I had a chance to catch up with Cincinnati quarterback-turned-receiver Jordan Luallen this week to find out about his really excellent summer trip, and how he has done in making the move to a new position.
You will have to wait to hear about his trip until I begin my supremely popular series called, "What I did on my summer vacation." For now, here is what he had to say about how football has gone for him during the offseason.
How has it gone for you to make the transition?
Jordan Luallen: I feel like it's gone pretty well. I’m getting used to running routes. That's the biggest transition, getting in and out of my breaks quickly. I’ve made a lot of strides from Day 1. I feel like I'm a much better receiver, but there's so much more room to grow. With football intelligence, I feel like I have a step up because as a quarterback, you have to know everything. I have a lot broader range of knowledge as a wide receiver. From that aspect, I'm definitely very comfortable. It's more of a physical thing getting used to everything, going from three-step drops to running 15-yard comebacks, but I think I'm coming along well.
How did the move happen? Did you approach the coaches, or did they come to you?
JL: We were having our postseason meetings and I went in there with Coach (Mike) Bajakian, he had a list of things I needed to improve on. Being the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach we have a good relationship, so I went in there and said, ‘Coach, I want to help this team no matter what. I want to get on the field and make a contribution. Tell me what the best thing to do is and I'll do it.’ We had a meeting with Coach (Butch) Jones, and me and Coach Jones talked about it. All three of us were on the same page, so really it was just me wanting to help this team be a better football team and win, so that is how it came up. So far, everything's been good. I'm excited about it, and hopefully this will be something to help the team.
Why did you want to make the move? You saw some playing time with Munchie Legaux last year when Zach Collaros got hurt, and the quarterback race was going to be open in the spring.
JL: I’m still very confident in myself as a quarterback, but I'm very confident in Munchie, too, and I knew he had great ability. Watching him play those last couple games, I knew he had great ability, and from competing with him last spring, I knew he had great ability. I wasn't sure what the (coaches’) response was going to be or how they would take it. I felt like I could definitely go out there and compete with him, but at the end of the day I knew maybe my passing wasn’t my strongest point and running the ball was my strongest point. I knew that I could help the team be productive in some way and I wanted to do that. I had full confidence in the other guys, so if they wanted me to play a different position, I had no problem with that and just wanted to do whatever it was to make our team successful.
So have you ever played receiver?
JL: My fifth-grade year, I played five plays at wide receiver, and my freshman year in high school, I had six plays at wide receiver.
So 11 total plays ever?
JL: (Chuckles). Yup, that’s right.
JL: I had two catches and one touchdown in my fifth-grade year and zero my freshman year.
So you need to tell me how you go about learning a new position when you have basically never done it.
JL: Well, last year during pre-practice, I would always joke around and run routes and stuff and before games, me and Brendon Kay would always catch balls for Zach and would always run routes and be cool and run really good routes and stuff. I had a little bit of knowledge, from studying so much film, knowing the offense as much as you have to as a quarterback, especially in our system. I knew what I needed to do. It was just the physical aspect. I was terrible when I first started it. Not saying I'm good or great by any means now, but I've gotten a lot better and made a lot of strides. It's just having a mentality to do the best you can and not care about how dumb you look, just trying to be the best football player you can.
Have you had to work extra on pass catching?
JL: I think I naturally have good hands, and the coaches saw that, too, so that was part of the reason they put me at wide receiver. I’ve definitely had to work harder and make it into something that's a routine thing for me, to watch the ball in and tuck it away.
I imagine you are out there doing lots of 7-on-7s and working with the quarterbacks to get rhythm and chemistry going this summer.
JL: Absolutely. We throw four times a week, and I'm just trying to refine my routes and make sure they know when I'm going to be coming out of my breaks. They're comfortable with me. They have trust in me that I'm going to be where I am going to be when I need to be there. Everything is coming along and hopefully this season we'll be able to show that.