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Revere happy to be back at Granger Park

By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY

Daily News

To J.R. Revere, it’s more than just a patch of grass.

When Revere steps onto the soft, green turf of Granger Park, he said “it brings back a lot of memories.”

Revere, who was a multi-sport standout at LaGrange High, spent plenty of time at Granger Park when football season rolled around, first as a child, and later as a proud member of the team.

“This is where I literally spent all my summers, all my falls, and when dad was coaching track, all my springs,” said Revere, whose father John Revere was an assistant football coach at LaGrange from 1982 to 1996. “This was my home. There’s something about this place when I come back. There’s a peace I feel, a familiarity. I just remember certain things that happened, and there were a lot of championships won on this field.”

Revere was back at Granger Park last week to lead a quarterback clinic, with close to 10 players participating.

Since retiring from professional sports nearly a decade ago, Revere has turned his attention to coaching, primarily working with young quarterbacks to prepare them for high-school football.

“It’s a means to help kids develop, and accentuate their development, so when they go to their coaches, their coaches don’t have to do as much, and they already understand concepts, they already have a good solid base,” Revere said. “From there, that coach can do whatever he wants to from there. If any of those (coaches), when they get their quarterback, I want them to say let’s just go with the Xs and Os, he’s good. He’s already got the regimen, he knows how to warm up, he knows the fundamentals, he knows the foot work. Let’s go play football.”

Revere brings plenty of quarterbacking expertise to the job.

At LaGrange High, Revere was an all-state quarterback, and he led the team to an 11-1 record as a senior when he had more than 2,000 combined rushing and passing with more than 30 touchdowns.

By the time Revere made it to LaGrange High, he’d already been a part of the program since he was a young child while following his father around.

“I was 6-years-old, and I was desperate to be around my dad,” said Revere, whose younger brother Ben Revere has been a Major League Baseball player since 2010. “I didn’t know what this was all about, I just knew that whenever I came here, I was having a blast. It was the most fun. I had my own locker, I’d run the 100 with them. I was so immersed in it.”

Revere remembers how feared some of LaGrange’s best teams were, including the 1991 squad that went 15-0 and won a national championship.

“When I was growing up and you thought of LaGrange, you shuddered a little bit,” Revere said. “They were petrified, and you could feel it. I could feel that as a player, but certainly as a kid. You could look over there and see they didn’t want any part of this. Then bodies were flying, and as the quarters and halves went along, you could just see them fold, and they were looking for an exit.”

After leaving LaGrange, Revere went to Georgia Southern and became one of the most dangerous and explosive quarterbacks in NCAA Division I-AA, and he helped the Eagles win back-to-back national championships in 1999 and 2000 and finish second in the country in 2001 while spear-heading head coach Paul Johnson’s triple-option offense.

“People didn’t realize how sophisticated that was, and how much he put on the quarterback,” Revere said. “You have no idea how tough that was.”

During his three seasons as Georgia Southern’s starting quarterback, Revere ran for 2,659 yards with 45 touchdowns, and he threw for 3,082 yards with 21 touchdowns.

Excelling in one sport in college is difficult enough, but Revere managed to also play baseball at Georgia Southern and was a four-year starter.

After college Revere had a short stint as a professional baseball player, and when that was done, he put the helmet back on to play football for a living, first in the Canadian Football League, and then as an Arena Football League player.

“A bunch of my college teammates started playing Arena Football, and it was really big at that time,” Revere said. “And they told me I need to this arena thing, and I thought that was bush league. I’m thinking I’m getting all high and mighty, and I’m sitting on the couch not doing anything. I need some income. I got into it, and within a year, I fell in love with it, and I did it for six or seven years. Once you figure out the nuisances of it, it was great. You didn’t run the ball. You threw the ball every single play, and I just fell in love with it. It was a lot of fun, and you get in your 30s, you’re older, and teams fold, and you realize it’s time to move on and do something else.”

For Revere, that something else was teaching young people how to play the quarterback position, although it took him a while to come to terms with the fact that his playing days were behind him.

“There was nothing I wanted to do other than play ball,” Revere said. “I’m 30-years-old, and I’ve got my whole life ahead of me. I can still ball. I can still play.”

Revere soon realized that being a coach gave him another mission in life, and he fully embraced it, ready to follow in his father’s foosteps.

“I wanted to do something that was going to impact people’s lives,” Revere said. “I never thought I could be on the level of my dad. What my dad did was supernatural. It’s crazy how many lives he impacted.”

Revere’s reputation as a quarterback instructor means he’s in high demand, and he’s always happy to return to his hometown to offer his services to whoever is interested.

“The biggest thing I want people to understand, is even though LaGrange High is where my allegiance is, and that’s where my heart bleeds, if a kid from Callaway or Troup wants to get some work in, I’m more than happy,” Revere said.