Listen intently to Virginia quarterback Greyson Lambert and you’ll soon learn why he was voted by his teammates as one of the Cavaliers’ captains for this fall. Players know.
Maybe it goes back to his high school days in Jesup, Ga., those popular “Spaghetti Thursdays,” when his mom, Melony, would cook up a bunch of pasta for the Wayne County football team and have everybody over to the house. The team would watch film of the next night’s opponents and just hang out. It was a good but fun way to create team chemistry, yet keep everyone loose but focused.
Melony isn’t going to drive up to Charlottesville every Thursday this year, but Greyson hopes to use the same strategy to help bring the Cavaliers even closer together.
“I was talking with Zach [Swanson, his roommate] about maybe having some cookouts at our house and build team camaraderie,” Lambert said after last Saturday’s spring game, in which he appeared to have established himself as the frontrunner for Virginia’s starting job.
It was Lambert who organized the team’s 7-on-7 scripts last summer and had everyone run through the team’s new plays. Even as a redshirt freshman (last summer), he would talk with UVa’s offensive coordinator to keep that going.
Of course, a few cookouts aren’t going to turn this 2-10 Virginia team, winless in the ACC last season, into contenders. But it’s a start.
After chatting with Lambert last Saturday, we began to wonder if he just might be to Virginia football what Joe Harris was to Cavalier basketball. Both have strong leadership qualities, both have game, both are considered dreamboats by the female population on campus, and both have strong faith but don’t beat you over the head with it.
However, ask either Harris or Lambert about their faith and they won’t hesitate to tell you what it means to them. When asked where his sense of leadership and confidence came from, Lambert readily credited that faith.
“Honestly it came from my faith in God and preparing and trusting that he has a plan for me,” Lambert said. “I feel like last year I put too much pressure on myself to try not to fail instead of trying to succeed. God’s got my back.
“It’s all about a sense of unselfishness,” the redshirt sophomore explained. “I wanted to not fail. I wanted to succeed so badly that it caused me to fail. Instead of trying to push the other guys and putting all my strength and energy into encouraging and doing whatever I could do to help the team, I focused too much on me.”
This spring, Lambert has been pushing David Watford and Matt Johns, just as hard as they have pushed him to succeed.
While most of Wahoo Nation is familiar with Watford, the incumbent starter, they may not know that much about Lambert.
He is a true Southern boy, has that look of an Alabama, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina quarterback, down to the haircut. He has a good sense of humor including poking fun at himself on occasion. He’s loyal to a fault.
Lambert could have signed with Alabama or Georgia, his other two favorites other than Virginia. He also had offers from South Carolina, Miami, Clemson, 15 in all. He liked UVa’s academics. He also liked then-offensive coordinator Bill Lazor, who has since become offensive coordinator of the Miami Dolphins.
Actually, after sitting down and watching film with Lazor on his official visit to Virginia, Lambert actually wanted to commit on the ride home. At his dad’s advice, he waited a week to make sure and followed his heart to Charlottesville.
The kid throws rockets. Consistency is the key and an 18-for-31 performance in the spring game for 220 yards and two TDs, two interceptions, showed that he still has a ways to go.
Lambert was almost apologetic to media in the post-game chat.
“First and foremost, I don’t want anybody to think that today is how our whole spring has been,” Lambert explained. “We saved our worst for last.”
Teammate Connor Davis summed it up best at halftime Saturday when he told the whole team in the locker room that no words needed to be said.
“Connor said, ‘we know this isn’t how we play, so let’s just come back and have a whole new ball game,’” Lambert said.
That’s what they offense did to some degree, but not enough to change skeptics opinions of the overall offensive performance.
Lambert’s spring was better than last year’s and he has noticeably matured in so many ways, something he had to do if he was going to be one of the team leaders.
“I’ve tried to be a little more vocal,” the QB said. “I’ve tried to have one-on-one conversations with the guys, having to talk in front of the whole team, just wanting them to know that I’m here for them. That whole sense of togetherness is what we’ve tried to have the entire spring.”
Being that vocal didn’t come easy either.
“I’ve always been a little scared to get in front of people and talk, so this right here [surrounded by media] is not very comfortable for me,” Lambert grinned.
He handled it well. If he was nervous, none of us could detect any jitters.
The togetherness thing was intriguing though. It was evident that Lambert had watched how successful Virginia’s basketball team was by being selfless. Maybe, just maybe, it could work on the gridiron as well.
“You can see the basketball team … how they were very unselfish. All they do is play together and the team is basically what they’re all about,” Lambert said. “So we’re trying to maybe steal that from them.”
Doesn’t all this remind you of Joe Harris?
Joey Buckets. Greyson Football. Doesn’t have the same ring. We’ll have to work on that a bit.
Meanwhile, Lambert is hoping to get stronger and maybe just a tad faster in the months leading up to the season. He plays on working a lot in the weight room, the film room, and throwing passes almost daily with roommates Swanson and Miles Gooch.
Oh, and yeah, there’s those spaghetti nights or cookouts, or whatever they turn out to be. Those will be good for the soul.