At this time next year, Quincy Crittendon will be a freshman at Austin High School in Decatur, Alabama. With an eye to the future, the eighth grader has set his football goals extremely high.
“I’m already looking forward to my freshman year,” Crittendon said. “I’ll be looking forward to playing varsity.”
Living in a state that is crazy about its football, Crittendon isn’t just dreaming about playing varsity for a Black Bears team that is an impressive 17-6 over the past two years. This season, he has shown advanced talent at quarterback.
The starting eighth grade QB for his Cedar Ridge Middle School team, Crittendon led the Black Bears to a 7-1 record and the Tennessee Valley state championship.
“I was overwhelmed with joy,” he said of the successful season. “We had some great wide receivers and running backs, a great offensive line. We also had a lot of great defensive players who always were making big plays.”
Heading into the season, Crittendon said his personal goal was to throw 30 touchdown passes, a staggering total. He finished with 20.
“I think I did pretty good,” Crittendon said. “I was really happy with the way I delivered the ball and making it to the championship game. Heading into season, the team goal was to make it to the championship game and win it. Personally, I wanted to throw 30 touchdown passes and be the best leader possible. I’m pretty happy but I think I have room to improve even more. I can get better reading coverages and I can get better with my gap escapes.”
Every quarterback can improve, be it on the NFL level or in eighth grade. But Crittendon showed he already has impressive skills by finishing third in the Duel, NFA’s high-profile competition held every July.
“My goal was finishing in first place,” he said. “But I was happy with how I did and where I finished. I had coach Kraig Campbell work with me and he really helped me get ready for the competition.”
This was Crittendon’s second Duel invitation. He finished sixth on his first trip to Paul Brown Tiger Stadium in Massillon, Ohio. “This time, I felt better throwing the ball and hitting my targets,” he said. “I was more comfortable and I was able to compete like I know I can.”
With his eighth grade season in the record books, Crittendon has moved into basketball season. He is a prolific point guard and shooting guard, but football has always come first. “Football has always been my favorite because I like to play quarterback and lead my team,” he said. “And I really like to throw the ball.”
While basketball helps keep Crittendon in shape for football, he lifts weights throughout the year to prepare for the contact. He’s also been training with NFA the past two years.
“NFA has helped me a lot,” Crittendon said. “They’ve helped me with my throwing mechanics and my technique. I’ve become a better passer and they’ve also helped me become more confident and be a better leader.”
The success started in July, when Noah Gillon attended his first Duel and finished second among incoming fifth graders. He’s continued to ride the impressive wave into September.
Playing football in his hometown of Tupelo, Mississippi, Gillon has helped the Eagles roar out to a 3-0 start. “I am most excited that we are 3-0,” the 10-year-old quarterback said. “Each week I gain more confidence and look to get better. Our team goal is to win the Super Bowl. We won it last year and want to win again. My personal goals are to get to know my teammates better, to improve my throwing accuracy, to get stronger and to learn how to read more defenses. ”
That is an extensive to-do list, but Gillon knows how to get things accomplished on the football field. While guiding the Eagles to lofty heights last season, he passed for 850 yards and 15 touchdowns in just eight games and also rushed for 660 yards and 11 more scores.
Through three games this season, Gillon has connected on 24 of 33 passes for 338 yards and 6 TDs while running for 102 yards and 2 scores. He’s also caught a 64-yard touchdown pass.
Home at QB
Gillon has already established himself as a player that can excel at multiple positions, but he is most comfortable at quarterback. “I’ve been playing tackle football for four years and I’ve been playing quarterback for three years,” he said. “I love playing QB because you get to control the offense and I am involved in every play.”
Gillon seems to get better with each play. “I think my strengths are throwing the short pass accurately, and I’m calm under pressure,” he said.
Even though he’s had so much early success, Gillon isn’t satisfied. “This year, I am working on my footwork,” he said. “I’m also trying to get better at throwing the deep ball, reading defenses, and I’m working to get stronger.”
