Jeremy Cannon doesn’t really think of himself as a leader.
Quite simply, the New Albany native pictures himself as a football player, one who will do whatever it takes to help his team win, regardless of how much work or sacrifice is involved.
Perhaps that’s why Northeast Community College head coach Ricky Smither considers Cannon one of the best leaders on his team.
“He is the type of guy who really sets the pace for a football team,” Smither said of Northeast’s sophomore tailback. “When you call a guy a workhorse, you’re usually describing how they run the football. But this guy is a workhorse on the field and off the field. He shows up to work every single day with a work ethic that’s just unreal.”
Cannon’s off-the-field work is evidenced by his on-field performance this season. Through two games, the former New Albany High standout has rushed for 286 yards on 35 attempts, good for 8.2 yards per carry.
Not bad for a guy who checks in at 5-foot-9, 190 pounds.
“When you look at him, he looks like a pure speed guy,” Smither said of Cannon, “and he does have great speed. But he also can run over you with the best of them. He’s got a low center of gravity and he is not afraid of contact whatsoever.”
That straight-ahead, physical approach has earned Cannon the respect of teammates and opponents alike, though he just goes with whatever works.
“I don’t mind putting my head down and trying to run over people,” Cannon said, “but I also like getting away from the hit, too. I’m just trying to get as many yards as possible every time I touch the ball.”
Cannon’s individual progression from a year ago is typical of Northeast’s improvement as a team. As a freshman, Cannon was a starter for a squad that finished the season 1-8, with the lone win coming via forfeit.
This season, Cannon is shouldering the load for a new-look Northeast team that has improved in every facet of the game.
Though winless after two games, the Tigers have the look of a team with the ability to make a little noise in the MACJC’s North Division.
It’s all coming together
It’s just a matter of hard work paying off, according to Cannon.
“Last season, we weren’t really a team, we were just a bunch of individuals,” Cannon said. “In the offseason, we came together as a team and really put the work in to get better. I’m just glad to be a part of it.”
During the offseason, Northeast’s Tigers showed a renewed commitment to football and seemed determined not to let a 1-8 season happen again. And Cannon was right there leading the charge.
“In the offseason, he really led the way,” Smither said. “He put on 18-20 pounds of muscle and became a better football player because of it. I can’t say enough about the guy. He’s one of the best running backs I’ve ever coached.”
For Cannon, the hard work and sacrifice is just part of the job.
“As far as leadership goes, I don’t really know about all that,” Cannon said. “I just believe in showing up and working as hard as possible, and everything will work out. I’m just trying to be the best player that I can be.”
Contact Brandon Walker at 678-1601 or at email@example.com.
ICC @ Northeast
Kickoff: 7 p.m. Thursday
Records: ICC 1-1, Northeast 0-2
Brandon Walker/NEMS Daily Journal