View Full Version : Pittsburgh QB Ben Roethlisberger's San Diego Edge

01-17-2011, 08:26 AM
Pittsburgh QB Ben Roethlisberger's San Diego Edge
Tips from George Whitfield helpd Big Ben's game
By Troy Hirsch • Mon, Jan 17th, 2011

George Whitfield works with Ben Roethlisberger. George Whitfield works with Ben Roethlisberger.
Courtesy photo

Ben Roethlisberger led the Pittsburgh Steelers back to the AFC Championship game after finishing the regular season with a career-low five interceptions.

Roethlisberger threw for 3,200 yards despite starting the season with a four-game suspension.

He stayed sharp with help from San Diego-based, quarterback coach George Whitfield Jr.

But the title "quarterback coach" doesn't really do Whitfield justice.

"I call myself a quarterback builder," Whitfield said.

In September of 2010, Whitfield took his tool belt to Pittsburgh to work with Roethlisberger.

Due to his suspension for violating the league's personal conduct penalty stemming from allegations of a sexual assault, the NFL would not allow the Steelers' quarterback to work out with his teammates. So Roethlisberger called Whitfield, and Whitfield began fine-tuning.

"If he was a Ferarri, we pulled the whole engine. We took out some stuff, added some stuff, and put it all back in," Whitfield said. "Details were the biggest emphasis I brought to Ben. He was going off of ability."

Whitfield worked on where Roethlisberger held the ball, his footwork and his balance. ("you got balance. You become a dangerous person. You follow? " Mick (Burgess Meredith) from Rocky - mesa) ...

Steelers' offensive coordinator Bruce Arians saw the results, telling the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: ″(He's) as good as I've ever been around. He's shortened his delivery. It was a minor thing, just to get it out of his hand faster. It's kind of like a golfer changing his stroke.″

"I've been pretty excited," Whitfield said. "We've been in contact. Even after wins, losses, he'll shoot me a text. 'Hey, did you see the game? Did you see this throw that we worked on? What did you think?' So I'm thrilled to death that he is still excited about it and still cares about how sharp he is."

A former college and Arena League quarterback himself, Whitfield says he started his business five years ago with young quarterbacks, and that's where he still devotes most of his time. Whitfield routinely meets with kids 11 and up on weekends, putting them through drills for two hours.

One of his pupils, Valhalla High School graduate Pete Thomas, just finished his first season as the starting quarterback at Colorado State.

"I think George is one of the best guys out there," Thomas said after a recent workout. "I've been to a lot of quarterback camps, and I've learned the most from George. I think he's one of the best. Doesn't matter your size, arm-strength or whatever. He'll teach you the fundamentals to be a good quarterback."

He even offered to teach a 38 year-old reporter who hadn't played organized football in 20 years.

"Troy, I promise you, and I've never see you throw, and this isn't staged or anything, I could watch you throw and we could do a before and after and within 10 minutes, you'd be a better passer," Whitfield said.

The quarterback builder proceeded to adjust my follow-through so that the tip of my index finger followed the tip of the football and then went straight down.

He also adjusted my left (non-throwing elbow) to come closer to my body and come down with more force to add power to the throw.

Finally, he moved my plant (left) foot a little to the left, to widen my stance and create a better follow-through base.

Just those few tips made all the difference, and Whitfield has the same message to all his quarterbacks big, and small.

"You have to be diligent," Whitfield said. "You need to be diligent. Then with that diligence, if you work, you can pretty much overcome whatever natural setback or weakness."

The Whitfield Academy accepts new students. For more information, visit whitfieldathletix.com.