Keyser's Gavin Root to continue football career at Frostburg State
By Chapin Jewell
KEYSER - If you’ve watched the Keyser Golden Tornado play football this season or even in recent years, most certainly in short order your attention was drawn to Gavin Root.
It may have been the long hair sticking out of the black helmet. It may have been the number 31 on his jersey, unusual for a quarterback. More important, however, your eyes were drawn to Root because he was a dynamic, high-energy, impact player.
If you liked what you saw, you’ll like the news that Root broke recently when he announced his commitment to continue his football playing and academic careers at nearby Division 2 Frostburg State University.
It’s a short trip up to Frostburg to see Root, other Keyser alumni and local players battling at the next level. In Root’s case, the Bobcats look to use him on the defensive side of the ball at outside linebacker.
“I’ve always wanted to go to Frostburg. It was one of the schools I was really interested in at the beginning of my recruiting. The coaching style is similar to what it was in high school for me, which I feel will help me fit in with everything,” Root stated. “It will also give me a chance to suit up with my old teammates Don (Woodworth) and Jackson (Biser). I will be going to study exercise science and athletic training,”
Gavin Root always seemed to run a little faster, to hit a little harder, to make the biggest plays when his team needed it most. The numbers from his senior year are staggering, particularly for a quarterback in Keyser’s traditional run-heavy offense. Root completed 66 of 107 passes for 1,087 yards and 18 touchdowns against only five interceptions. In addition, the talented signal caller rushed 63 times for 470 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Root directed an incredibly talented cast of characters in the Keyser offense that scored 458 points in nine games, an average of 51 points per game. That 2020 Keyser offense scored 53 or more points in seven of their nine games. A big key to their success was Root’s versatility, being just as dangerous through the air as on the ground.
Keyser coach Derek Stephen has high praise for the type of person and player Root has demonstrated himself to be. From his hard-nosed play on the field, leadership skills, competitive drive, and an increase in maturity to compliment the talent that’s always existed, Stephen details that in Root, Frostburg is getting a quality, impactful, student athlete.
“Frostburg is getting a genuinely good person.That isn’t just coach talk; Gavin is a worker, that is for sure. He is a player that I got to see mature from his freshman year up until now,” Stephen explained.
“The change he has made has been tenfold; the maturation he had not only on the field but in himself is amazing. His work ethic and leadership really showed this year. Frostburg is going to get an all-around good kid.
“As a player, the first thing that comes to mind is hard-nosed. Most people didn’t know, but Gavin played this past year with a broken knuckle on his throwing hand, mind you he was the quarterback, and a broken thumb on his non-throwing hand. With all that, he still was on the field leading the offense,” Stephen detailed.
According to Stephen, “It did force him to miss time on defense, but did he get mad and pout? Nope, he said ok, grudgingly, and went and ran our scout offense to give the defense the best look possible. Despite the fact that he wasn’t able to physically help us on defense, he still found a way to help his team.
“Next, what comes to mind is his competitive nature. He always wanted to compete and get better. It didn’t matter if we were running 10-yard sprints in April or in a shoot-out game with Jefferson, he wanted to win. That will to win is not in everyone; a lot of people only have it when things are going their way,” Stephen explained.
According to Stephen, “The biggest thing in my opinion is the way he matured. He has always had talent; that has been evident by him being on the field since he was a sophomore. However, when it was his time to step up and be a leader on the field, he took it and ran with it.”
While Stephen heaps praise on Root and deservedly so, Root too heaps praise on both the Keyser football program and the school in general for helping prepare him for college football and college academics.
According to Root, “Keyser has definitely prepared me for college in both academics and football. All the teachers have been so helpful with getting me to where I need to be to do well in college. The football program at Keyser has prepared me for the jump more than anything. It has taught me to be tough and hard-nosed against adversity. It hasn’t just taught me about how to be on the field, it has also showed me how to be a responsible and respectful young man.”
Root is also quick to point out that his success on and off the field has not happened in a vacuum, citing the support of friends, teammates, coaches and of course family along his journey.
“My biggest supporters are definitely my family and friends. Jackson Biser, who goes to Frostburg now, has helped me a lot along with his brother Caden. Helping me with everything to how to set up film to how to get my name out there,” Root explained.
According to Root, “My other supporters are the entire current coaching staff at Keyser and also former coach Sean Biser. I feel my biggest supporter though is my Pap. He has always been there for me with all my sporting events growing up. He’d always send me a text on game days telling me that he loved me and to remember to keep my head up. That saying will always stick with me.
“Of course, I couldn’t have gotten here without my mom and dad though. They have raised me to be the best I can possibly be at everything I do,” Root detailed.
The 2020 football season was an usual one for everyone, players, coaches, and fans, due to COVID-19. With Gavin Root at quarterback, however, there was plenty of excitement to go around for the Black and Gold, through the air and on the ground. In leading the potent Golden Tornado offense along with a talented cast surrounding him, Root showed his versality, his talent, and his hard-nosed, competitive nature.
Those traits will serve him well as he continues on at the next level.
Gavin Root is a winner. Everybody wearing Black and Gold already knows that. Frostburg State University is about to find out.