Gillon has been attending NFA camps for three years, and he credits the training for allowing him to grow as a quarterback. “NFA has helped me a lot,” Gillon said. “They’ve helped me with play fakes, my footwork in the pocket, throwing mechanics, gap escapes, throwing accuracy and much more.”
All of those skills were put to the test when Gillon headed to the Duel. An obvious competitor, he traveled to Massillon, Ohio with one thing on his mind.
“My goal heading into the Duel was to win and do my best,” Gillon said. “Honestly, I wanted to do better. But I enjoyed the chance to compete with kids my age from all over the USA.”
Almost winning still sent Gillon into his current season on a high note. “The Duel gave me confidence and made me feel like I could go home and compete,” he said. “I would like to thank NFA and Coach (Darin) Slack for teaching me how to be a good leader on and off the field.”
How to get recruited
When you watch a college football game now days, it looks much the same as it did a decade or two ago. The players are bigger and faster, but the collegiate game goes rolling along.
Getting to State U., however, has changed. Specifically, the recruiting process has become almost as difficult as converting on third down-and-20. Let’s say you’re currently a budding high school talent and you play quarterback. How do you get from Point A – high school – to Point B – the college ranks?
It can be a path paved with peril and pitfalls, especially with the explosion of the Internet. Now days, just about anyone with a laptop, login and password can try coming across as a recruiting expert.
“The media tends to make things way more blown out of proportion than they really are,” said Will Hewlett, NFA’s Lead Coach and Director of Player Development. “There’s a frenzy over maybe one, two, three kids. And with Twitter, it’s in these kids’ face 24 hours a day.”
Hewlett has trained over 50 quarterbacks that have gone on to play college football, and many more – Brandon McIlwain, Tommy Stevens, Matt Jimison, Mitch Guadagni, Ian Book – are well on the way. While he prefers training quarterbacks to reach the next level, Hewlett has seen it all as the recruiting game has evolved.
He has a message for young athletes that are driven to play college football. “You have to make sure as a quarterback, as an athlete, you’re developing yourself to perform on Friday night,” Hewlett said. “Your only competition as a football player, as a quarterback, is Friday night when you’re in high school.”
That means young football players should be concentrating on the here and now instead of surfing the net to see which peers in pads are hot and which are not. Certain athletes might be ordained the next great things by one of the massive list of exposure camps and Internet recruiting sites, but all of the gaudy compliments, rankings and retweets actually mean very little.
Film is vital
According to Hewlett, putting together the strongest game film you can – and updating it every week during the season – is still the best way to get recruited. By far.
“With exposure camps, as an example, they can help generate an element of buzz and excitement around an athlete,” Hewlett said. “It’s a good, competitive atmosphere to help prepare yourself but the only people that give out scholarships are the colleges. Understand who you’re trying to impress. It can be beneficial, but it doesn’t equal scholarships unless you have the film.”
Brandon McIlwain is a perfect example on the importance of putting good game film together and staying on top if it. The Class of 2016 standout quarterback from Council Rock North High School in Pennsylvania and six-year NFA veteran already has 15 offers from BCS schools, including Auburn, Ohio State, Florida, Michigan State, South Carolina and UCLA.
Instead of focusing all of his attention on participating in exposure camps, the junior to be keeps working on his game and that comes across loud and clear on film. “A lot of camps make it seem like you’ve got to compete against all of these other kids,” Hewlett said. “But in the recruiting process, what college coaches truly put all the value on is film. I think the biggest thing people don’t realize, the off-season is so long, it’s skewed about what people value in a quarterback. I think Brandon is a really good example of that.
