For a California kid, summer time is usually the perfect chance to hit the beach and maybe even dabble in some surfing.
Or at least you’d think that.
When that California kid has his sights set on being a starting quarterback at one of the top programs in the SEC someday soon, well, the beach will just have to wait.
Hayden Rettig isn’t spending a bunch of time on the sand this summer. Instead he’s taking summer classes with an eye toward graduating after the first semester of his senior year at Cathedral High in Los Angeles.
Once that is accomplished, Rettig will head to Baton Rouge as a cornerstone in LSU’s 2013 recruiting class.
“There’s no off time for me,” Rettig said. “I’ve been working hard every day, going to school to get ahead and getting my workouts in. I’m finishing up my classes so I can graduate at semester and get down there as soon as I can.”
Part of Rettig’s summer includes his ongoing recovery from an ACL injury to his right knee, an injury that cost him most of his junior season.
The 6-foot-4, 220-pound Rettig said he returned to full contact toward the end of the school year and has been going full-steam ahead this summer.
“The knee hasn’t been hurting at all,” Rettig said. “I haven’t had a lot of contact, but when I have gotten hit, it doesn’t hurt. My doctor has told me my knee is as strong as it’s ever been. I’m the kind of guy who’s just going to go out and play the game like I always have.”
If that’s the case, Rettig could be in for a monster senior season.
Prior to blowing his knee out in 2011, Rettig played two games for Cathedral. He passed for 530 yards and 6 touchdowns – those are not typos – in the Phantoms’ season opener and then 294 yards the following week before the knee injury halted his season.
So were those early performances aberrational or a snapshot of what Rettig could do this season and beyond?
“Seeing Rettig this spring, you first notice how much better he looks physically than he did last spring, and even during the season,” Scout.com’s West Coast-based national recruiting analyst Brandon Huffman said. “This is encouraging, given his knee injury and inability to move around and run since the fall.
“He looks like he’s fine physically now and mechanically, he’s better than he’s ever been. The ball just zips out of his hand and he's got really good spin and the ability to place it where only his receivers can catch it. He's got one of the stronger arms of any Western quarterback. He’s never been much of a mobile quarterback, but that’s not what makes him dangerous. It’s his arm strength and touch. If he can continue to improve his decision-making (which was spotty as a sophomore, but showing signs of improvement as a junior), the sky is the limit for him.”
And the sky Rettig will operate under will be in the toughest conference in the country.
Not that the idea of suiting up for the Tigers and flinging the ball around stadiums packed with thousands of fans seems to faze Rettig in the slightest.
“I love the idea of playing in the SEC and facing the best defenses in the country,” Rettig said. “I’m pretty pumped up about getting down there and seeing what kind of offense we’re going to run.”
As Huffman mentioned, in Rettig, LSU is landing a pro-style, throwing QB who could fit in well once Zach Mettenberger has moved on. The offense won’t be built around him running the option or scrambling when plays break down.
Instead, Rettig projects as a good fit with the stable of running backs the Tigers have now and continue to recruit. Like Mettenberger, Rettig has a chance to thrive in a system based on a strong running game when the quarterback can benefit from play action.
Rated as the No. 23 quarterback in the Class of 2013, Rettig makes no bones about what his strengths are.
“I like to throw the football a lot,” Rettig said. “I like to manage the game. If the defense gives me a shot to throw, I’m going to make completions. A lot of quarterbacks try to throw the deep ball all the time and force the ball through windows. I want to get the ball to guys who can make the plays.”
In fact, one of those future playmakers is headed to LA to hang out with his future quarterback.
Barbe tight end Desean Smith, who recently revealed his commitment to the Tigers, will make the trek west to spend time with Rettig. The two became friends last summer and have stayed in contact in anticipation of their future relationship.
“He’s coming out here
and we’re going to throw the ball around and get used to each other,” Rettig
said. “Desean is a big key to our future and I want to make sure we’re very
comfortable with each other.”
That comfort level is only the beginning. Rettig made sure he removed any doubt about his plans.
“You can tell the fans that I’ll be there in January of 2013 no doubt,” Rettig said. “I’m 100% committed to being a Tiger and I can’t wait because it’s something I’ve been working hard my whole life for the chance to be play for a program like LSU.”