Athlete to watch: QB Orlando Hernandez

Sophomore quarterback Orlando Hernandez scans the field for a receiver at a game on Saturday, Sept. 10. (Photo by Kivin Woods)

Sophomore quarterback Orlando Hernandez leads the Bluejays football team with offensive decision-making and ability. In a mere three games he has been named the CCIW Offensive Player of the Week for the week of Sept. 19, exemplifying his ability to be the offensive leader his team needs on the field.

A football quarterback must be quick, precise, and sturdy on his feet. He is the offensive mastermind, so to speak, on the field. If a team wants to score, it will do so through the quarterback more often than not. He must be able to see it all, think through it all and get the ball to it’s destination on every play with confidence, accuracy and power.

Proving that he can fulfill this role despite his youth, Hernandez had a game spectators will not forget for a while when he and his team welcomed North Park College to Langhorst Field in the CCIW opener on Sept. 17, also acting as the home-opener for the team.

He threw four touchdown passes in three quarters of play, throwing 50 percent for the game. He was also able to get away from the opponent’s defensive line and carry the ball 13 times, earning 62 rushing yards for the game.

Utilizing 255 in-game plays so far in the season, Hernandez and the team have been able to gain 1,084 yards against opponents. The team is averaging about 270 yards per game and currently places eighth in total offense overall.

Individually, Hernandez has been able to place seventh in the conference in total rushing yards and sixth in total passing yards. He attributes this to the power and skill of his offensive line.

“I’d like to consider myself a dual-threat QB, meaning I can both run and throw the ball effectively,” he said “My offensive line deserves much of the credit for that.”

As a sophomore, Hernandez has already been able to blow his freshman year stats out of the water. In the 2014-2015 season he was a backup player. He played in five games and started in four of them, which were the last of the season. He was able to pass for 164 yards and rush for 146 yards on 46 carries.

“I backed up three quarter- backs for most of the season, due to injury. When I was finally healthy again, I got the opportunity to [start] the last four games. My experience back in high school taught me how to fight through adversity and to keep pushing when times get tough,” he said.

In the four games that he’s started in the 2015-2016 season, he has already been able to pass for 604 yards and in 51 carries he’s gained 295 yards for his team, leading the entire offensive team in rushing yards, as a quarterback.

Hernandez also admits that another vital part of his success as a student, a player, and a leader is the support behind him.

“I have a large support system. I know that every coach on the team and all my team- mates believe in me, which gives me a boost of confidence in my ability,” he said. “My family especially plays a large role in my support system. My parents make it to every game, and my grandparents come to every home game from Indiana. They are all my backbone.”

All athletes at EC are held to and expected to achieve or exceed a standard. Academics are a huge part of any athletic team, and failure to maintain the standard will result in less or even no time on the field.

“Academically, I have been able to achieve the standard by managing my time most effectively. We do not have any football related activities scheduled on Mondays, and this is when I usually get all my school work done,” Hernandez shared.

In the next two years up to graduation, he hopes to do two things with the help of his supporters and his teammates.

“Before I leave I want to leave a standard of excellence here at Elmhurst. A standard that future players will follow to prove that we are elite, and [we strive to be] unmatched,” he said. “I want everyone to know that the Elmhurst Bluejays run an elite program and we are no team to be overlooked,” he said.

So far, he has done well in showing his teammates, his family and the fans of the EC Football program that as long as he is here, he will lead by example.