TERRE HAUTE —
For the previous three seasons, Ryan Landwehr waited patiently.
As the backup quarterback to durable starter Mitch Snyder on Rose-Hulman’s football team the past two seasons, Landwehr rarely appeared in games. As a sophomore in 2012, he completed 1 of 3 passes for 21 yards and no touchdowns. As a junior in 2012, he went 11 for 27 for 130 yards and one TD.
But that didn’t keep him from being attentive to pregame details every week of every season. He also kept learning the playbook and working hard to improve his skills.
“He always prepared like he was going to be the starter,” Rose coach Jeff Sokol noted. “There were close battles for the quarterback spot. We would go into [preseason] camp with a little bit of a question mark if Ryan could win the job. He made it really tough last fall. But Mitch just had a couple physical gifts that allowed him to continue to win the job.”
Fast forward to 2013: Snyder has graduated and Landwehr — now a senior — is finally the starter.
On Saturday at Cook Stadium, the 6-foot-6, 220-pound Landwehr passed for one touchdown and ran up the middle for a tough TD to help the Engineers post a 23-19 homecoming win over Defiance in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference opener for both teams.
It was the first time that Landwehr even played in a Rose-Hulman homecoming game and he made the most of it.
“It’s amazing,” he told the Tribune-Star afterward. “I’m just pumped.”
Landwehr’s stat line from Saturday wasn’t overly impressive — 14 of 25 passes for 139 yards and 10 carries for 28 yards — but he guided the offense on three crucial third-quarter touchdown drives that rallied the team to victory.
“It was the energy,” Landwehr replied when asked to explain the Engineers’ third-quarter surge. “We came out a lot stronger than we did in the first half.”
“Ryan’s the kind of guy that we need to play to his strengths,” Sokol pointed out. “He’s a big, physical kid. He’s really smart. He’s a 4.0 [grade-point average] student. He has a great football IQ. So we need to put him in situations where he can be successful.”
In the third period, Landwehr ran the offense with a nice balance of running and passing, which shouldn’t be a surprise to those who know him well.
Landwehr excels at balance, which is proven by his ability to juggle so many activities during the school year, especially during football season.
In addition to being a 4.0 student majoring in electrical engineering and a starting quarterback, he’s chapter president for Rose’s Phi Gamma Delta fraternity and a member of the institute’s Scuba Club while maintaining a social life that doesn’t require him to be glued to a computer screen.
“It’s tough, especially during the season,” he said, adding that he tries to get eight hours of sleep a night but sometimes settles for six or seven. “We’ve got a lot going on [for football]. We’ve got practices. We’ve got meetings.”
But Landwehr has never had a problem with scheduling since he came to Rose-Hulman in 2010 from Tippecanoe High School in Ohio, where he was a wing-T quarterback.
“I’m not going to say it came easily,” he assessed. “But in high school, I was a three-sport athlete. It’s just a matter of budgeting your time and working hard.”
Sokol said Landwehr’s work ethic sets a good example for the rest of the team.
“He does everything right,” the Engineers’ third-year coach explained. “He raises the level of expectation for everyone on our team because they know he’s going to be in the right places, doing the right thing. With the amount of time he puts in preparing for an opponent and still get all As at Rose-Hulman, no one else has an excuse for not being able to do it.”
Landwehr said he doesn’t have a post-Rose job lined up yet, but he plans to graduate in the winter and may attend graduate school after that.
For now, his focus — or at least part of his multi-activity focus — is on helping the Engineers’ football squad achieve its primary goal of capturing the 2013 HCAC championship.
“Franklin [the defending conference champion] is a good team, but we’ve got our eyes on the prize,” he said. “We’re looking for a conference championship. But it’s a week-by-week thing. We got the win this weekend and now we’re setting our sights on Manchester.”
The Engineers will visit Manchester for their first road HCAC matchup of the season this Saturday.