Logan Drummer coaches Southern's football team.
Logan Drummer coaches Southern’s football team [Nick Henthorn]

Former Southern Quarterback Returns in New Role

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Versatility is a prized trait in football. Dual-threat quarterbacks, offensive linemen adapt at power or zone blocking, cornerbacks equally equipped to shutdown the opposition in cover 0 or cover 4. The more things you can do, the more valuable you are.

Southern’s Logan Drummer just took that to a whole new level.

Fresh off a senior season in which his Tornadoes squad went 6-4, Drummer may have graduated from high school, but his involvement with the Tornadoes continues.

Drummer has taken on a new challenge this season, volunteering to both keep stats and coach quarterbacks and kickers.

“It’s really nice having Logan come back with these guys,” said Southern head coach Cassady Willford. “Because Logan was friends with these guys. I mean he was on the team with them last year, so Logan being able to be in the coaches meetings and also be able to talk to them on a friend level; you know it helps out our young guys – and really also our older guys – continue to grow into the program we’re looking for.”

Drummer’s primary concern for the year would be mentoring a player that he was throwing passes to 12 months ago.

It would’ve been easy for Gage Shuler to shy away from a position change. Especially a position change to quarterback in his senior season. Yet there he was, the former wide receiver, running the offense and reading the defense in walkthroughs Thursday before their scrimmage the following day against the Eastern Eagles.

“I’m starting to get used to it, grinding every day, I’ve got Logan here to help me out,” Shuler said. “He’s always here. He’s here every practice, giving me tips, telling me what to do to get better. And I always listen.”

Shuler throws the ball in practice [Nick Henthorn]
The team gathers at practice [Nick Henthorn]
Drummer coaches his former teammates [Nick Henthorn]
Gage Shuler in practice [Nick Henthorn]

Once a quarterback-wide receiver tandem, the dynamic between the two has changed, with Shuler leading the team on game day as the quarterback and Drummer giving words of wisdom during practice as a coach.

For Shuler though, the working relationship he shares with Drummer is different than the one he has with his other coaches.

“Gage is one heck of an athlete,” Drummer said. “And when you’re his quarterback for a year and you already develop this relationship with each other because you played so many years together … it’s easy to help him out and give him some advice. It’s easier for him to take that than from a coach that he might not really know as closely as we know each other.”

The respect the two have for one another is exactly what you would expect between two people who have shared a football field as teammates, and are now sharing the knowledge of what it feels like to shoulder the responsibilities of quarterbacking a team.

“[Being coached by Drummer] is different just because he is more my age. I can listen to him, watch him, see what he’s done before, and just try to do the same thing,” Shuler said.

The concept of coaching from someone who is close to you is not foreign to Logan Drummer. He was in a similar position last season, when his older brother, Blake Johnson, came to practice for a few weeks to teach Drummer as less of a coach, more of a peer. Drummer felt that those weeks were incredibly helpful to his development as a quarterback.

“I just felt like it was easier to listen to him … it just feels like it’s easier to listen to someone your age who has more experience recently than a coach would, even though the coaches know more, but in some cases it’s easier to listen to the guy who has done it on the field before you,” said Drummer.

Will the same benefits be true in the case of Gage Shuler? Quarterback has as steep a learning curve as any position, but so far the answer coming from those around him is a resounding yes.

“He’s taking the snaps pretty well,” Coach Willford said. “He was our back up quarterback last year behind Logan so he took some snaps last year and he’s already got the base of the offense under control.”

“He’s doing a really good job,” Drummer said. “He’s listening, taking advice, taking criticism, he’s just taking it and running with it and he’s making good plays out here for us.”

Handling his new duties in the controlled environment of training camp and practices is one thing, but as any signal caller will tell you, there’s just nothing quite like live game action. The season opener against Notre Dame is just over the horizon, and Shuler, even with crash courses in quarterback from Drummer, will have to lead the Tornadoes differently.

“The good thing, the difference between him and Logan, Logan had a better arm than he does, Shuler is just a gifted athlete,” Willford said. “So he has the feet to make the plays, he still has the arm strength; it’s just the accuracy is what we’ve been working on all throughout camp. He’s looking pretty sharp and we’re excited to get him rolling this week in our jamboree game and next week rolling into week one.”

Shuler being faster than Drummer? It’s a sentiment the senior agrees with.

“He’s quicker on the release … but I feel like I can run a little better.”

He is quick, though, to put the credit back on his former quarterback-turned-coach.

“He was still definitely a stud, I’ll give him that.”

A stud as a quarterback, and maybe, on his way to being just as good of a coach.