A quarterback has to say a lot on the football field. A lot. And fast. That’s no problem for Harrison senior Orlando Westbrook.
“He’s kind of like E.F. Hutton – when he talks, people listen,” said Al Melo, Harrison head coach.
Harrison just wrapped up their first 10-0 regular season in school history. The Panthers, the 5th seed in the 3A state tournament, will play #12 Holy Family Friday night at Veteran’s Memorial Stadium.
It’s when the helmet comes off when his struggles begin.
“Been quite a while but I’m still trying to improve, day by day….”
Orlando has a speech impediment, he stutters when speaking simple words and phrases that many never think twice about.
“And the problem is, like, I can’t pinpoint specifically what get’s me stuck… I’m trying but it’s kind of tough,” he said.
He’s been taking speech classes since the 8th grade and he’s steadily improved every year. But there have been moments when the stutter pops up. It’s a call here and there but the Harrison coaching staff has adapted with him.
“One call I can’t say is Omaha. I can’t do that one, so…
Reporter: So Omaha is in the playbook but you can’t say it?
“So we changed it to hot. That comes out smooth; hot, hot, hot!”
“It’s something that he has never let get in his way,” Melo said. “His confidence has grown through it where it’s almost non-existent.”
And when the helmet comes on, the stutter basically stops and Orlando lights it up for the Panthers. He’s thrown for 2,086 yards, 16 touchdowns and only one interception. He’s also rushed for 630 yards and 15 scores.
“He’s gone from being an athlete that plays quarterback to a quarterback that’s a really good athlete,” Melo said. He’s matured in his decision making and he’s improved in his arm talent a bunch. His football IQ is off the charts.”
“I trained with Jenkins Elite so that took me from, like, a Division II player to a Division 1 player up top, (pointing to his head),” Orlando said.
“Studying the game is the part that I didn’t do and what I saw you needed to do to be a great QB.”
On Friday night, don’t expect any miscommunication on the field.