Staff Photo: John Bohn Grayson quarterback Nick Schuessler spent the offseason changing his throwing motion, becoming a bigger threat for the run-first Grayson Rams.
LOGANVILLE -- Reared in the Grayson community, Nick Schuessler watched the birth of the program.
He remembers the sparse crowds. He remembers the youth nights. He watched the Rams turn from fledgling to upstart to power.
"I have just seen how much they have done with this program to now, being ranked nationally, from where (head coach Mickey Conn) took this program is amazing for the whole coaching staff," Schuessler said. "It's cool going out in public and people are like, 'They play for Grayson.' Everybody has a respect for you. We have been real fortunate and real blessed."
Schuessler watched the rise of the Rams and knew, even before he reached high school, he would have the same challenges. Schuessler played quarterback and his team's interest in passing was tertiary at best.
"You have to be unselfish. It doesn't bother me as long as we are winning games," Schuessler said. "When you get to pass the ball you always have to make the best of every situation when you get to pass it because we don't throw the ball 30 times a game. Every time I do have to pass it, you have to be able to make a play. I have limited opportunities to make a play."
Those opportunities come more now.
Admittedly, Schuessler lost his focus on throwing the ball last season. As the playoffs wore on and he kept handing the ball off, his release and mechanics suffered. People noticed.
"I think last year, I got a little bit lazy as the playoffs went on. I was more focused on making the throw and making sure it got there," Schuessler said. "Once I figured out what was going on, it didn't take too long to finish. They didn't want to mess with it as the playoffs were going."
Once the offseason began, Schuessler returned to work on his motion. Grayson brought in long time coach Lex Balazik and it took about a month, but he transformed his motion.
And he earned the trust of his coaches.
"We've been in some tough games where we couldn't really throw the ball and now feel like if we get in a game where we are having trouble running the ball or teams are stacking the box with a goal-line defense we can get the ball out there and put some pressure on the defense," Conn said. "It's something we've never done before."
Grayson even added throwing packages to its offense. The Rams aren't running the spread, but the threat to pass is real. Through their first eight games, Schuessler is 52 of 82 passing for 945 yards with 11 touchdowns and three interceptions.
"We now have a spread shotgun and we can beat teams with tempo or we can line up with power-I and just run it down your throat," Schuessler said. "We have a bunch of athletes on offense that we can do a lot with. It used to be line up and we are going to beat you and run it down your throat and maybe throw a couple of long passes. This year we are real diverse. It's a lot more fun to play in."
Especially for the quarterback who gets to read defenses and think about routes instead of just the right footwork to hand the ball to the correct running back.
At 6-foot-4, Schuessler looks the part of a quarterback and he is embracing the entire role.
"Now that I am varsity, coach Conn always talks about having a leader, both on and off the field. I like having the responsibility falling back on me," he said. "I feel like I can lead people easier in football, that is one of my strengths."
And Schuessler turned himself into one of Grayson's strengths, changing his motion, throwing away from practice, working alone on his dropbacks. Like the Rams he watched transform into winners, he is leading the way for other hopeful Grayson quarterbacks. And he still has the rest of this season to do more.
"It makes us a lot better," Conn said.
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