Ok, enough about Heath Ledger. Sorry to those of you that weren't thrilled with that yesterday. But today, we move forward with a profile of QB recruit Calvin Schmidtke.
Schmidtke is an interesting prospect for this year's class, mainly because of two huge things - 1) His success in a pass-happy offense, which fits the Wulff/Sturdy offense to a T, and 2) His lack of prototype size and recruiting attention for a player of his ilk.
In other words, Schmidtke is exactly the type of QB that WSU never would have given much consideration to in the past. If you've watched our offense since 1987, you know the type of QB that excelled in the one-back offense. The tall, strong-armed, NFL prototype passers like Rosey, Bledsoe and Leaf were the perfect fit. Not only were they big enough to see the mismatches with a spread-em-out offense under center and in the pocket, but they were also big enough to take the inevitable beatings that were frequent under a one-back offense. With zero help back there on passing downs, usually that QB was on an island and defenses brought the house. But it was all about our QB finding the mismatch and getting the ball off before the D could get to him.
Obviously there are exceptions. Gesser was 6-1 and while he didn't have the size or the arm, he had not only an understanding of the offense but an extra sense to avoid the pass rush that the great ones have, ala Brett Favre. So many times Gesser would roll away from pressure when it looked like he didn't even know it was coming from a blind spot, etc. If you are ever bored, pull up the 2002 USC game and watch how many times Gesser is rolling out or rolling away from pressure and making plays. And of course, the red-headed stepchild, Alex Brink, lacked the great size and arm strength, but he put up the best career numbers in school history in this offense. (NO, we will NOT debate Brink anymore. It's done.)
So, Schmidtke basically goes against the grain of what we normally look for and, obviously, hope for in a QB. But you have to remember the kind of new offense we will be running, and why it makes so much sense for a recruit like him to be a guy that is high on our board, while other schools might not feel so inclined.
First of all, consider the numbers: Completed an astounding 76 percent of his passes as a senior -- racking up 2,724 yards and 37 TDs with only 5 interceptions. He also rushed for 10 scores. 2007 Tacoma News-Tribune's All-Area Player of the Year, Seattle Times first team All-State. Earned Associated Press first-team Class 2B All-State honors following his junior season at Life Christian Academy when he threw for more than 3,000 yards, completing 66 percent of his passes, and posting 46 TDs vs. 15 INTs. Was an all-league choice as an LC sophomore after passing for a school record 2,379 yards with 23 TDs and 10 interceptions. Also plays safety. Grew three inches between his sophomore and junior seasons.
What does all that tell you? 76 percent of his passes in a pass-happy offense, with 37 TD's and only 5 INT's, is simply exceptional no matter how you slice it. Whether you are playing 8-man football, or even playing against air with your buddies in the street, seriously, 37 and 5?? WOW. That's throwing a ton of strikes. And that's all in an offense that is perfectly suited for him, not the traditional offense that might see him overwhelmed if he hung in the pocket every play.
Here's a scouts read on Schmidtke, from ESPN.com:
Evaluation: Schmidtke is a productive quarterback prospect with the moxxy needed to move the chains and improvise when the original play breaks down. Lacks great size but is a crafty gunslinger who can buy extra time with his quick feet and throw on the run with above average accuracy. Ball handling skills and overall mechanics are adequate when he has time to settle his feet. Keeps the ball high upon delivery with an adequate release point. Flashes good wrist snap and rotation on intermediate-to-deep routes and shows good touch in the three-step game. However, he is not your prototypical drop back pocket passer lacking downfield arm strength and the velocity to fit the ball into tight spots in coverage. Tends to look at his intended target and flee the moment he feels pressure without going through progressions. Is a quick, decisive runner but does not warrant legit dual threat status that make him an ideal prospect in a zone read scheme at the next level. Bottom line, Schmidtke is a crafty quarterback prospect who takes command of the offense and is productive despite lack of ideal measurable; should excel in an open offense with the freedom to make plays.
Now, before you freak out over the line that says he does not warrant legit dual threat status in a zone read scheme, you should consider the numbers from Matt Nichols at EWU last year. Nichols threw from an astounding 3700+ yards, 34 TD's and only 9 INT's as a sophomore in '07. It was the first year Nichols played in Todd Sturdy's offense. But Nichols only rushed for 392 yards, so it's not like you have to have the running ability of Jake Locker or Dennis Dixon to make an offense like this work. And Nichols is 6-2, certainly not the NFL scouts dream for size, but far and away good enough to just tear it up in this offense.
Here's some footage of Schmidtke. The video is pretty grainy in spots, in fact it looks like some of it was taken with a cell phone camera(!), but you get the idea of the dual-threat he really looks like on a few of those runs. You also see him under center quite a bit, something he'll never do in Pullman, and to me that makes him that much more impressive that he can be his size, yet still drop back and get the job done, even if he isn't NFL-caliber:
Bottom line? In the new Todd Sturdy offense at WSU, Schmidtke looks like the perfect fit.