It would be accurate to say Peyton Rottinghaus had a big season.
Before suiting up for the Urbandale (Iowa) J-Hawks the eighth grader wanted to be an even more accurate passer than he was the year before, when he threw 4 interceptions quarterbacking the Johnston Dragons.
Rottinghaus accomplished that goal, completing 23 of 48 passes for 514 yards while connecting for 5 touchdowns. He also rushed for a TD and threw only 1 interception.
“Heading into the season, I wanted to help my team win and mentally, be as close to my teammates as I possibly could be,” Rottinghaus said. “I also wanted to reduce my interceptions, which I was able to do. I was also really pleased with how we bounced back during times of adversity.”
The J-Hawks finished the season with a 3-2 record.
When it was over, Rottinghaus reflected on his eighth year of playing QB. “It’s a challenging position and I like working with the many coaches to become not only a better quarterback, but a person as well,” he said. “I feel like I communicate well with my teammates and coaches well, and my preparation and studying game film has improved. I feel I need to continue to work on extending plays and buy more time to throw.”
Rottinghaus’ year-to-year improvement and impressive passing accuracy are reflections of his six years of training with NFA. “I have learned a lot training with NFA, I’ve learned what steps to take and how to take them,” he said. “Mentally, NFA’s helped me to help my teammates and also helped me outside of football, especially in school.”
After qualifying for the Duel at an NFA immersion camp in Phoenix, Rottinghaus placed third among incoming eighth graders at the international quarterback competition in Atlanta.
“I was pleased placing third,” he said. “It boosted my confidence heading into the season and gave me extra motivation. I hope to improve on the third-place finish in the future if I’m given the opportunity.”
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He’s only in fourth grade, and Brody Hasquin has only been playing quarterback for three years.
“I’m working to improve my throwing technique,” he said. “And my foot speed, I’m also working to improve that.”
As Hasquin grows older and gains more experience, he’s sure to make positive strides in all areas of the challenging position. But so far, the young QB has been very good.
“I really like the leadership that comes with playing quarterback and the responsibilty that comes with playing the position,” Hasquin said. “Heading into the season, my goal was to become a better passer in the scheme of the offense. I’m really happy with the way my overall game has improved on a daily basis, and my leadership skills are growing even faster.”
Before playing quarterback for the Troy (Illinois) Titans this season, Hasquin received an invitation to the Duel at an NFA camp in Nashville. He placed fifth among incoming fourth and fifth graders at the showcase competition in Atlanta.
“It was a great experience, I loved it,” Hasquin said of his strong showing at the Duel. “Doing well boosted my confidence for the season and I was able to use that as a stepping stone.”
Hasquin, the son of Granite City High School football head coach Brad Hasquin, recently started training with NFA. “This is my first year, and I’ve already registered for Year 2,” he said. “Training with NFA has already helped improve my throwing technique. They’ve helped me become more confident and my awareness playing quarterback has increased.”
Hasquin attends Henning Elementary School and is an Honor Roll student. “Doing well in school helps improve my intelligence of all aspects of the game,” he said.
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As expected, Zach Simons is starting to get the attention he deserves.
In his first full season as the varsity quarterback at Xavier High School in Appleton last fall, Simons ranked second in the state of Wisconsin with 3,070 yards passing and third with 30 touchdowns.
If that wasn’t enough, the highly skilled junior also rushed for 654 yards and 10 more TDs while leading the Hawks to a 9-2 record and a trip to the WIAA Division 3 playoffs.
“It was definitely a great season,” said Simons, who has been training with NFA for four years and won the Duel in the Class of 2016 division last summer. “Our team chemistry got better every week and we got better every week. It was really fun playing with my teammates.”
Hot college commodity
The fun has continued with a flood of collegiate attention.
Purdue has invited Simons for a June camp, Western Illinois came up to Xavier for a visit, Sacred Heart wants to see the 6-foot-1, 205-pounder at the upcoming Chicagoland QB Spotlight and many other schools are sure to follow.
“There has definitely been a lot more schools that have contacted me and want me to go to their camps,” Simons said. “I’m really excited about that. The whole month of June for me is taken up with football camps. I’m very excited because I always wanted to play at the next level. I feel like this is my chance, as they say.”
Knowing Simons, he is going to make the most of his chance.
Business at hand
Not only is he getting ready to make a strong impression on college suitors this summer, Simons is preparing for his senior season at Xavier.
