Often times in school, you can watch football players on your team play after the fall season. Many players also compete in other sports during their football offseason. Participating in more than one sport is extremely beneficial because other sports offer the chance to gain skills that can transfer over to football. It also helps with staying in shape during the offseason. Because of this, many quarterbacks also play basketball or baseball.
However, not many play five other sports. Rocky Lombardi is the acme of a multi-sport athlete and finds great value in each sport, but one sport has captured his interest more than the others. Football is the game he has fallen in love with.
Growing up, football was always part of his life. His dad is a coach, which introduced him to the game at a very young age, and it quickly captured his heart. He has always loved the sport, but with the more he learns and experiences on the field, the stronger his passion grows.
Rocky’s first taste of varsity football came when he was only in sixth grade. During a 7 on 7 competition, the starting quarterback suffered an injury. His father, who was also the coach, spotted Rocky on the sidelines. He told his young son to put on his helmet and get on the field.
Everyone in the stands sat anxiously waiting to see how he would do, truthfully just hoping the game would not end in disaster. Relief filled the stands as the final whistle blew; Rocky led the team from 15 points behind, to 20 points ahead.
“That event in particular was special to me because I knew most of those guys and looked up to them and to play with them was awesome,” says Rocky.
Since that day in 2010, his abilities on the field have continued to develop. Physically, he has grown taller and strengthened his arm. Being the son of a coach has given him a different perspective on aspects of the game, and he sees it from both perspectives, of a player and of a coach.
This has helped his overall decision-making, including clock management. He knows when to quickly get plays off to drive down the field, or when to take time off the clock towards the end of games.
As a quarterback, Rocky knows his mannerisms affects the mentality of the whole team. If he shows stress, it affects their mindset. However, he acts cool, calm, and collected. This brings positivity to the huddle and helps settle his teammates.
A unique style Rocky sometimes takes is calming his team down through humor. It has proven to be a positive way to keep their spirits up and anxiety levels down.
Even though Rocky has shown gifted abilities since a young age, his recruitment process was rather slow. Iowa football does not get as much respect as other states, which alienated him from the attention other players receive. In addition, the University of Iowa did not offer him right away, which possibly created doubt in the minds of some coaches.
Throughout the recruiting process, Rocky did a lot of research on which schools had the most success in sending quarterbacks to the NFL. One of the highest on his list was Michigan State.
On March 28, 2016, Rocky received the offer he had been waiting for. Soon after, on April 3, 2016, he announced his commitment to play for the Michigan State Spartans.
In addition to Michigan State’s recent success with quarterbacks, there were many other aspects that contributed to his decision. For Rocky, the campus in East Lansing felt like home from the beginning. The coaching staff also played a crucial role, and after meeting with Coach Dantonio and his staff, it was apparent that they excel in developing players both on and off the field.
Over the summer, Rocky competed in the Elite 11 quarterback camp in Los Angeles. The three days he spent competing against other top recruits under the guidance of top coaches impacted him tremendously.
“The Elite 11 quarterback camp was one of the best experiences of my life and I feel like I could write a 10 page paper about it,” says Rocky.
The coaches taught many things besides quarterback skills, including how to be a man, and how to handle themselves properly in the media. His favorite part of camp was interacting with coaches, mentors, and other players.
“It was so cool to see so many great players and coaches in one location,” he says.
At the beginning of camp, a coach told all of the quarterbacks one piece of advice that stuck with them: This camp is going to show you if you really love football or if you love getting recruited.
Looking back, Rocky is grateful to everyone involved because they helped expand his love and interest for the game. The camp had a major impact on Rocky, and he hopes one day he can return and mentor the next incoming college quarterbacks.
Something that sets Rocky apart from many other quarterbacks in his class is his natural athleticism and abilities in a wide variety of sports. In addition to football, he also plays golf, runs track, throws the discus, plays baseball, plays intermural basketball, and wrestles.
Rocky has excelled on the wrestling mat – he is ranked #14 nationally for the weight class of 220. The biggest highlight of his high school career thus far is not something he accomplished on the football field, but instead, winning a dual wrestling state championship.
Rocky Lombardi is a very versatile athlete and excels in many different ways, both mentally and physically. He shows extreme drive and love for the game, rather than the lifestyle that comes with it. Michigan State is gaining a talented and admirable quarterback who will spread the importance of passion for the game, rather than a love of status.
Rocky’s Advice: I would advise young players to stay involved in anything you can whether that’s another sport or choir or band or whatever I was in choir and moved freshman year to another school and didn’t sign up for it freshman year and then never went back. I really wish I would have stuck with it because I believe everything extra you do outside of your favorite sport teaches you lessons and skills that you will keep for the rest of your life and will probably come in handy one day whether that’s for sports or just life after sports.