There is no next year under the Friday Night Lights for Joe Vance. It's now or never; do or die; a must-win situation.
It's a classic sports story: An all-square pre-season quarterback battle between Joe Vance playing the heady senior and the Colin McElroy starring as the big-armed junior. Both played the waiting game in 2009; neither locked down the starting job in the spring. But it's crunch time. And at the end of the day, only one can win out.
Joe Vance is doing everything he can to ensure he is under center come season kick-off, including spending his off-week at the IMG Academy football program taking direction from Heisman Trophy winner Chris Weinke. While his Milton High School (Alpharetta, GA) teammates rest and recuperate for a week, on the contrary, Joe is picking up the intensity, immersing himself in the Academy's GameChanger program.
He knows how critical this year is. After all, that's what brought him here. He got a taste of the camp during kickoff weekend and came back seeking an advantage going into two-a-days. As far as Joe's concerned, it is paying off. "I'm throwing the best I've ever been throwing. I'm a lot more confident. My throwing, accuracy, and footwork are all clicking right now."
Academy Director Chris Weinke and his Arc N' Pace philosophy has been a big part of that. "As far as I'm concerned, arc n' pace is the best way to throw and to teach someone to throw. It's not just one or the other." Weinke also speaks Joe's language. "I really like the way he teaches and the drills he uses to teach us. The one on one is my favorite part of the on-field experience." Off-the-field, Joe really likes the global environment IMG Academy offers. There are athletes from over eighty countries at IMG Academy, in and out all summer long. Joe even got team up with fellow football campers from Italy and France for the week. "From talking to them I learned that football is similar there."
A life-long Seminole fan, Joe is more than familiar with Weinke's Heisman trophy winning background. "My family [members> are big Noles' fans. We go to all the games and share a box. It's been great to learn from him [Coach Weinke>."
When camp concluded, Joe had plans to return to his four-times-a-week off-season team workout, consisting of an hour of running, an hour of lifting, and an hour of 7-on-7. "From here, I need to continually work on the small details, for myself and sharing with I've learned with other positions. I plan to keep working on the drills I've learned and get a few of my receivers to get out and throw to every day."
From now on, Joe Vance will travel everywhere with his A game. But he controls his own destiny. And come August the battle will heat up. His days are intense but hours after the workout he finally finds time to reflect on it all. And that moment in time just after his head hits the pillow but before deep REM sleep takes over; Joe Vance pictures himself under center, taking the first snap of the 2010 season under the Friday Night Lights.