“He went to a major exposure event as a freshman,” Hewlett continued. “No one wrote about him. No one really even knew he was there and now he has the most offers of any quarterback in the 2016 class – Top 25 schools and schools in general. He’s only been to two college camps. Why did that kid get all of these offers? With Brandon, once you get the decision maker, the head coach or offensive coordinator, to sit down and watch the film, he’s going to get an offer off the film right away. They don’t even need to see him throw in person. His film is so strong that they pull the trigger on him right away.”
McIlwain is already widely considered to be the top quarterback in the Class of 2016, so his recruiting process is different. But his case still shows how important film is.
Generally, film is the initial part of the recruiting process, followed by throwing in person at a college camp or spring evaluation periods. The spring evaluation period is the time when college coaches visit high schools to assess athletic and academic qualifications of prospects for early football scholarship considerations. Read more here.
The right way
There are all kinds of Internet companies out there that post game films and provide scouting reports on prospective college recruits, but many of them can be costly to the individual and his family. Here are a few to consider:
Hudl. The site hosts the most high school film and has the ability to edit your highlight film on a weekly basis.
SigningDay.com. This site is self-service. It connects athletes with colleges. There is a fee, but you get a professional evaluation.
UpperHand Promotions. This is an email and profile service. UpperHand provides the tools needed to develop player profiles, share information with college coaches and gain access to an expansive college database.
Scouting Services. These are detailed player reports that are generated and run by individuals or organizations that scout the athletes and sell the service to NCAA programs. (Note: NCAA Division I member institutions are only permitted to subscribe to scouting services in basketball and football that are approved through the NCAA scouting service approval process).
Prospect Spotlights events. These are NCAA approved third-party evaluation events run by college coaches.
OK, so you throw for 3,000 and 30 touchdowns as a freshman and wonder why the scholarship offers aren’t pouring in. Give it time.
Sure, some athletes will already have offers before their junior season, and another NFA stalwart, Jauan Jennings (Class of 2015) recently committed to Tennessee over Alabama, Auburn, Ohio State and a host of other schools. That’s no reason to go into a deep sweat.
“The recruiting process for a lot of athletes, the starting point is moving up,” Hewlett said. “It’s getting earlier and earlier with the way colleges are working now. But at the end of the day, even though offers are going out earlier and earlier, you can still only sign when you’re a senior. The meat of the recruiting process is still happening in the junior year of the athlete, going into their senior year. The reality is the 2015 class, right now is when all the major commitments are starting to happen. Even if a kid got offers a year ago, two years ago, the timeline is still relatively set for going into your senior year.”
Once again, it goes back to working your way up to starting varsity quarterback in high school and getting your best work on film. “If a kid doesn’t get an offer as a freshman, it doesn’t mean he’s not going to be recruited,” Hewlett said. “Film is everything. It doesn’t lie. The reason coaches want to see kids throw in person, they want to evaluate any possible flaws they’re not seeing on film, they want to confirm what they’re seeing on film. ‘Let’s really see the velocity in person.’ Things tend to be more clear in person, but the reality is that interest in person doesn’t really get generated without the film in the first place.”
In rare cases, prep players get through their junior seasons and don’t have enought varsity film. That’s what happened to Morgan Mahalak from powerhouse Marin Catholic in California. Even though he likely would have been the starting quarterback at 99 percent of high schools across the country, Mahalak spent most of his junior season on the sidelines behind senior Jared Goff, who is now the starting QB at Cal. Despite his lack of activity, Mahalak drew heavy interest from Oregon and he will play for the Ducks in the fall after finally getting his chance to play for Marin Catholic as a senior this past season and leading the Wildcats to a 12-1 record.
“Morgan’s situation was unique,” Hewlett said. “He blew people away by how he looked in person. He had JV film, but a lot of schools didn’t offer until they saw varsity film, which is how it should be. Oregon saw him in person 7-8 times and they took a little leap of faith. The offer was based on his film as a sophomore, his attitude and they scouted him heavily. A lot of schools would not have done that because of film.”
