Sticking out on his own

Senior midfielder stealing spotlight from celebrated parents

Loyola's Joe Landry

May 03, 2008|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,Sun reporter

Joe Landry, one of the tallest players on the Loyola men's lacrosse team, is still getting comfortable with his height.

At 6 feet 4, the senior midfielder is just 2 inches shorter than junior attackman Jake Willcox. But Landry acknowledges that he wasn't always so fortunate.

As a freshman at Brother Rice Academy in Michigan, Landry tried out for the football team as a 4-10 quarterback. The coaching staff hinted that he wouldn't get much playing time the next season and suggested concentrating on another sport.

After making the varsity lacrosse team that spring, Landry had grown 12 inches and his shoe size jumped from 8 to 12.

"I'm always telling my girlfriend, `Hey, I'm still getting used to this height,' " Landry said.

Landry's familiarity with Baltimore is more stable but figures to be short-lived as Landry joins 10 other Greyhounds for Senior Day before today's regular-season finale against No. 5 Johns Hopkins (7-5) at Diane Geppi-Aikens Field. Like the Blue Jays, No. 13 Loyola (7-5) is jockeying for seeding positioning in the NCAA tournament.

Landry, who is majoring in communications, said the plan after graduation is to go to New York City, find a job, and be close to his girlfriend and his older sister. His second option is to remain in Baltimore.

Landry's connection to Baltimore precedes his birth 23 years ago. His father, Greg, played quarterback for the Colts (1979-1981) and two other NFL franchises, the Detroit Lions (1968-1978) and the Chicago Bears (1984).

Greg Landry, a sales representative for an auto dealer in Michigan, still has fond memories of his time living across from Loyola High and reveling with the Colts Corrals.

"When Joe was looking at Loyola College, I said, `Well, as far as cities go, there isn't a better city in the country as far as following sports,' " he recalled. "We really got to know a lot of the people in the Baltimore area, and it's just a special place in our hearts because of the quality of people."

Greg Landry, who ranks third in career passing yards and second in touchdown throws with the Lions, said he remains close with former Colts safety Bruce Laird and recently traded stories with former defensive lineman Joe Ehrmann, whose son Barney plays for Georgetown.

Joe Landry said he was swayed by his father's stories of Baltimore and chose Loyola over schools such as Virginia and Duke.

"He can always recall the Colts Corrals and the passion the city had for football," Joe Landry said. "That's one of the reasons why I came here, because they were just so high on the place and the atmosphere and the weather and the people."

The running gag in the Landry family is that Greg Landry isn't even the best athlete. Jeannine Landry, Joe's mother, is the former Jeannine Burger, who was a four-time All-America gymnast at Massachusetts, led the team to the 1973 national title and became the first woman inducted into the school's Athletic Hall of Fame.

"Joe was telling the story that when Loyola played UMass [on March 22], it was on TV, and [the commentators] spoke a lot more about Jeannine than they did about me," Greg Landry said with a chuckle.

Joe Landry said he and his four siblings get a kick out of watching people react when they see Greg Landry.

"It's interesting when you're going to games and people still recognize him and are saying, `That's Greg Landry,' " Joe Landry said. "My dad's totally oblivious to that stuff, but me, my brother and my three sisters just find it hilarious because he's the guy that used to come to T-ball games, graduations, parent-teacher conferences. You think these athletes lead different lives, but when you get down to it, they're just normal people."

Today's spotlight will be on Joe Landry, who enters the game with 14 career goals and four assists. That's appropriate, according to his father, who said he fields phone calls from fathers of lacrosse players in Michigan.

"They see Joe on TV, and they talk about him," Greg Landry said. "For Michigan, he's one of the athletes who have been able to play with the athletes on the East Coast. I'm very proud of him."

edward.lee@baltsun.com

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