What, would you say, is your approach to the game?
On the field I’m a leader by example more than being a vocal guy and I’m kinda the same off the field. I’m not an out front type of person and I try very hard to have a good reputation and good grades of course. I hold myself accountable.
How’d you get your start in football?
Yeah I kinda grew up in my football. My dad, he passed away about six years ago but his brother played in the NFL for nine seasons, George Blanda, he was a Hall of Fame player, so that helped me. I just started being interested at a young age in being a football player, I started playing in first grade, so I’ve been playing for awhile as you can see. I didn’t play quarterback though until 8th grade, before that I played tight end, linebacker, wide receiver, all over.
For fans who haven’t seen you play quarterback—how would you describe your style?
I’d like to say pretty much I make stuff happen, I like to use my feet when needed, but I take what’s there and I try not to force things which is something I’ve been definitely working on since last year. I’m working on my decision-making, but I’m a very dynamic player with my feet and my arm. I run a 4.5. I actually ran that at Duke twice in camps.
From an offense perspective, how would you describe what your high school football team does?
This year we did an empty set because we were more of a young team without a lot of experience running the ball, so we just wanted to get the ball out a lot quicker and get it to our playmakers at wide receiver. We never really forced anything, just took what the defense was giving us.
How many touchdown passes did you have this past season?
I had 19.
How many of those would you say come off the short passing game versus down the field either seam or longer throws?
Probably about seven that were off quick screens or something happened with their alignment that we took advantage of, but the rest were guys running really good routes that worked out in our favor.
When you project to college do you prefer to play more in a spread type offense or something different?
Yeah I’d like to be in a spread, or some type of spread/read-option where I can do different things. I can do whatever though since in high school I’ve been under center, I’ve done spread, I can do pretty much whatever but I would like to go into a spread type offense.
What college programs were you really paying attention to this past season with how they ran their offenses ?
I did a lot of studying of Duke since they were one of the first schools to come for me, I went to a good amount of their games and I watched Sirk a lot to see how they used the quarterback there. I was also a big Marcus Mariota fan so I watched a lot of Oregon. Then I also watched DeShaun Watson at Clemson and I also looked at UNC as well with Marquise, I actually talked to their quarterbacks coach as well there since they liked to pass the ball a lot but since they had a quarterback like Marquise, they could run it a lot too. Those were the big ones I watched a lot.
Did you notice a big difference with those programs with how they utilized and developed their QBs?
I feel like they all kinda figured out what their quarterback could do and built the offense around him. They let their guys be who they are as quarterbacks.
Have you noticed a big difference in the pitches from each of those schools towards you in their recruiting processes?
A little bit yeah because most of the schools are saying I’d be a good fit for their schemes and the type of people they look to bring in. Like with Duke with Coach Cutcliffe it’s all about leaving the place better than you found it, and they feel I can be a guy that helps them get where they want to be. So I’m looking forward to learning more from there.
What’s your offer situation with schools at this point?
Duke and Wake Forest have offered, Oregon I haven’t gotten an offer from them, then I had camps to go to at North Carolina and Clemson.
Which coaches are you regularly talking with?
Coach Roper at Duke, Coach Keimach at Duke also, he’s a grad assistant and we’ve been talking for about a year now. Also the quarterback coach at UNC, Coach Caldwell at Clemson, Coach Roper at South Carolina and one of the coaches from Wake Forest.
Since Duke and Wake Forest gave you early offers, what is your thought process towards them both giving you early offers?
It was great seeing my hard work pay off that early, I was very grateful for both of those schools offering me early and I have great relationships with Coach Roper and Coach Ruggerio at Wake. I love what they both have to say, I would have no problem going to either school. I love Duke and now I’m just making sure I go to the best place for me.
What makes you say you love Duke?
Pretty much the family feel they have there, the DukeGang thing, you can tell how much they care about each other, how your family situation is, how you blend in with the players is all important there. Then with Coach Cutcliffe and Coach Roper, those guys have been around forever and with Coach Cutcliffe, he’s a quarterback guru. Then it’s Duke you know, all that stuff.
What are your thoughts on Coach Roper shifting over to be the new offensive coordinator for Duke this season?
Yeah he was, I talked to him a lot about it. When Coach Montgomery left and I went in for the Junior Day, that was the first time I really got to meet Coach Roper and we hit it off right when we met. He’s a very down to earth guy, we clicked and we talked for hours about life, about football. He’s a great guy that knows a lot about life and football.
How much have they discussed with you where their quarterback situation is, both with current players and with their recruiting processes?
He told me the first time I met him that he felt I was the best quarterback in the class of 2018 and they all told me how much they loved me. He pretty much said from what they have told me that I am their main quarterback target in 2018 and I could come in there and be the hometown hero with how they do things in their program and where it’s going and that I could bring it home, bring it back to Durham.
How have you responded to that pitch?
Oh man it’s great, that’s pretty much what you have hoped for your whole life to hear. It’s surreal but at the same time you can’t be satisfied, you have to keep working hard and have a good season and keep comparing it to what you have heard from everybody else and to what else you have seen so that when the time comes to make the decision you are ready to pull the trigger and make it.
How did they present the scholarship offer?
Let’s see, I’ve been talking to them since after my freshman season, so I went to three or four games and I was showing as much interest in them as they were in me, then I got my Wake offer, then I went to their Junior Day where I met Coach Roper for the first time, then I went down for Spring Practice and Coach Cutcliffe called me into his office after that and he told me that they loved me as a person and a player and they feel that I would be a great fit for what they do and they offered me a scholarship after we had talked some more about football and life.
How were you feeling in the moment when the Duke offer was given?
I was very happy, that was something I had wanted for awhile and it was great to hear it from the man himself Coach Cutcliffe. It was very official and it was the best way to get it with it just being very straight up from him with their whole reasoning for why they wanted to offer and why they do what they do. I loved it.
Has Coach Roper had you talking a lot with Coach Cutcliffe since the offer?
I’ve gotten to see him at camps and stuff and we talked about scheduling a meeting in the summer where Coach Cutcliffe and I could sit down and really talk about things man to man or maybe watch some film, all that good stuff. They’ve told me to keep doing what I’m doing because they know I haven’t been playing quarterback for a long time, but they tell me that the sky is limit with me, stay humble and keep working hard. Coach Cutcliffe talks a lot about knowing the game from the head down first, don’t’ do anything before you know what you are doing with something.
I know a lot of programs these days bring in two QBs in the same class as a common practice, how do you feel about potentially doing that?
I wouldn’t back away from anything and it wouldn’t stop me from committing to a school if that’s where my heart was really at. I’m not afraid to compete with anybody because I feel like my skill set and my ability matches up against anybody’s. It wouldn’t stop me from committing anywhere if I’m sure that’s where I really wanted to go.
Are you shaping up to potentially graduate high school early?
I’ve thought about that and that’s something that if the school I commit to wants to look at me doing, we can see how that goes after I talk about it with my mom and the coaches, especially if I have a chance to go in and play early like as a sophomore or junior. If I don’t feel rushed that’s fine too, like Wake Forest told me they hated doing it if you are a quarterback, so it just depends on what the school says. I’ve asked the Duke coaches what they think about it and they have told me that’s it’s pretty much up to you, whatever you feel like you want to do is good with us. They told me it’s cool and thought it would work out in my favor if I came early, but if I wanted to just enjoy my senior year, then I could just go ahead and do that too. I haven’t looked too deep into yet with Duke.