So the lesson to be learned is this – work hard and stay on the game film, unless you are in a very unique situation like Mahalak. “Don’t expect to be heavily recruited until you have impressive varsity film as a starter,” Hewlett stressed. “There are kids out there that have extremely high rankings by some of the major recruiting websites and are on the radar in the media, but they have not gotten the offers their ranking suggests based on, what? Their game film. It’s not strong enough. Concentrate on the film and what you are doing to make sure you perform on Friday night. Varsity film is key to being properly recruited. Don’t mistake Internet exposure for recruitment. At the end of day, the film doesn’t lie.”
Brycen Lee a complete package
There were 19 quarterbacks invited to NFA’s first annual OpC4 camp that ran Jan. 1-4 in Tampa. Darin Slack, NFA’s Founder and President, kept a close eye on all the rising QBs, and he was particularly impressed with Brycen Lee.
“I observed him courageously fight a high ankle sprain throughout the OpC4 camp, and he did everything you would expect to see from a next-level player,” Slack said. “Brycen is a tall, strong-armed quarterback who has the physical frame and intelligence to play collegiate football.”
High ankle sprains are extremely painful and most send even the toughest athletes to the training room. But Lee pressed on and made it through a camp that pushed everyone involved to the brink of physical and mental exhaustion.
“It was a great camp,” said Lee, who will be a senior quarterback at Lafayette High School in Mayo, Fla., next year. “It was hard and it was really challenging, but it was great. It really built up my knowledge of football a lot, and I think that’s going to be a big help getting ready for next season.”
This past year, the 6-foot-4, 170-pound Lee led Lafayette to a 7-3 record and a trip to the state playoffs. “I think we had a really good season,” Lee said.
State title the goal
A varsity starter since his sophomore season, Lee passed for almost 1,400 yards and 17 touchdowns for the Hornets this year. “We ran out of the pistol offense and we were really balanced,” Lee said. “Next year, I want to put up big numbers and I want to win state. With the team we have coming back, I think we have a really good chance.”
Lee said the lessons he learned at the OpC4 camp will help him on the field as well as the huddle, sidelines and meeting rooms. “We worked on a lot of footwork, escape drills and a lot of other football drills at the camp,” Lee said. “And we learned a lot about leadership, which was really important. Being a good leader has a very big effect and it helps set the tone for the entire team.”
Lee will be the focal point of Lafayette’s offense next season, and he gives NFA big credit for helping develop his big-time skill at quarterback.
“Honestly, they taught me everything I know about playing quarterback,” he said. “I started with NFA after my sophomore season and that was the first camp I ever went to. They taught me everything about mechanics. I never went to any camps and I never really threw the football right or went about things the right way. NFA really taught me about almost everything, mechanics, everything. I have to give them a lot of credit.”
With his strong throwing arm and ideal size, it comes as no surprise that Lee is already drawing recruiting interest from powerhouse programs from across the country. Troy University in Alabama has already offered.
“The whole process, it’s been going really good,” Lee said. “And I want to check out a lot of other schools, too. Playing college football is a goal I’ve had for a long time. I just want to compete.”
Signing Day link:
It’s a great time of the year for football.
In the NFL, playoff teams are gearing up for runs at the Super Bowl.
In college, the bowl season is in high gear and Alabama and Notre Dame are preparing to square off in the national championship game.
At the youth level, NFA has descended on Florida for the Future All Americans Bowl games.
Football players from 27 states are in Tampa for the showcase event, which kicked off on Sunday with two practices and a New Year’s Eve Social.
Bowl games will be played on Thursday, with teams comprised of seventh, eighth and ninth graders competing against each other at Plant Stadium.
Dub Maddox, NFA’s National Camp Director, is handling all of the coaching and game management for the Future All Americans Bowl games.
“I was very pleased with the Day 1 outcome,” Maddox said. “I have been very impressed with the athletes playing in this event, not only their talent but their coachability. The kids have been really focused and the execution after just one day of practices is going to allow them to be well prepared for a great player showcase game.”
