Each week, BRSN sits down for a Q & A session with...
Athlete of the Week Q & A: Rob Pannullo
Each Tuesday, BRSN sits down for a Q & A session with the BRSN Athlete of the Week. This week, we caught up with our third Athlete of the Week sophomore Sprint Football quarterback Rob Pannullo following his strong performance leading the Big Red to a 38-21 victory over Mansfield in their final game of the season.
BRSN: Rob thanks for the time and congrats on a strong finish to your sophomore season. You had 266 total yards on Friday, almost a perfect 50/50 split between pass and run. What was working for you that allowed you both run and pass so effectively against Mansfield?
RP: We played a really sound game all around this week. We were clicking on all cylinders, and that success starts up front. The offensive line was the anchor of our team this year and they opened both the running and passing game for us on Friday. They were the key to our running the ball successfully, and in the pass game they didn’t allow a sack. That really changes the game, and with some schemes Coach Kreydt (our offensive coordinator) drew up, we were in a great position to get the ball to some of our play makers like Kevin Nathanson, Ben Herrera, Rob Hendricks and Trevor Marrero.
BRSN: Your sophomore season with the Big Red is in the books and you really made name for yourself. You combined for over a 1,000 yards of offense leading your team in passing yards and were second in overall rushing yards. What do you think led to this kind of breakout year for you?
RP: I worked very hard in the off-season both physically and mentally. I worked out hard and watched a lot of film, which are things I’ll need to continue doing this off season. As a team we improved from last year to this year, and I think a lot of that success comes from them. We were young as a team last year and grew into our own this year. We lose a few key players next year–Chris Sitko, Eric Stazi, Bennett Winters, Greg Zalevski, Jon Roth and Noah Shepherd, but we return most of our other key players next year. So the chemistry we built this year as a team I think will carry us into next year too.
BRSN: How would you describe your approach as a quarterback?
RP: I wouldn’t really consider my approach as a quarterback traditional, which is something I’ve had to adjust since arriving to college. Prior to this year I really was looking to run first at quarterback, but that doesn’t work as well at the college level. I still love to run the ball and I look for contact when I do, but I’ve changed my mindset as a quarterback to try to get the ball in the hands of our other play makers and let them do what they do best. I’ve been able to use my athleticism a little bit to scramble when the play breaks down and then look for receivers down field rather than look to run it. Getting them the ball at the right times is something I’m still working on, but this year’s experience definitely helped me in that development as a quarterback.
BRSN: With some time to reflect on this season, what are some of your goals for the off season to continue improving for your junior season?
RP: Having some time to reflect will give me a chance to look at what went well and we could have done better this year. We certainly had some flashes of excellence, but consistency is something we need to improve on for next year. We proved we can play with everyone in the league, but we have to do it consistently. I think that starts with limiting turnovers on my part. There were a few games that were close and I got careless with the football. which really affected the outcome of the games. Those were tough pills to swallow, but they were useful learning experiences moving into next year. Our defense already does such a great job, and its important to capitalize when they play well rather than put them in tough situations. I think the future is very bright for us as a team. I’d like to come away with a league championship over the next two years, and I think we can do it.
BRSN: With two seasons in books, what has been your favorite part about playing sprint football at Cornell?
RP: I don’t have a single favorite part about playing sprint football; I really love everything about the experience I’ve gotten here. Whether its having the opportunity to play football for another 4 years after high school, pigging out with the team after weigh-ins, going to the coaches’ office to hang out and listen to Coach Cullen’s stories, or playing against the alumni for the alumni game, I can’t speak highly enough of my experience with Sprint and I’m so grateful to have the opportunity to be playing the game I love at such at Cornell.
BRSN: Outside of playing football, what are some of your hobbies or other areas of interest?
RP: Outside of football I’m involved in a few organizations on campus. I’m in a fraternity, in the ILR Sports Business Society, as well as the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. I love to hang out with my friends and family, and ultimately I’d like to work in sports down the road, ideally for the NFL.
BRSN: As a relatively new name in the Cornell Athletics community, what is one thing you’d like people to know about you?
RP: I’d just like people to know I’m a hard working person in everything I set my mind to. Work always comes first, but at the end of the day, what I’ll remember most are the experiences I’ve had and the friends I’ve made, so I’m trying to enjoy the short time I have here to the fullest.
BRSN: Thanks a lot for your time Rob, and congratulations!
RP: Thanks again, I really appreciate it.