By Mike Bruu, TSB Sports Writer
Earlier this week I was able to talk to the quarterback of the McKinney Lions football team, senior Robert Somborn. I asked him about his early days of getting into football, how he prepares for game throughout the week, and what his expectation are for himself and his team for the rest of the season.
Q: What age did you start playing football?
A: “I started in third and fourth grade in the McKinney rec league. That was when they put third and fourth graders together. But yeah, in fourth grade I played middle linebacker and quarterback and fullback, because they wouldn’t let you play quarterback for the entire game so I had to play fullback for about a quarter or so.”
Q:What got you into football?
A: “I actually used to only play baseball and that was actually my favorite sport for the longest time, but then at recess in elementary school we started to play football with some friends and after that I told my dad I wanted to play. So he signed me up for the league and that’s how I started.”
Q: Did you keep playing baseball?
A: “I kept playing baseball and basketball as well, and I played basketball up until eighth grade and I played baseball through my freshman year, but had to quit because I broke my wrist sophomore year.”
Q: What was your position in baseball?
A: “I used to be a catcher and I played a lot of third base, and in high school I played outfield, a little bit of third base, and I pitched.”
Q: Now let’s get back to football. What do you like most about the position of quarterback?
A: “Back when we were playing ball in recess, I always had the strongest arm because of baseball I think. Every time we played I would play quarterback and I would always throw it to everybody, and I think it was just kind of natural for me to go and try out to play quarterback because that’s what I had always talked about with my dad. He always thought I would make a good quarterback. That’s just the position I always wanted to play too, probably because I get to touch the ball every time. Plus you always hear about quarterbacks so obviously I wanted to play the position after hearing all about it.”
Q: What’s the best part about playing quarterback?
A: “That’s tough but I would probably saying being the leader of the offense and having everything under control and being able to touch the ball every snap. It’s a really important role and I just like being that guy that everybody looks to on offense to get things going.”
Q: What’s the most stressful part?
A: “I think the most stressful part is just that everyone is watching you no matter what. They are always watching and not just on the field, but off the field as well. With everything going on with school, grades, teachers, you name it, people always have their eye on me being in that position so that’s sometimes stressful. But it’s not like I don’t like that because it keeps me out of control and in check, cause I know I can’t do anything that will go unnoticed and go under the radar.”
Q: Where do you feel you are strongest in your game right now?
A: “I think the strongest thing right now for me is just the experience from the past two years an just being able to get back there and not really be nervous, but just go out there and relax because I’ve been out there so much. I think that my deep balls have gotten a lot better and my overall throwing ball has gotten pretty good and that it has really developed. The thing I need to work on most, and this is what every quarterback says they need to work on all the time, is just decision-making and just working on being patient and letting the play develop. Just let the game slow down which makes it a lot easier for myself.”
Q: As a quarterback, how do you slow the game down?
A: “Slowing the game down for me means preparing before hand and watching film and studying defenses in general. Just having a play in how cornerbacks play and how they drop into coverage and how linebackers check the run and drop. Little things like that are good, and when I am prepared and I know what they are going to do, when I see them do it on the field in a game it’s natural, and I am not surprised by anything. It just gets a lot easier when you prepare and practice a lot, because the defense dictates where the ball goes and who gets it and whose open.”
Q: How do you watch game film? Is the method similar to how all quarterbacks study film?
A: “I think that all quarterbacks, quarterback coaches, and offensive coordinators all look for the weaknesses in opposing defenses and what their tendencies are as a defense. We look for different formations, doubles, when we go to trips and they roll their coverage, or when they try to disguise different looks. We just try to look for holes in the defense where if they were in cover two and the corner is sitting on all shallow routes, and he is allowing the outside guy free release, then that’s going to be an open shot just right in the hole of the defense. We look for weak players compared to other sides and that determines which side of the field we want to go to. Basically we look for the most efficient way to throw and run the ball against their defense based on what they are doing.”
Q: Do you consider watching film fun? Have you adjuted to how much it takes to prepare for a game?
A: “It was weird at first to watch film sophomore year, because we just never did that and it was never a big part of the game. But now watching film is normal and it’s a regular thing and it really does help a lot, because it gives me a chance to see what I am going to be against. It’s never really been a bad thing and I’ve never not liked watching film. I’ve always just gone into film studies and paid attention to everything I could from the coaches, because they know this stuff way better than I do. What they point out helps me to know what to look for next time.”
Q: Every athlete has a defining moment in their young career where they realize they are pretty good. What’s your moment?
A: “I would say that the one game that really stuck out was last year against The Colony. We had a huge night on offense and just a lot of things seemed to be working out for us. There were a lot of holes in the defense that we picked on and receivers did an awesome job of just finding those holes and I just had to get the ball to them. They did a great job of catching everything and I actually ended up with over 400 passing yards. After the game when someone told me about the number I was just kind of shocked because I really didn’t think that I had that big of a game. It was actually kind of weird because I went home and I was kind of bummed about that game. We had lost and I felt like there was a lot more I could have done and that I could have had a bigger night, but when they said I had that many passing yard and they showed me the rest of the stats, it was a weird feeling cause it was one of my best games I had ever had. But after that I knew that this is what I need to work for every week and I shouldn’t really be satisfied with numbers less than that. Just striving to play like that every game. When that happened it was kind of an eye-opener as to how much we could have done and how much we can do as an offense with all the talent around me.”
Q: Let’s talk a little bit about your team. From the outside it appears you guys are having a lot of fun right now. Is that a fair assessment?
A: “No doubt we are. We aren’t just celebrating and laughing and having a good time, but we are just so happy to be out there and doing our jobs and to do them well. We had such a good offseason and went through so much stuff, and for use to come out and go on the field and have success, we just celebrate and love it as much as we can because we know we aren’t going to get this chance again as seniors. It’s just so much different from last year and with so many good things happening, we all just get excited and we just celebrate everything good that we can. We know we have to build off of that and we have to keep the momentum from those good plays and continue to roll through it. But we know if we get too happy and get satisfied with it, we know someone will sneak up on us and we could lose. It’s a really good excitement. Everyone is having fun, even if it’s not them making the best play. They are just having fun because we are winning and doing well.”
Q: What does head coach Jeff Smith mean to you guys? Have you guys begun to really take on his personality as a football team?
A: “I think so. He has always been really level about everything and we’ve been stressing that a lot. We just need to be steady through everything. No ups and downs. If we can just get back to the line of scrimmage and live to play another down, that’s all we are good with. No negative plays or turnovers. With Coach Smith, he comes to practice every day with the exact same intensity regardless. It’s the same intensity as week one of fall camp.”
Q: With the 2-0 start, do you guys feel like last year is officially over? That there are no more lingering effects?
A: “I would say kind of yes, but we are not satisfied with just 2-0. We were so happy after 1-0 that what we wanted more was 2-0, and I think every week is going to be that way for us. Definitely I think we have showed people that we are a different team this year and that last year was a really strong building year for us. It gave every body a lot of experience. However, this year will be different and it already is different. We are excited about everything that is coming in the future.”
Somborn and the Lions travel to Irving Nimitz on Friday night, looking to improve to 3-0. Game time is 7:30 p.m. from Irving Schools Stadium.
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