ESPN analyst and former FSU quarterback Danny Kanell was kind enough to take time out for a Q&A with Tomahawk Nation. Kanell played football and baseball during his time at Florida State, so he provided a little insight into the life of a two-sport athlete, as well as his thoughts on the 2014 FSU baseball club and its post-season capabilities.
Tomahawk Nation: What are some of the challenges below the surface that come along with being a two-sport athlete?
Danny Kanell: I think the most obvious challenge is time management. Playing one major college sport is like a full time job so double that duty along with a full academic workload and you can imagine it gets pretty tough! It also takes two very understanding coaches who are willing to compromise certain things they normally would never allow. Three way communication between the player and both coaches is the key to making it work.
Tomahawk Nation: You played baseball your freshman and sophomore years, can look back on it now and imagine continuing baseball once you became the starting quarterback?
Danny Kanell: Wow, it would have been really tough. But it also would have been a ton of fun. I loved being busy and competing all year long. Football is great but it can also be one long grind for a lot of guys. Playing baseball was an escape to a completely different atmosphere. It's much more relaxed and laid back whereas football, especially in today's college football world, is so pressurized and scrutinized. That change of pace can really be helpful and make you appreciate the positive aspects of both sports.
Tomahawk Nation: How different is the throwing motion between a pitcher and a quarterback and how difficult was it juggling between the two?
Danny Kanell: They are completely different. The football throwing motion is much more of a total body motion. It utilizes more core strength as well as more shoulder and total arm strength. The baseball motion is much more unnatural and puts a tremendous amount of stress directly on the elbow. It was interesting because I could throw footballs all day long and my arm would never get sore. It would get tired but never felt achy. When throwing a baseball on the other hand I could definitely tell when I was close to the limit and needed to shut it down. and then the recovery process was much slower. A baseball pitcher needs 3 or 4 days rest after throwing 100 plus pitches where as a quarterback could use a lighter practice to rest up but typically isn't at any risk with little or no off days during the season.
It was not too difficult bouncing back and forth -- it only took a couple of weeks before everything all came back and felt "normal" again when going from football to baseball and vice versa.
Tomahawk Nation: It must have been great playing for two the greatest coaches of all time in their respective sports. Can you give us your favorite Mike Martin story or quote?
Danny Kanell: I feel extremely blessed to have played under two great coaches. The best part of both of them was not only were they exceptional coaches but both were great men of character and faith.
My favorite Mike Martin story...well let's be honest, I was mostly a bench warmer during my two years on the baseball team. It was tough breaking in that lineup trying to play first base behind Doug Mientkiewicz! So most of my opportunities came as a pinch hitter late in games. I would hear Eleven say "Danny grab a bat" and I would hustle to get warmed up and take a few swings. One of those times came at NC State in the 9th inning as we were getting no hit by Terry Harvey. He was unreal that day. There's one out and I get the "grab a bat" call and I'm ready to go. Eleven pulls me aside and says "break this one up for us will ya?! One swing and his no hitter is gone" So, I'm all fired up as I head to the plate. I just knew I would end the no hit bid. But a fast ball and two sliders in the dirt later and I was back on the bench!! Even though it didn't work that day in my situation, Eleven always offered up words of encouragement no matter what the circumstance and most of the time they worked out for the best. He had a great ability to get his players to believe in themselves and bring out their best.
Tomahawk Nation: Do you see anything different with this year's Florida State team, and what do you feel is most important for a return trip to Omaha and winning their first College World Series?
Danny Kanell: Sometimes winning is contagious. It can even crossover into various sports. You saw it happen at Florida when they were winning football and basketball championships in the same year. Call it the Jameis Winston effect or whatever you want but these guys have seen the football team have success and I think there is a sincere belief from within that clubhouse that this could be the year for the Noles to get that elusive championship. I know some Seminole baseball fans get tired of getting so close (21 trips to Omaha!) and coming up short but they truly are knocking on the door. With one of the best hitters in the game in DJ Stewart combined with great pitching from Luke Weaver and Mike Compton plus a really deep bullpen (which is exactly what you need in college baseball postseason play) this really could be the year the Seminoles break through.
Special thanks to Danny Kanell for taking time out of his busy schedule to talk with Tomahawk Nation, providing some very insightful answers.