Anthony Boone finds purpose in QB practice after accident ends his playing career ::

Quarterbacking isn’t just a position anymore, it’s a science. The elaborate warm-ups a group of high school and college qbs perform at Herndon Park in Durham on a hot July morning are proof of that.

“Palms facing the sideline,” Anthony Boone tells his students. “If your shoulders are burning, you’re doing it right.”

Boone is a quarterbacks coach for QB Country, a company founded by former Ole Miss quarterback David Morris. Boone typically does his work in the Charlotte area, but he’s traveled across the state to work with athletes in the Triangle area.

“I tell people all the time, you come to me, you try to get better,” Boone said. “If your name is Chris, I’m trying to make you the best Chris I can be.”

Of course, Durham isn’t just a classroom for Boone, it’s where he made his name.

“Being part of this culture change was awesome,” Boone said. “Not a winning tradition when I went there, not a winning tradition in anyone’s thought process in this state.”

Boone played high school football in Weddington, North Carolina and played quarterback at Duke from 2011 to 2014 under David Cutcliffe. He left as the school’s winningest quarterback, leading Duke to an ACC Coastal Division championship in 2013 and three bowling appearances.

“It was a great environment, it was a great thought process,” Boone said. “It was one of those things for me to talk about trusting the process and taking the road less travelled, I’m a big believer in those clichés and mantras.”

Boone’s professional career took a path he never expected. He was undrafted in 2015 and was signed and eventually cut by the Detroit Lions. He then played in the CFL for the Montreal Alouettes. On May 22, 2016, her journey changed forever.

“I was going to practice that Sunday morning,” Boone recalled. “I woke up in an ambulance, my father was there.”

Boone was driving south on SR-1357 in Union County near Weddington. According to the accident report, a car traveling in the opposite direction crossed the center line. The two cars tried to avoid each other and crashed head-on. Boone remembers lying in the hospital trying to figure out why and how.

“Angry, confused, why me?” Boon said. “I didn’t know who the other party was, so I was like, ‘What happened to the other person, is she alive, is she okay?’ “

The other person was Panthers linebacker Shaq Thompson. According to authorities, Thompson had bent down to retrieve his cell phone after dropping it on the floor of the car. He avoided serious injury, but Boone wasn’t so lucky. He fractured his hip, severed ribs and tendons in his hand. He spent six months in a wheelchair and another three using a walker.

“Once I saw how far I had to go and how long it was going to take me, my thoughts changed,” Boone said. “I needed to be as healthy as possible to function every day and probably do something other than play.”

Two months later, Boone and his wife had their first child, adding to Boone’s changed mindset. He took advantage of his new life to focus on a hobby that had formed organically while training.

“It was a sign from God to me,” Boone said. “I was briefly coaching some guys while I was training on the pitch. The local kids were training with me, so I’m just giving little tips here and there.”

QB Country founder David Morris had also played for Cutcliffe at Ole Miss. Morris had helped train Boone for the NFL combine. Boone approached Morris about opening a branch of the company in North Carolina. In recent years, Boone has expanded his client list from middle and high school students to former Duke and UNC stars like Daniel Jones and Sam Howell. He has also worked with and is close friends with Panthers quarterback PJ Walker.

“I’m all about relationship building,” Boone said. “Every kid here, I try to make sure I know their name, know what they’re talking about, know where they’re from. Everyone has a different story. You never know what a little interaction will do to change someone’s path.”

“He’s big on the movement stuff, big on the throwing platform,” Ravenscroft School senior quarterback Kyle Hawkins said. Hawkins has been training with Boone since his sophomore year.

“I love it, I trust him,” Hawkins said. “I’d stake my tail for that man.”

“Off-balance, thrown off the platform, anything that symbolizes an NFL quarterback,” said Kendall McKoy, a redshirt sophomore at Gardner-Webb University. “You have to do all the different types of throwing to the next level. Just molding myself here prepares me for college and the next level.”

NFL stars like Patrick Mahomes changed the game with baseball-style throws, but Boone also makes sure to teach the fundamentals of the pocket.

“You have to be mechanically strong,” Boone said. “It doesn’t matter if you can make the off-platform throws if you can’t make the ones you’re supposed to, it doesn’t matter.”

Boone understands how precious, fleeting opportunities to play quarterback at the highest level are. His mission is to ensure that every athlete who comes to him is able to maximize their potential.

“I had my chance, I think I didn’t take advantage as much as I should,” admitted Boone. “I was young, I had no one to guide me, so I think that’s my goal now.”

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