The ultimate compliment to anyone involved in American Football would be “You make your teammates better.” From a playing standpoint, this involves plenty of on and off field communication. That communication is essentially coaching, even though most common people don’t appreciate this without the title. If you read the previous article of the Rojo series, it could be summed up that Robert Johnson aka Rojo is an effective coach. But today I spoke to someone who was taught by Rojo using more than the title of Coach. Teemu Rantanen was kind enough to answer a few questions about learning from Rojo.
More Than A Coach
Teemu Rantanen is a 27 year old receiver and return specialist from Helsinki. When I approached him about answering questions about Rojo, he was more than eager to tell me how instrumental Rojo has been to him. Rantanen was first coached by Rojo last season with the Helsinki Wolverines, but told me “I knew him before he joined the Wolverines through his brother Cedric.” This information was new to me, but explains the high amount of respect and trust in Rojo’s coaching that Rantanen displayed in Wolverines practices this previous off season.
Rojo Teaches the Nuances of the Game
Teemu Rantanen is not new to the game of football, as he has ten years of experience in the sport. Despite a short one year stint with the Helsinki 69ers, Rantanen is a Helsinki Wolverines product from Juniors all the way to the Men’s team. Before being introduced to Rojo’s coaching philosophy, Rantanen stated “Play recognition and catching” as areas of his game that needed improvement. As a receiver those two skills can be the difference between a good and bad receiver. Even though Rojo is known throughout Europe as an elite quarterback, he played under Mike Leach at Texas Tech University as a wide receiver. This gives him a very unique view on the position as both a passer and receiver. He used this overall understanding to help Rantanen improve his abilities in a short period of time. When discussing what areas of his game have been improved by his time with Rojo, Rantanen quickly responded “My route running, play recognition, catching, and overall speed have improved.”
Tough Coaching Gets Results
I have personally witnessed Teemu Rantanen play receiver with the Helsinki Wolverines and originally I thought he had been playing with Rojo for years after watching the way they were in sync about running routes and knowing where the plays would be open against certain defenses. Rantanen contributes a lot of his playing style to Rojo, “He’s got me to a whole new level. Don’t think I could have got contract to Europe without his coaching. He has great tempo in practice and will use the time on the field efficiently.”
It’s no secret that Rojo is what some would call an “aggressive” coach, using tough language to elevate his players. When asking Rantanen about Rojo’s most common phrase, a simple “Catch the Fuckin Ball” seemed all too familiar. As I’m writing this article, I am a few days removed from having him use some similar language on me and my teammates after a particularly sloppy practice. Rantanen confirms Rojo’s aggressive coaching style, ” I Love it, he gets the most out of his players and runs the right drills to get his players better. If you give out the best of you he will get you better. He will make u run if u don’t perform.”
Teemu Rantanen Has Big Plans
Teemu Rantanen is not wasting the time he has to play the great sport of American Football. He is currently playing in the Czech Republic for the Ostrava Steelers where he will compete for a championship run before coming back to Finland to play where he started with the Helsinki Wolverines. I asked Rantanen what are his goals in the future and how he plans to achieve those goals. He replied “I want to play in the highest level possible and win. The first step was to get a contract , and here I am in the Czech Republic. Let’s see what the future holds.” I’d like to wish Teemu the best of luck in his season in Ostrava, and hope he returns to the Helsinki Wolverines ready to continue developing as a top talent player.