By Owen Gotimer
Viva Loudoun College Editor
(April 17, 2014) – Woodgrove High School senior Stephen Root is heading south to continue his football career at James Madison University starting in the 2014-2015 school year.
“It’s been driving me crazy these past couple months,” said the 6-foot-5 Root. “I’m glad I finally just get to relax and enjoy the rest of my senior year.”
While committing is a relief for most athletes, with a commitment comes even more work. Root will have to stay in shape to get ready to head to Harrisonburg where he will play for the Division I-AA Dukes’ new head coach Everett Withers.
“Coach Withers is going to bring JMU to another level that I am excited to be a part [of],” Root said. “He is going to make all of us work more than we ever thought was possible, and I can’t wait for it.”
Withers has to push his players this offseason – including Root and Stone Bridge High School senior Richard Xu – to attempt to improve on a 6-6 finish in 2013 including a 3-5 record in the Colonial Athletic Association.
“I will bring the strong work ethic and will to win that coach Skinner has drilled into everyone that plays for him,” said Root who will play on the offensive line at James Madison.
Coach Skinner being Woodgrove High School head coach Mike Skinner led his team to a 9-4 mark last fall before falling, 42-35, in the VHSL 4A North region semifinal on Nov. 29.
The Wolverines will have to overcome a score of graduations this fall as seniors Andrew Harper (CNU), Will Hoffer (Hobart), JJ Jackson (Virginia), Will Koester (McDaniel), Garret Miller (Ashland), Chase Smith (VMI) and Josh Sweet (Cornell) are set to graduate in June.
“Being able to see the entire team grow and mature as a whole over the course of four years has been a wonderful experience,” Root said. “I thank every single person that has been involved in making it happen.”
Born in Leesburg and competing in Purcellville, Root knows about small towns and while enrollment at James Madison should surpass twenty-thousand students this fall, JMU definitely maintains a small town feel.
“JMU has always been one of those schools that I have looked up to as a kid and visited and dreamed about attending,” Root said. “I’ve always wanted to go there even before I knew I would have the opportunity to play for them.”
Owen Gotimer is a graduate of Heritage High School in Leesburg and is currently a sophomore at Syracuse University. Follow Owen on Twitter (@BigO_Gotimer) for up-to-date college signings and news. Contact us if you want Owen to do an article on the college commitment of your favorite local athlete or a story on a Loudoun County graduate playing in college!