CSDTV: Dunsford Opens Eyes
SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Santa Rosa (Calif.) Cardinal Newman quarterback Keaton Dunsford doesn't see himself as a running quarterback. But, at 6-foot-4 and every bit of 220 pounds, he's shown time and time again that, when faced with the opportunity to make yards with his legs, he'll make defenders pay.
For Dunsford, it's all about attitude.
"I don't consider myself, necessarily, a running quarterback. I'm definitely a pro-style quarterback," Dunsford said after Friday's Elite 11 regional at the San Francisco 49ers training facility, in the shadow of the still-under-construction Levi Stadium. "Despite that, I do have an ability to run. I think I possess a toughness factor that a lot of quarterbacks around the country don't possess. There are some clips in my tape of me running some kids over, and I think it's more of an attitude, rather than ability.
"I don't have blazing speed, and I can admit that, but if I need to scramble out of the pocket, over the offseason, I've been improving my footwork, and I think that's where I can make an impact. A lot of times, you don't necessarily need a quarterback who will run for 200 yards a game; You just need a quarterback who can make one first down, one 10-yard gain, which can change a drive, change the outcome of the game. One play can make or break a game."
A lifelong fan of the California Golden Bears, Dunsford knows how big a single play can be all too well. The most vivid memory he has of a Cal game was that fateful night on Oct. 13, 2007, when Bears quarterback Kevin Riley fell to the turf just a few yards short of the end zone as the clock ran out against Oregon State.
"Cal had the opportunity to be No. 1 in the nation, LSU lost, and all he had to do was throw the ball away," Dunsford recalled. "It was a young play, but as a young quarterback, I could see that happen and it was pretty jaw-dropping. You could feel the crowd, total excitement in one second and complete silence the next."
Though he only has one offer so far -- from Harvard -- Dunsford said that his most coveted offer is one from Cal, and in late June, he will attend the Bears' one-day showcase camp and face off with several other signal-callers for the right to snag a scholarship.
"Just being a local guy, going to Cal games as a kid, it would be totally awesome," Dunsford said. "I visited one of their practices and I went to their spring game a few months ago, back in March, and I'm definitely at the top of their board. They've specifically told me that. They've invited me to their camp -- one of three or four guys to be at the camp -- and I just hope I'll have the opportunity to compete and hopefully get an offer. But, if not, I've built a great relationship with coach [Tony] Franklin and coach [Sonny] Dykes."
Going up against other local stalwarts won't be anything new for Dunsford, who gave current Cal freshman Jared Goff and his Kentfield (Calif.) Marin Catholic squad all they could handle in the Division III semifinals last season, completing 17 of 28 passes for 261 yards, two passing touchdowns and a rushing touchdown with just one pick in a 42-37 loss.
"That was a nail-biter," Dunsford said. "We just went head-to-head, and even though I was focused mainly on my position, just being able to look over and see a quarterback of that caliber rifle the ball in there, the game he had was incredible.
"It came down to the last two minutes of the game, which, win or loss, that's an experience that you'll take into the future and it will benefit me in my future career. I'm glad it happened, even though I wasn't on the winning side. That's sports for you: You win or you lose, but it's what you take out of it that makes you better as a player."
Dunsford is an intriguing prospect given his size and athleticism, which is what has several programs -- including Stanford (where he will camp next month), Wisconsin and Alabama -- poking around, but though many staffs are having a tough time nailing down just what kind of college quarterback he'll be, he opened plenty of eyes on Friday with a solid outing.
"I think I did great today. I tried to compete with the top guys here, and I felt like I did that," Dunsford said. "Even if I wasn't perfect on every throw, I stepped up to the moment and I stayed calm and relaxed throughout the majority of the camp, especially the Pressure Cooker. I felt I was fairly successful in that."
Dunsford did have one slip-up – literally – stumbling out of the blocks on his sixth throw of the session-ending Pressure Cooker, before rifling a 10-yard TD pass to Bears commit Jalen Harvey in the back of the end zone to complete the drill.
"I've got to give credit to my private coach -- Will Hewlett of National Football Academy -- we always train with the pressure throws, off your back foot or scrambling out of the pocket, so I think that training assisted me right there," Dunsford said. "I was trying to catch my breath a little bit, and coach [Yogi] Roth started speeding up the clock, so I was like, ‘Ah, I've got to take the snap,' and I just happened to get my cleat caught in the turf. But, that happens in the game. Guards step on your toe or an early snap or whatnot. Luckily, I was able to complete the ball."
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