Along with the rest of the NFA staff, Maddox does a standout job getting talented young football players ready to play in big-time events like the Future All Americans Bowl.
Maddox is the Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks coach at Jenks High School in Oklahoma, and he helped guide the Trojans to their 13th state title this season.
The Future All Americans Bowl games pit players from NFA against players affiliated with the United Youth Football League.
Players on both sides were selected on the following criteria – academic responsibility, strong work ethic, integrity, coachable spirit and natural talent.
Players will continue to practice and attend team meetings through Thursday, when the FAA Bowl games will be played.
The Grade 7 game is scheduled for 1 p.m. at Plant Stadium followed by the Grade 8 game at 3 p.m. and the Grade 9 game at 5 p.m.
You won’t find Chase Parrish’s name on any major college recruiting lists this season.
Parrish is only going to be a freshman, and he’ll be suiting up for Colquitt County High School, located in Moultrie, Ga.
While he won’t graduate from high school until 2016, the 5-foot-11, 160-pound quarterback is going to be well worth the wait.
“When he was 5 years old, he started playing flag football,” said Bret Parrish, Chase’s father. “He told me then that he wanted to play in the NFL. Playing football is what he loves, and he’s just always had that natural ability and understanding of the game. It comes easy for him.”
Chase is still young, but he has already been difficult for opposing defenses to handle.
Not only does his have a powerful throwing arm typically seen in skilled quarterbacks that are years older, Parrish also has blazing speed.
“I try to be a double threat,” Parrish said in a phone interview. “I try to be able to pass from the pocket or be dangerous when I’m out of the pocket. As a quarterback, if I can throw the football and tuck it away and run, I’m going to make the defense worry and help my team be that much better.”
Parrish is probably going to have to wait another season before he leads the Colquitt County H.S. offense.
Led by legendary Head Coach Rush Propst, who won five state titles at Hoover High School in Alabama, Colquitt County is going to be loaded with veteran talent this season and the Packers are already ranked in the Top 20 national polls.
Parrish, who has been working with working with QBA/NFA since 2008, is expected to play quarterback for Colquitt County’s freshman and junior varsity teams and dress with the varsity.
“Chase has great vision, a strong arm and one of the most accurate throws in youth football,” said QBA/NFA Coach Will Hewlett.
While he is already good enough to start at most varsity programs in the country, Parrish will gladly bide his time behind Cole Seagraves, the Packers’ senior quarterback.
Last year, Seagraves started attracting interest from a host of college programs while passing for 2,115 yards and 17 touchdowns.
“He’s a very good quarterback and I’m going to try to learn as much as I possibly can from him in every practice and game,” Parrish said. “Watching and picking up every little thing is only going to make me better.”
Parrish already has an amazing work ethic for a 14-year-old football player, and he plans to keep pushing as he enters high school.
“I really want to continue working to become a better double threat,” said Parrish, who idolizes New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees. “I am working to improve as a runner, and I think that would really help scare a defense into not knowing if I am going to throw or run.”
Playing quarterback at the collegiate level has long been a dream for Parrish, and he lists Georgia, Alabama and Florida State as his current favorites.
Film: 8th grade QB Chase Parrish
The sky is the limit for quarterback Max Staver, and it’s going to be fun watching how high he is going to fly.
The six-year QBA/NFA quarterback has blossomed into a 6-foot-5, 230-pound offensive weapon that excels in the pro-style system.
“Max Staver throws the 18-yard comeback better than any high school QB in the country and quite possibly better than most starting BCS college quarterbacks currently,” said QBA/NFA Coach Will Hewlett. “I have no doubt Max will succeed at the next level as he’s has always risen to the occasion.”
The University of Florida is the next level for Staver.
On Monday, June 18, Staver committed to the Gators after also being recruited by Alabama, Auburn, Mississippi State and a host of other schools.
