BOONE — Eli Drinkwitz appeared at the Harvest House on Thursday to talk about leadership.

He referenced mirror neurons (more on that later). He quoted former Secretary of State Colin Powell (more on that too). He joked about his speech being too long. He marveled at the small-town nature of Boone and how strangers knew when he had his air conditioning fixed.

The first-year football coach at Appalachian State served as the keynote speaker at the Watauga Leadership Challenge Alumni Dinner, an event put on by the Boone Area Chamber of Commerce.

Drinkwitz used football as a lens to reference the greatest leaders he’s ever worked with to those in attendance. Not surprisingly for the offensive-minded coach, those players were quarterbacks, like current Carolina Panthers starter Cam Newton. Through his coaching career, he's learned that measurables don’t matter when it comes to leading a football team.

“When we talk about quarterback play, we don’t talk about height and speed,” said Drinkwitz, who spent the last three seasons as the offensive coordinator at N.C. State. “Leaders come in all sizes. Quarterbacks come in all sizes, they come in all shapes, they come with all different talents.”

Drinkwitz said he’s found five common traits great quarterbacks and, in turn, great leaders possess. He shared those with the folks in the Harvest House on Friday night. Here are the characteristics Drinkwitz’s looks at when recruiting a player, hiring an assistant and even evaluating himself.

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