“I’m really just looking to expand on my game,” he said. “I want to keep working on my technique, footwork and reads. I think I can do better. Last year was really my first year playing quarterback. I can definitely improve a lot more.”
Simons is already preparing for the Hawks’ move to the Bay Conference this fall.
“I watch film from last season’s games and am breaking them down already,” he said. “Moving to a new conference, some of the teams don’t have film on us and we don’t have film on some of them, so we’re starting to break it down now. It’s a tougher conference but that doesn’t necessarily make it a tougher challenge. I look at it as an opportunity to show people what we’re capable of.”
To prepare for any and every challenge, Simons has leaned on his NFA work and he also trained with Will Hewlett at the Range in April.
“It was great,” he said. “And with NFA, they always teach the right technique. But I also like the way they teach you about leadership, how it’s not about you. It’s about moving the chains and getting first downs and I really take that to heart.”
After his senior season with the Hawks, Simons will take his game to the next level.
“Playing Division I football in college is my goal,” he said. “But if it’s not FBS and it’s FCS, Division II, really anything is fine with me. I just want to keep playing.”
Another NFA trained quarterback, another college offer.
A large number of Class of 2015 QBs with NFA ties have already committed to play college football, and Tanner Hearn is on the list.
Before the 6-foot-2, 180-pound senior passed for 2,900 yards and combined for 34 touchdowns this past season at East River High School in Orlando, Hearn committed to Southern Illinois University.
“After I visited all the schools I visited last summer, I got an offer from Southern Illinois,” Hearn said. “When I went and visited, I liked that place from the beginning. I liked the program, I liked all the coaches and the coaches loved me in the camp. I knew from the start when I got there I wanted to go there. When they offered me, I knew it was the place for me. I knew I had a great opportunity up there and I knew getting away from home would give me a chance to grow up on my own a little more. It was a great opportunity all the way around.”
Big senior season
Hearn showed he is more than ready to play at the next level while earning Florida third-team All State Class 7A honors as a senior.
“I really enjoyed my senior season,” he said. “It was everything I looked forward to. I just wanted to go out in my last year and have fun and play the best ball I could play. Knowing I was going to Southern Illinois, it was like a stress reliever because I was able to play my best knowing I’m going to a great college program. I enjoyed all my coaching and playing with my teammates. It was a great senior year to go out on.”
One of the highlights of Hearn’s senior season was a game against Oak Ridge, which featured another NFA product at quarterback – D’Andre Weaver. East River came out on the short end of a 34-28 score, but Hearn and Weaver combined to pass for 608 yards and 6 touchdowns.
“That was one of the favorite games I played in,” Hearn said. “I knew a lot of guys on the other team from playing 7-on-7. It was good to go out and play well in that game. It was a real close game the entire way.”
Hearn is a dual threat quarterback who rushed for 300 yards last season. “I love throwing the ball from the pocket, but I also love extending plays on the roll out or run and making plays,” he said.
Hearn gives NFA and Founder/President Darin Slack big credit for helping him develop his game. He started attending NFA camps as a high school freshman.
“They helped me get ready for high school, and they helped me get ready for the next level,” Hearn said. “And NFA helped me with more than my throwing motion. With the throwing motion, it’s a different process for each coach you go to. Coach Slack’s process is he breaks it down for you and you understand it. You know it’s right. The main thing he helped me with was reading coverages. I think that’s what helped me the most in high school and will probably help me a lot in college. If I didn’t know the coverages like Coach Slack taught me, I wouldn’t have been able to break down the defenses like I did.”
Now, Hearn is preparing himself for success at Southern Ilinois, and possibly more.
“I might redshirt just to get a year to grow and learn the offense,” he said. “Or, I could go in there and play, depending on the quarterback situation and how injuries go. I’m just going to go up there and compete, play the best I can and learn the offense. We’ll see where it goes from there. My goal is to go up there and compete and start as soon as I possibly can. I want to play football my last couple years of college. If I play well in college and have a chance at the next level, that would be awesome because that’s every quarterback’s dream.”
Aidan Pieper comes back strong from injury
Even though he’s only 10 years old, Aidan Pieper can’t wait to get back to playing football.
Pieper has been playing the sport since he was 4 years old, but he was sidelined for almost the entire 2013 season after breaking his collarbone while playing quarterback for the Burlington CYFL Panthers outside of Chicago.
