After starting at quarterback for most of last year, Temple’s Anthony Russo is stepping up his leadership entering his redshirt junior season.
Interestingly, that isn’t just on the field. During winter workouts, Russo was one of the leaders in, of all places, the weight room. And it has continued into the spring.
The quarterback usually allows the linemen to lead in the weight room, but Russo made it a point there to hold everyone, including himself, accountable.
“Having the whole year as a starter under my belt, I have kind of fallen in that leadership role,” Russo said last week after one of the Owls’ spring practices. “As a quarterback, you have to be the leader.”
That means in all areas, including the weight room.
“I know the weight room is just as important as the practice field, and I want to make sure those guys are working just as hard in the weight room as on the field,” Russo said.
At 6-foot-4 and a sturdy 230 pounds, Russo looks as if he is doing much more than supervising in the weight room. He appears to be doing his part to get stronger for the season.
Teammates have noticed and appreciated his leadership in the weight room.
“He is being more vocal,” said junior receiver Branden Mack, who had 44 receptions for 601 yards and five touchdowns last season. “He is pushing everybody, being a leader like we have to attack this workout.”
Russo earned his first start in the third game of last season when Frank Nutile was injured, and the Archbishop Wood graduate never relinquished the spot.
New coach Rod Carey says every job is up for grabs, but it would be a major surprise if Russo isn’t under center for the Owls’ opening game Aug. 31 at Lincoln Financial Field against Bucknell.
“I think Russo certainly has the lion’s share of the experience, and you can tell when he is playing,” Carey said. “… He has done a fantastic job of leading.”
In 12 games last year, Russo completed 57.7 percent of his passes for 2,563 yards, 14 touchdowns and 14 interceptions.
“Having that year under my belt, the guys are kind of looking up to me,” Russo said. “At quarterback, you have to be the leader, and if you are not a leader at the quarterback position, you can’t be successful.”
So once Carey replaced Manny Diaz, who was the head coach for only 18 days before departing for the University of Miami, Russo was intent on stepping up as a leader.
“To be a leader, it is not just taking it out on the field, but in the classroom, making sure guys are doing well in academics, and in the weight room and out on the field,” Russo said.
One way Russo has earned respect is by never throwing a teammate under the bus and by holding himself accountable for mistakes.