Staver will continue his development under Brent Pease, Florida’s new offensive coordinator.
“Coach Pease, he’s real straight forward, he’s not going to tell you that you’re all this or all that,” Staver told the Orlando Sentinel. “I don’t need someone who is going to lie to my face. I need someone to be honest with me and to help me keep improving.”
After transferring to Brentwood from Pope John Paul II in Hendersonville, Tenn., following his sophomore season, Staver beat out Nick Givens for the starting QB job and led the Eagles to a 9-3 record.
As he returns for his senior year at Brentwood Academy, Staver will try topping some impressive numbers from 2011.
Staver completed 121 of 199 passes as a junior and 13 went for touchdowns. He also piled up 1,522 total yards through the air.
And as the stat sheet indicates, Staver got even better as the season progressed.
In Brentwood’s 11th game, Staver connected on 15 of 21 passes for 153 yards and threw a touchdown during a 35-7 win over McCallie.
In the Eagles’ final game — against Pope John Paul II — Staver completed 12 of 19 passes for 166 yards and threw 3 touchdowns.
While he has the ideal size and arm strength for a drop-back quarterback, Staver is athletic enough to tuck the football under his arm and run.
As a junior at Brentwood, Staver carried the ball 52 times and gained 148 yards while scoring 3 touchdowns.
Much like his passing exploits, Staver improved as a runner through the season. He carried 9 times for 73 yards and a touchdown in the 35-7 win over McCallie and followed up with 28 yards and a TD on 6 carries in the season finale against Pope John Paul II.
Rather than rest on his impressive accomplishments, Staver has continued working on his game and gearing up for his senior season at Brentwood Academy.
Staver was heavily recruited, and Florida emerged as an intriguing destination.
The pairing makes a lot of sense.
Staver is a big-time quarterback, and the Gators are looking for another player like Tim Tebow to make an impact at the key position.
Under first-year head coach Will Muschamp last season, Florida was not much of a factor in the rugged Southeastern Conference, going 3-5 in the East division and finishing behind Georgia and South Carolina.
Even more alarming, the Gators (7-6 overall) ranked 89th among FBS schools with 185.7 passing yards per game.
Earlier in June, Staver visited Gainesville and threw for Florida coaches. It was a productive trip for Staver, who said he was “on fire” during the throwing session.
The Gators obviously felt the same way, which is why they were so anxious to add Staver to the program.
“At UF, they tell me that I’m a good quarterback but they are going to be there to make me better,” Staver said. “When I go to college, I want to keep improving on a daily basis and at UF I think I will do that.”
We want to introduce you to William Finch from Ontario, Canada. He is a true “Warrior”. He trains 5 days a week in the weight room for 90 minutes. He does speed work 4-5 times a week. He maintains over a 3.2 GPA. He is MVP of his High School Football Team in the fall. In summer he plays for an All-Star Team and is their MVP. Since Christmas he has been to 5 Combines in Canada and 4 or 5 in the US. He has been in almost every QB Competition there is. His All-Star team starts in May and ends early in August. He takes a week off and his High School team starts practice. During all this he still trains.
Will’s dream is to play in the US. So, while you’re at home eating ice cream and playing Video Games, William is working. He is chasing his dream. He attends QBA religiously. He follows the ProspectFit Coaches advice.
He has already drawn interest from schools like Baylor, Southern Miss, Western Kentucky, Eastern Michigan and Florida Atlantic. This list will get bigger as the summer comes to an end. He attends camps all over. He is dedicated to fulfill his dream. ProspectFit and the Get 2-0 Blog wants to congratulate William for his dedication and cheer him on as he chases his goal!
William knows how to GET -2-0!!!
Alabama offers longtime DSQA Quarterback and Tulane commit Michael Strauss. The Gulliver Prep Quarterback will have some more considerations to make before changing his commitment. We wish him luck with his decision from all the DSQA coaching staff.
Link to the Rivals article below