As noted earlier this week, Springfield College freshman quarterback Jonathan Marrero earned his first Golden Helmet Award on Wednesday at the New England Football Writers’ Gridiron Club of Greater Boston luncheon.
After the luncheon concluded, Noontime Sports caught up with head coach Mike DeLong and quarterbacks coach Tim Brady to discuss their quarterback’s special honor.
Prior to his first start against Union College, what did you know about John? Did you say anything to him prior to kickoff?
“He’s a poised kid, he’s confident. Nothing really rattles him, and he’s under a lot of pressure and those teams are good teams, they came after him pretty good on defense, but again he showed no excessive nervousness or anything because he was ready to go and now that he’s got some experience and speed, he’s doing a lot of nice things.”
After the Union game concluded, what’d you say to John?
“Well, you just put that one behind you. That’s your first game, first start, it’s an away game, it’s against a good football team, but you put that one behind you, you learn from it and move on. And he studies his film, he’s hard on himself, he’s high standards for himself, he’s demanding for himself, so we saw good steps as he moved into the second game and we continue to see those things improve.”
It’s been a few weeks since his first collegiate start, so what have you noticed about him over the past few weeks?
“He’s making better decisions and quicker decisions. In those first games, he wasn’t quite as quick and now it’s both better decisions and quicker decisions now that he’s had all that speed work.”
Talk about this past weekend’s performance. Did you think he could score seven touchdowns in a half?
“He’s a good player, and he’s really tough with the ball in his hands. He’s tough to tackle one-on-one. If they try to assign one guy to him, I’d bet on him to be able to get by that guy most of the time and he’s been throwing the ball, which we haven’t quite gotten there, so I certainly felt he had that potential to have the great game. I think he had six completions and four of those were for touchdowns, but of the four touchdowns three were deep balls that he had to step up in there and throw, so again with that poise he’s confident when he throws and we’re confident that it’s going to be a catchable ball.”
Finally, looking back on the recruiting experience, how’re you able to lure him to Springfield?
“We just saw a couple things. Obviously, we saw [he was an athlete] who could run and throw, but as you got to know him, you saw a young man [who we felt was] a great character. He was polite through the entire recruiting process, very prompt with returning calls and just doing all the things you would hope a young person would do. He’s not real big, but he’s wiry and very, very athletic, and he’s a competitor and his blood runs warm.”
When Coach DeLong decided Jonathan was going to be the starter against Union, what steps did you take to help prepare him for the game?
“After our two other quarterbacks went down, we called John on [the Sunday before his first start] and said, ‘John, this is your team, you’ve got to really step up.’ He came in that night, we were watching some film on Union, watched some extra film Monday night together, but he’s just a really easy coachable kid and always asking questions, always really wants to put in the extra effort because he knows that running the triple-option [isn’t easy because there are] so many decisions to make, but he knows he needs to step up.”
How’d the team respond when they heard Jonathan was going to start at quarterback?
“All the guys rallied around him and saw what he could do against Rochester and the little bit [from that contest exhibited] he could make some plays, so it was more the players were supporting him, always talking to him after every single drive [and provided encouraging remarks, too].”
How did you help him learn the triple-option offense?
“Just basically telling him to trust your decisions and trust your athletic ability. He is one of the most athletic kids on the field, so when it doubt just run the football because he’s going to make guys miss and run past people because he’s so athletic.”
What did last weekend’s effort against Merchant Marine show you and the other coaches?
“It was absolutely unbelievable. It was just an amazing performance obviously with those types of statistics, but he just really clicked. [A majority of the plays] were wide open and John just stepped back, had confidence in his arm, put it right on the guy and when he saw that inch he took it and he was gone.”