Bridgewater makes promising debut

Freshman phenom Teddy Bridgewater, who made a promising debut during Louisville's first practice Wednesday, has impressed teammates and coaches with his maturity and poise since arriving on campus.

Teddy Bridgewater, one of the most heralded recruits in Louisville football history, made his debut for the Cardinals during Wednesday's opening spring practice.

A four-star recruit and U.S. Army All-American, Bridgewater enrolled at UofL in January intent on learning Mike Sanford's spread offense this spring and earning the starting quarterback job next season.

"Everything was one hundred miles for him today during his first college practice," Louisville quarterback coach Shawn Watson said. "He should be getting a prom date right now, so he's out here going, ‘whoa.' But he'll find his way through it all because he has a real work ethic. When he puts the poise and understanding with his work ethic he'll do everything he can do to catch up."

Watson said that Bridgewater has to keep working on his timing and learning UofL's offensive terminology.

"Teddy's in China right now," said Watson. "Everybody is speaking a different language, but he will be okay. He's got a nice skill set. He's really a talented kid. He'll grow into it because he's a hard worker. He's got a real understanding – and football intelligence. It comes easy to him."

Bridgewater is battling senior Will Stein to be Louisville's starting quarterback. Despite his high school accolades, Charlie Strong has made clear that Bridgewater will have to earn the job by beating out the undersized Stein, a former walk-on from Trinity, on the field this spring.

"He's a pretty soft-spoken guy, but he works really hard," Stein said. "He's got all the talent and ability. He's got a great arm and good feet for a young guy. He's got to develop and learn the game on the mental side."

Senior wide receiver Josh Bellamy caught passes from both Stein and Bridgewater during the first practice. He also worked out with both players all winter, and believes that either player can fill the shoes left by Adam Froman and Justin Burke.

"I like Teddy, I like Stein," Bellamy said. "I like both of them. I'm trying to see who is going to be the starter. I don't even know yet. Both of them have strong arms. Whoever they pick is going to be a good decision."

Though Bridgewater overthrew a few wide receivers during a windy first practice, he settled down to make several excellent throws later in practice.

"He didn't surprise me because I've been working out with him since he got here," Bellamy said. "He's got so much touch. I've seen him stand on the 40 [yard line] and throw the ball in the garbage can in the back of the end zone. He's going to be interesting."

While he might not have Stein's experience, Bridgewater has impressed his teammates with his maturity since arriving on campus earlier this semester.

"He's probably younger than a normal freshman, but his mentality is older," Bellamy said. "We're together every day and he's got an older mentality. He doesn't act like a freshman."

His maturity - and poise – are the reasons Watson and Bellamy believe Bridgewater could command respect in the huddle if he does win the starting job.

"He's got a real nice poise," Watson said. "The things that are impressive about him is that he's got a real nice skill set, has good football intelligence and [strong] presence. He doesn't let anything shake him up."

"He's getting respect now and he doesn't say too much," said Bellamy. "He just comes out and performs. He's been working hard since he got here and has already put on about twenty pounds. He's got a good personality. He's a gamer."

Coming out of high school, scouts who watched Bridgewater during his career always described him as a winner who possessed the coveted "it" factor. Watson, a former offensive coordinator at Nebraska, has been impressed with Bridgewater's competitive nature.

"He plays better when he's playing against a defense," Watson said. "He's a competitor."

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