In His Fifth and Final Year, Kempf Eyes Strong Finish
Published: Thursday, September 5, 2013
Updated: Friday, September 6, 2013 02:09
Take the snap, use proper footwork, read the coverage, find the open receiver — and try not to get flattened by one of the 300-lb. behemoths coming for your head. Quarterbacks need to process a lot of information during the few seconds it takes them to drop back to pass, and it is, no question, the most mentally demanding position in all of sports.
2012 was supposed to be a big year for Georgetown senior quarterback Isaiah Kempf. The captain, who had held the starting spot since his freshman year, had a strong preseason and was poised to lead the Hoyas into contention for a Patriot League title. Unfortunately, misfortune struck on the sixth play of the season, when a hard-helmet-to-helmet hit gave Kempf a concussion, sidelining him for the rest of the year.
Kempf had every right to be disappointed due to what might have been. Instead, he took the opportunity to learn.
“I kind of took over the quarterback coach role; I was like an extra graduate assistant. It was good for me to be able to see things from a coach’s perspective,” said Kempf. “When coaches were being hard on a guy, I was able to encourage them and make sure they stayed positive and took the chance to get better.”
Luckily for Kempf, he was granted an extra year of eligibility due to being hurt so early on in the season. The effort he put in as an observer last year has a chance to pay off this year. Few quarterbacks in college football have had the opportunity to master their offense quite like Kempf.
“I was able to sit back and see the bigger picture of what is going on in the game,” said the senior, who played his high school ball outside Los Angeles before completing a postgraduate year at Bridgton Academy in Maine. “When you’re on the field, the game moves so fast and you just see your own reads. It was good to be able to take a step back and analyze everything.”
In 2011, the elusive Patriot League regular season crown and automatic bid into the FCS playoffs slipped away from Georgetown football against Lehigh in its last game of the season. In 2012, every quarterback on the depth chart saw action as a result of injuries, and the Hoyas finished a disappointing 5-6 with only two wins in the league. Stability under center will be key if the Blue and Gray are to make a run at the league title.
“It’s a lot easier on the whole offense this time around, especially the receivers, knowing we’re going to have Isaiah as our starter,” senior wide receiver Zack Wilke said. “Going into every game, every play even, it feels good to know he’s going be out there every snap, the whole team gains confidence.”
Simply put, Georgetown isn’t going to win a lot of blowouts this year, especially given the talent level of its opponents. If this team is to be successful, it is going to have to come up big when it matters most and win the close games. It is going to take the type of poise under pressure that starts with their leaders and trickles down to the entire team.
“He’s gotten to be a really good leader. He takes complete control of the offense and everybody listens,” Wilke said of his quarterback. “Whenever we get the chance, we meet up to talk about plays — he really takes control over that. Isaiah has really gained a lot of confidence in himself throughout the last year.”
Head Coach Kevin Kelly is also quick to praise Kempf’s work ethic.
“[Kempf] is a fifth-year senior; he has been around a lot — he has seen the good, the bad and the ugly here. He is a great leader, an excellent football player, and he worked extremely hard in the offseason,” Kelly said.
Georgetown lost their opener at Wagner this past weekend, but the game will have no bearing on the final Patriot League standings. All that matters to Kempf is that the team continues to grow.
“We were struggling to get going in the second half, but the attitude on the sideline was that we still believed we could win, and that’s what we need all season,” said Kempf. “We learned from the loss, and we will continue to get better over these next four games”
Kempf has been grinding for Georgetown football since 2009 — waking up early for breakfast, then going to treatment in the training room, then heading to practice. It has been a good ride, but one without a trophy in McDonough. This is his last chance to do something about that.
“The end goal this season is win the Patriot League,” Kempf said. “We obviously want to win the league. That’s been my goal since I got here; it’s been our team’s goal from the onset.”