“I got hurt in a scrimmage, and even though I would go to practice I really didn’t like being out at all,” Pieper said. “I really want to play in a game.”
The Panthers’ season is right around the corner, so Pieper will soon be getting his wish. And even though the collarbone injury held him out last year, Pieper is going to be ready to roll when he gets back on the field for Burlington.
Second at Duel
At the Duel last month, Pieper didn’t show any rust while placing second in the Class of 2022 competition. He was invited to NFA’s annual showcase event in Massillon, Ohio, after training with Coach Steve Gregory’s Quarterback Farm in Illinois the past two years.
“I thought attending the Duel was really interesting,” Pieper said. “Most importantly, I went there to have fun. It was a great experience and it helped me in many ways. It helped make me a better player and I made a few new friends, too.”
Finishing second in his age group against QBs from around the country is an impressive feat, and Pieper was a bit surprised. “My goal was probaby to make it to the Gauntlet,” he said. “But doing so well, I think it’s really going to help my confidence. And I think it will help me play better when I get on the football field.”
Pieper has been playing quarterback for six years, and he understands the importance of continually working on his game. In addition to NFA and the Quarterback Farm, he trains at Proforce.
“I’ve just always liked playing quarterback,” Pieper said. “I like being able to be in control of the offense. I like the leadership part of it, and I like to throw and run the ball, too. But the main thing with playing quarterback is it’s fun.”
Work in progress
As he prepares for another season with the Panthers, Pieper will continue working on his game, and that means continuing his throwing sessions with his dad, Ben.
“One thing I need to work on is my freezing,” Pieper said. “Coach Gregory teaches us that after we throw the ball, we need to freeze. So after you throw, you want to stay frozen for a couple seconds. I need to work on that. He also told us to aim small and miss small. Basically, he wants our eyes on target of where we want the ball to be.”
As he showed at the Duel, Pieper likes to compete and do as well as possible. But he also plays football for another right reason.
“My goals are to have fun, play great and just do the best I can,” Pieper said. “I go out there for competition, but I want to have fun.”
JD Gieson plays with competitive fire
While he might lack ideal size, JD Gieson makes up for the alleged disadvantage with a dogged work ethic and intense competitive fire that makes him a viable candidate to be playing quarterback at the collegiate level. “I’m very determined,” Gieson said. “I have been since I was little. And I’ve always been competitive. I hate to lose, even in my gym class.”
While he stands 5-foot-10 and weighs 160 pounds, don’t be fooled. Gieson is a player. This past season, the junior started his second year as the varsity quarterback for Dixon High School in Illinois and passed for 1,481 yards while gaining another 455 rushing the football.
“We run a triple-option offense, spread and pistol, and some hurry-up here and there,” Gieson said. “It definitely suits my strengths. I’m not much of a pocket passer; I kind of like to run and get out on the edge and make plays and I can throw out there as well.”
All-time passing leader
In two seasons as the Dukes’ starting QB, Gieson is already the school’s all-time passing leader with 2,807 yards. Dustin Bock, who graduated in 2001 and currently serves as Dixon’s quarterback coach, was the previous leader with 2,429 yards.
“When you have the height disadvantage, you have to be able to use your other abilities to get around that,” said Gieson, who is also highly successful in the classroom with a 3.78 GPA. “You can’t be the normal pocket passer as much where you just stand around looking over the linemen because you can’t really see over the linemen all the time. You have to get out and make plays. In my situation, I’m another athlete who can actually throw the ball and run the ball.”
Not only does he have 4.5 speed in the 40-yard dash, Gieson holds the freshman and sophomore school records at Dixon for fastest times in the 110- and 300-meter hurdles. “I actually use my speed to just evade defenders,” he said. “We have set plays and a lot of times I can get away from people and run around and extend the play, get the ball down the field or find the gap, hit the hole and just take off. We didn’t really have a running game my sophomore year. We picked up our running game a lot this past year and I was a pretty big part of that.”
Gieson is preparing for his senior season with the Dukes, and he’s attending NFA’s OSD camp in Indianapolis this weekend. “NFA’s been great,” Gieson said. “I go there to obviously get better in my technique and form and learn how to throw a little bit better. I know I can run the ball, I know I can catch the ball, but there’s always room for improvement throwing. That’s another step I need to improve my game and NFA has been a really big help.”
When Colby Brown went to his first NFA camp as an eighth grader, he didn’t exactly stand out. As a matter of fact, he really wasn’t even a quarterback at the time.
