? attending a quarterback camp in Chicago.
Coaches from Northern Illinois, in nearby DeKalb, were there and liked what they saw.
They run an offense up there thats a lot like the one we run at Collegiate, Root said. They do a lot of zone read and a lot of passing. Its a very quarterback-friendly offense and a lot of fun to watch. Its a great football program and theyre starting to attract a lot of bigger and better recruits because of their success.
Root, though, is rooted in the here and now and trying to figure out a way to get Collegiate into the playoffs and then for a deep run. It doesnt help that his top receiver, Bret Waddell, is out with an injured knee.
Bret has been a really big target for Landon, Gehrer said.
The analytical Root, though, plans to find other ways to move the offense. So what if he doesnt have his top receiver? So what if his hamstring pulls every time he thinks its healed?
Were fighting through this season, Root said. Weve been in all the games weve lost. As long as nothing happens to my arm, I think well be OK.