Buchanan earns his stripes; Eagle’s leadership, tenacity, inspires teammates
By Gideon Rubin
When asked his idea of a football player with great leadership qualities, Santa Fe Christian’s Andrew Buchanan cited former Chargers and current New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees.
“To me, the great leader is the guy who leaves it all on the field but then he doesn’t talk about it after the game,” said Buchanan, an incoming senior linebacker/quarterback.
“He’s just subtle, he talks about how it’s a combined team effort and he doesn’t gloat.”
When asked the same question, incoming SFC running back/defensive back Jarrod Watson-Lewis cited Andrew Buchanan.
“Motivational,” Watson-Lewis said of Buchanan. “Inspirational, really.”
In recent months, Buchanan has earned his stripes as an inspirational leader after rejoining his team for spring workouts just weeks after experiencing potentially life-threatening complications from a knee surgery in April.
Buchanan suffered a severed artery during the procedure and a related blood clot a few days later.
Undeterred, Buchanan has resumed football-related activities, participating in spring weight-lifting and running drills while wearing a surgically installed metal brace on his knee that weighs more than two pounds.
“When we’re in our workouts and doing a lot of hard work some people get discouraged, like ‘I don’t know if I can do this anymore,’ ” Watson-Lewis said. “Then you think about that injury, it’s beyond what anyone can imagine.
“It just makes you feel like, OK, I should be pushing harder. It makes (practices) easier.”
Buchanan has prided himself for pushing harder since long before the injury in just about every endeavor he’s pursued.
Buchanan, who also plays on the volleyball team, has maintained an off-the-charts 4.67 GPA at SFC. He plans to major in mechanical or chemical engineering at UCLA, UC Berkeley, or Cal Poly (San Luis Obispo).
“I’ve always grown up trying to push myself to do the best I can in school, and that carried over into when I started playing sports,” Buchanan said. “I just treat everything as a competition, whether it’s sports or school.”
Buchanan played football on a bum knee his junior year, splitting time between the varsity and junior varsity. He suffered the injury doing quick start-and-stop sprints called “suicides.”
“My body went one way and the knee didn’t come with it,” he said of the injury. “It just kind of stuck in the turf.”
The injury left him with a torn MCL and damaged growth plate. What was supposed to be a two-day procedure left him in the intensive care unit for nine days.
Buchanan was about four days into his hospital stay when he learned of the complications.
“I was on so much pain medication it didn’t really hit me what happened,” Buchanan said.
Buchanan said the hardest part of the injury was missing out on activities for several months. He had to sit out all of his junior volleyball season, and his football activities have been restricted.
He’s expected to have his brace surgically removed in late July, and will be able to participate in limited activities a week after that. He’ll be able to participate in full contact drills by mid-August. He expects to make a complete recovery.
“I can’t do everything, but I’m doing everything I can, trying to be a team leader for my teammates,” Buchanan said.
It’s a role he relishes.
“I just want to show them that nothing’s going to slow me down,” Buchanan said. “I’m trying to do the most that I can through my actions to show (the younger players) that I have a good work ethic so they can model it after mine.”
And through his example, Buchanan has given the Eagles leadership they can trust.
“It shows that he’s fearless, he’s just a fighter,” Watson-Lewis said. “When things are going wrong during a game you just look over at (Buchanan) and you know everything’s going to be OK. You know he’ll always be there for you.”
Buchanan, a 5-foot-10, 170-pounder with below average speed, strength and size, more than makes up for what he lacks in tangible tools with a passion for the game and energetic playing style that rubs off on teammates.
He’s projected to be the team’s backup quarterback, but could start at middle linebacker, Eagles coach Nick Ruscetta said.
“He’s one of those kids where if you had 11 of them on your team you’d probably never lose a game,” Ruscetta said. “Kids who don’t think they can play sports can look at him and say ‘if he can do it, anybody can do it.’ ”
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