“I was an offensive lineman, a guard,” Brown said. “I went to my first NFA camp and they changed my throwing motion and that gave me a little confidence and I started believing I could do it. I started believing I could play quarterback.”
During his freshman season at Olympia High School in Orlando, Fla., Brown made his first appearance at QB in a playoff game, and it was a memorable debut. “They put me in the fourth quarter and I threw for about 200 yards,” he said.
Brown led Olympia to another playoff appearance during his sophomore season before moving to Plant High School in Tampa. As a junior, Brown played behind highly skilled senior Aaron Banks but still managed to compile 470 passing yards and 4 touchdowns.
This past season, the senior led Plant H.S. to an 11-2-1 record and another postseason berth while passing for 2,905 yards and 31 touchdowns. Brown also rushed for 151 yards and 3 TDs.
In addition to NFA, Brown said playing on the offensive line helped make him a better football player. “Moving from offensive line to quarterback, I’m glad it worked out that way,” he said. “I got a better understanding of how hard an O-lineman’s job is, and even though I was an O-lineman, I was one of the smallest kids on the team and I thought I might have developed a little toughness. I probably should go back to O-line a little bit and toughen up again.”
This past week, Brown signed a letter of intent to play QB for Eastern Illinois, which advanced to the quarterfinals of the FCS playoffs last season. The Panthers were led by quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, who is positioned to be selected in the top half of the upcoming NFL Draft.
In good company at EIU
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo also played at attended EIU, as did New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton. “They’re a good team and they’ve got really good coaches,” Brown said. “They’re new and they’re going to do well. They told me I had a chance to compete early and I really liked hearing that.”
Brown was relieved to hook up with Eastern Illinois, and he is happy the recruiting process is over. Even with the impressive numbers he put up for one of the top high school programs in football-rich Florida this past season, Brown was not overwhelmed by college offers.
“The process was brutal,” Brown said bluntly. “I had 15 schools or so that told me, ‘Hey, if this kid doesn’t commit the spot’s yours.’ A kid always committed. It happened at Utah State, Toledo, Rutgers, Vanderbilt, Minnesota, Georgia Southern and a bunch of other schools. It was rough. It was pretty nerve racking. The thing I think kids need to understand about the recruiting process is, it’s not ever a measure of how talented or how good you are at football. It’s a measure of how good you are and the situation you’re put in. That’s what (Head) Coach (Robert) Weiner always told me at Plant. It’s a pretty rough process, especially for quarterbacks.”
Brown’s lack of size was also an issue. At 6-foot-1, 185 pounds, many big-time programs obviously thought he was too small.
“Absolutely, it was a problems for a lot of schools,” Brown said. “I kind of like my size. I feel like I can use it to my advantage a little bit. But there are just some schools out there that won’t offer a smaller guy. It doesn’t matter how good he is. Anything that cuts your options in half like that, it’s going to make it tough. I almost feel like little guys are better, to be honest. Big guys can see a little bit better, but unless you’re a big guy that’s really athletic, and still throw with accuracy, it’s like what’s the point if you’re going to be awkward and big?”
Brown said he was relieved to find a college home at Eastern Illinois, and he’s ready to help keep the program on strong footing. “I think I’ll have a huge chip on my shoulder, being a small guy, being a guy that was under-recruited,” he said. “I love having a little chip.”
And even though he’ll be starting all over again as a freshman, Brown said the lessons he learned from NFA should help him overcome any future obstacles. “NFA was a huge push for me,” Brown said. “They taught me a lot about playing quarterback and they taught me a good part of how to be a man, how to treat people. Treat everyone like they’re important and that really helped shaped my leadership skills.”
Austin Fort heading to Wyoming
Austin Fort is ready for the next challenge. After leading Gillette (Wyoming) High School to the Class 4A title game as a junior last season and carrying the Camels to the state semifinal game this year, the 6-foot-4, 210-pounder is looking forward to playing college football in 2014.
While he was recruited by a number of schools, including Illinois, Colorado and Colorado State, Ford is staying closet to home and he’ll attend Wyoming. “I committed to Wyoming for all the right reasons, because I believe it’s the right place for me,” Fort said.
