The Nittany Lions have completed 124 passes of 20 or more yards since the start of the 2016 season, top-10 nationally. Mississippi State had 68 over that same span.
Coaches know Fitzgerald has the ability because they witnessed it during the spring: the deep comebacker, the out route from the opposite hash, the inside seam ball between a safety and linebacker.
They’ll lean on his arm more than his legs. In fact, the morning of a reporter’s visit, Moorhead had met with his offensive staff to discuss just how much to run Fitzgerald.
A typical Moorhead offense might average 10–15 called QB runs a game, and that includes RPOs. The discussion in there today was because of his ability and skill set, is the number 15–20? Moorhead says. I think a lot of that will be determined by where we are in preseason camp.
Two surgeries and months of rehabilitation have Fitzgerald’s ankle oh-so close to 100%, despite its appearance. A jagged eight-inch scar runs down the outside of his right leg, from his calf to his foot, and a two-inch scar on the inside of his right foot marks where Linton inserted a screw, then removed it six weeks later.
They are there forever, unnecessary reminders in a world with the Internet. Immediately after the injury, from an X-ray room at Davis Wade Stadium, Fitzgerald scrolled on his phone through videos of the play, followed by the gruesome result.
As far as how that ties into the military and the anthem, if you ask anyone on our team, we love the military and the anthem and the flag, and everything that it stands for. We’re hopeful that by taking some initiative, and taking a stand to make a difference this spring, we got to some of those issues that are really important and that need our attention. I was glad that we were able to make an impact.
It was easier, too, because of the attachment the Falcons have had to the military, and the fulfillment of Quinn’s plan to build its principles into his program. The idea crystallized with the story of the injured soldier, but that was neither the beginning nor the end for the coach.
Quinn’s father-in-law, Larry Haines, was in the Navy, and a number of his college buddies served too. He says now that if not for coaching, there’s a good chance that would’ve been his life too. And so he’s always kept a connection there, and that was the impetus to launch Quinn’s Corps in 2009 in Seattle, when he was the D-line coach. He took it with him to the University of Florida, back to Seattle and then to Atlanta.