A first team All-State selection as a junior, Lombardo powered his way to 1276 yards and 19 touchdowns during 2007, yet saw his rushing production dip as a senior because of a broken finger. And while a scholarship offered never materialized from a BCS conference school, the 6-foot-1, 225-pound Lombardo was still named to the Class A All-New York State football team as a linebacker by the New York State Sportswriters Association following his senior year. An aggressive and downhill runner with outstanding speed for his size, Lombardo is also a weight room fanatic who hopes to one day become a Navy SEAL. I caught up with Lombardo recently, and got the scoop on his recruitment and a future plans at the Naval Academy Prep School and beyond.
Adam Nettina (AN): Did you attend the Blue and Gold Game in Annapolis? If so, how was your experience? Have you met any of your future Navy teammates yet?
Rob Lombardo (RL): I went to the Blue and Gold game and it was a great experience to see how the team looked live and in person. The way that the offense uses the fullback is great. I met a lot of my future teammates, but didn't get to speak to them too much; I was with my family for most of the trip.
AN: Take us through your recruitment. Which schools were interested in you, and which ones offered you scholarships. Ultimately, why did you choose to attend the Naval Academy?
RL: My recruitment started back at the end of sophomore year going into the summer of junior year when I was selected to the "Ultimate 100." After junior year and through senior year I was being heavily recruited by a lot of big time D1A Schools. Maryland, Syracuse, Boston College, Temple, Penn State, Rutgers, and Buffalo all came to see me at my high school. And I was able to go to see most of the schools numerous times on recruiting trips, camps, and visits. Fullback is a dying position, so I thought of what schools truly use the fullback and Navy was the first to come to mind. I sent my tape in to Navy, and when they called with the offer I went [to Annapolis] and committed on the trip.
AN: Which position did Navy recruit you primarily for? Is this the position other schools recruited at? Are you open to changing positions once you get to Navy should the need arise?
RL: At Somers I played fullback and linebacker. Navy recruited me as a fullback, similar to most other schools which recruited me as a fullback and running back. There were a few schools who recruited me both ways though. If I was ever asked to switch I would be fine doing that.
AN: How do you think you compare to recent Navy fullbacks? Is there a particular fullback (Ballard, Eckel, Kettani?) who you think you compare most to?
RL: It wouldn't be right for me to compare myself to such great fullbacks. All I can say is that I plan on working hard to be mentioned on that list.
AN: Tell me about your role in Somers' offense. I understand you ran a variation of the option. Is it a similar offense to Navy's, and if so was that a major factor in your commitment?
RL: The role of the fullback in Somers' offense was as the main ball carrier. We ran our offense out of the Wing T formation. My head coach (Coach Dematteo) has been running it for 40 years now. This was another reason why Navy was a perfect fit for me because I would be lined up in the same position as I was in high school
AN: What do you think your greatest attributes are as a runner?
RL: As a runner I would say that my greatest attributes would be my speed for my size and my vision.
AN: I understand you will be attending NAPS before coming to the Academy. What do you hope to gain (both in the classroom and on the football field) from that experience?
RL: In the classroom I hope to prepare myself for the Academy. And as for football I look forward to learning the option offense.
AN: I read in an online article that you are interested in becoming a Navy SEAL after graduation. What is it about becoming a SEAL which attracts you to that particular service selection?
RL: I have always been interested in the military, even before I ever thought of playing football for Navy, and the Navy SEAL's has always been the area of the military that has attracted me the most. I am always looking to push myself.
AN: I understand you're something of a beast in the weight room. What is your training schedule like? What kind of ‘measurables' (40-time, max bench press, squat, etc…) have you recorded in the past?
RL: Training has been a huge part of my life since I was 13 years old. I train with weights four times a week, and I run four times a week. I have been following the Navy Football training booklet but have been adding a lot more lifts of my own. I train in the weight room for an hour and a half every time I lift. And I have been following Navy Football running schedule also running 4 times a week, and have been adding other training to that too - exercises such as sled, hill, ladder, interval training. I also do circuit workouts twice a week. My bench is 405-pounds, and my squat max is 550-pounds. Over the summer (at camps going into senior year) I ran a consistent 4.6, but I hope to be in the 4.5 range for the upcoming season.
AN: Finish the sentence. The one thing Navy fans should know about me is…
RL: Navy Fans should know that I'm a very hard worker and will never quit.
Adam Nettina welcomes reader comments and suggestions. H can be reached at AdamNettina[at]gmail.com.