After passing for 2,137 yards and 13 touchdowns as a junior at Gillette and running for 735 yards and 10 more TDs, college recruiters came after Fort in waves. He committed to Wyoming in June. “I tried to get as much exposure as I could as a junior so I’d have as many options as possible going into the summer,” Fort said. “In the back of my mind I wanted to get it done early so it wouldn’t be on my mind during my senior year. When the opportunity came up and I ended up committing to Wyoming, it was a pretty big relief.”
This season, Fort passed for 1,070 yards and 8 touchdowns while using his 4.6 speed to run for 670 yards and 10 more scores. The overall numbers were down, for a reason.
Fort 10-1 as a senior
“I thought we had a great year as a team, that’s for sure,” Fort said of the Camels going 10-1. “The beginning of my season was frustrating because I had an ankle injury early on that kind of kept me off the field. And when I did get back, we would get up on teams and I would come out, either at halftime or after three quarters. I only played three full games the whole year. I could have had better numbers if I had played more but I feel like when I was on the field I was pretty effective.”
While his high school career just ended, Fort is already preparing for the next level. “I’m doing all my off-season training and I’m going to move down there (Laramie) in June and start camp,” Fort said. “Just get better every single day and be the best quarterback that I can be. Just put myself in the position to be successful. They haven’t told me anything so far about red-shirting or any of that business, so I’m just kind of waiting to find out.”
A natural athlete, Fort has improved his overall game by attending NFA camps since he was in seventh grade. He has often worked with NFA Founder/President Darin Slack and Director of Player Development/Master Coach Will Hewlett. “The NFA camps were really helpful as far as getting you into a competitive environment and helping you learn how to stick out as a quarterback and get better, obviously,” Fort said. “Working with Coach Hewlett one-on-one was huge for me, just getting my mechanics tuned as well as possible so I could be more successful on the field.”
The Quarterback Academy (QBA), which provides quarterback training and qb camps to aspiring athletes, closed out the 2010 off-season camp tour with one of the strongest Quarterback competitions in the country, “The Duel of the Dozens”. “We’re really excited to get this competition in the books for 2010, we had 120 quarterbacks at the skills camp and 60 compete in the competition.” says Will Hewlett, Director of Player Development and Camp Director. “The competition had representation from Oklahoma, Virginia, Texas, New York and Nebraska to name a few states, as well as a strong representation from local Florida Quarterbacks.”
For the 11th and 12th grade division, Sawyer Kollmorgan, Jenks Trojan Quarterback from Oklahoma, delivered an outstanding performance taking home the top QB award for the entire event. Colton Schulenberg from Illinois came in second place followed by local star Tony Diviney from Tampa, Florida. “As a Quarterback Coach, it was fun to watch all the upper classman rise to the occasion and pull away from the rest of the competitors. They all put their game faces on and took care of business.”
Rounding out the top performers and considered an underdog by most, Edward Plitt from Eastport South Manor high school in New York came down to Orlando and brought his “A Game”. Plitt, going into his final year, proved why he’ll make a name for himself in 2010 by scoring a perfect 10 on the coverage recognition drill. “We’ve seen Eddie Plitt improve dramatically over the past 3 years. His hard work has paid off and you can see that from the results of the competition. We have structured the Duel to represent game like situations as much as possible in order to make sure the most well rounded quarterbacks do well. Plitt displays many skill sets as a QB, which allowed him to compete at a very high level. We look forward to following him in 2010” says Coach Hewlett.
With a first look at Plitt, he doesn’t necessarily fit your standard pro-style quarterback frame. He’s not 6‘5” so he won’t stand out at first. However, pay close attention and he shows you why he is among the best Quarterbacks. Fluid mechanics and smart decisions separate Eddie from most other QB’s. “He’s not going to blow you away by throwing the ball 80 yards down the field, but he will catch you off guard and make sure that defenses pay for their mistakes” stated one of the QBA certified coaches.
The Quarterback Academy, a 21 year old national company, formally DSQA is the premier quarterback mechanics training program in the industry today and is currently seeking to develop new certified coaches throughout the United States and Canada. If you would like more information about joining this highly trained team that includes greats like Joe Germaine, former Ohio State QB, and Heisman Trophy winner, Charlie Ward; please visit the website at: http://www.quarterbackacademy and tell them about your interest.
Quarterback Academy is a leading provider of high quality quarterback camps and training programs around the country. Using online, and on-site, coaching programs, The Quarterback Academy connects parents and coaches with opportunities normally only available at the professional level. QBA also provide recruiting services, quarterback coaching clinics, and affiliate opportunities.
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