California quarterback target Spencer Petras needed just one throwing session in front of quarterbacks coach Marques Tuiasosopo to secure an offer from the Bears, and so soon after former quarterback commit Adrian Martinez flipped to Tennessee, Petras could very well provide the Bears with a potential replacement jewel for the 2018 class.
Petras has been to Cal summer camps in the past, but he was very skinny -- barely 200 pounds -- but he's since grown into his frame and now hovers near 220 -- heavier than another signal caller out of Kentfield (Calif.) Marin Catholic, 2016 No. 1 overall NFL Draft pick Jared Goff. Petras is bigger than Goff was at this stage, and has a frame that can easily get up to 230 pounds in a college weight training program.
Petras arguably has a higher ceiling than Martinez, and despite having only one season-plus on varsity under his belt, it's easy to see why. Petras threw for 3,036 yards and 33 passing touchdowns as a junior and led his team to an 11-3 record and an appearance in the CIF North Coast Section Open Division title game. He also rushed for 310 yards and seven TDs and was named first-team All-League.
Petras had earned offers from Fresno State, Nevada, San Jose State, Hawaii, Wyoming, UNLV, Cornell and Syracuse, and since the evaluation period has begun, Louisville, San Diego State, Cal, Colorado State and most recently, Oregon State have all extended offers after seeing him throw in person.
It's far too early to put the label of "Next Jared Goff" on Petras, and that label shouldn't be put on him, in the first place, since he's had a year and a half on varsity, whereas Goff spent all four. That said, it's hard not to see a the similarities, and a lot of that is due to the height and the mechanics, both of which came from working with Marin Catholic head coach Mazi Moayed.
Like Goff, Petras isn't afraid to take a hit (2:44), and dish out a hit if need be, as we see at 0:59 on his highlight film.
Petras stands tall in the pocket, and has the typewriter feet Goff showed in the Tony Franklin System -- chattering feet that keep him on the move and always ready to throw. That footwork will be changed once he gets to Berkeley, and learns under NFL veteran Tuiasosopo, but he already has a very stable launch platform, even when molested and moving outside the pocket (1:33). What's unusual for a system based in Franklin's offense is the fact that Petras makes reads to both sides of the field on a single play. Normally, in that offense, half-field reads are the norm, but at 1:42, we see him check down from the right, to the left, finding the open man in zone coverage, which, again, was something at which Goff excelled.
The main event with Petras is his explosive arm. He has a quick, effortless release and the ball really pops out of his hand. He keeps that stable launch platform as he moves in and out of the pocket, and keeps his eyes down field. He steps up in the face of pressure and has a pump fake that's almost identical to Goff's at the college level (the pump fake at 3:45 is particularly notable, as he's doing it under pressure and finds his receiver on the back, outside shoulder, away from the defender). That allows him to get defenders down field to hesitate, opening up his big receivers. Even when his receivers get a step, he puts the ball onto their back shoulder, making sure there's no room for a defender to make a play (as seen at 3:53, where just a little pump fake makes defenders think twice, since he's so deft at hitting the underneath routes).
Despite his relative paucity of time at the varsity level, he doesn't seem to get flustered. He has a very good feel for the pocket and where pressure is coming from (4:34 and 4:44) and is able to slide and step up to avoid it. At 2:08, on a zone read look, he fumbles the ball in the air after pulling the handoff, and still keeps his composure, firing a strike to the front corner of the end zone, right where only his receiver can make a play on the ball, high-pointing it for a touchdown. We see that same kind of high-level ball placement at 2:32
His highlights start off with a series of long throws, but no two are alike. His throw at 1:08 shows that perhaps best of all, as he lofts the ball over a defender for a 27-yard touchdown to a tightly-covered receiver. His very next throw is a dart up the seam between a cornerback and a linebacker. He then humps a ball over linebackers on a slant route for a touchdown.
At 1:49, we see all of the above in a single play. Petras looks right, escapes a tackle, keeps his shoulders square and finds his receiver in the back of the end zone between two defenders.
There are times where he stares down his receiver, though, and it's only because of his quick release that he's able to complete those passes. He'll need to learn some of the finer points -- like looking off defenders and more advanced check downs -- at the next level, but he does have a very good sense of timing in the check downs that we do see (9:49, in particular, shows that).
At 5:18, we see Petras's ability to run, and while he's not a dual-threat quarterback by any means, that read option play shows some toughness and vision, especially going to the short side of the field, though it's not nearly as impressive as his next play at 5:26, where he pulls the ball on a read option and needs two tacklers to bring him down. The next play is a broken one, and, not seeing a receiver open down field, pulls the ball and finds some green, making one tackler miss and bouncing outside for a long scamper. If he can add weight and get to 230 pounds, he could be a real threat with his legs, or at least enough of a threat to make teams think twice on those zone-read looks. He also shows good balance on his runs and an ability to make things happen on otherwise broken plays, as well as on designed runs, of which we see several in the middle third of his tape.
Watching his tape in totality, Petras can make all the throws, at ever level, to both sides of the field, from sideline to sideline. That versatility -- knowing when to throw the fastball, and when to throw with touch -- almost impresses more than his pure arm strength. He shows that off particularly well at 7:48, when with a simple flick of the wrist, he's able to hit his receiver in stride over a defender 20 yards down field. With most Power 5 players, it's enough to watch three or four plays to see ability, but his tape is so varied, and advanced, that it's pure fun to watch it all the way through.