Maryland secured an on-the-spot commitment from Frankfort (Ridgeley, W.Va.) quarterback Gage Shaffer June 7, and a day later his head coach, Kevin Whiteman, chimed in on the 6-foot-7, 220-pounder.
Here's our Q&A with Whiteman:
Terrapin Times: Coach, Gage's commitment came as a bit of a shock. It was kind of out of nowhere. How did it all go down with Maryland?
Kevin Whiteman: I'll be honest, I was shocked when I got the call. I hadn't talked to Coach Edsall before [June 7]. He gave me a call around 2 p.m. in the afternoon and said Gage was down there for the camp and he really liked him when he walked in. He said he was amazed by his size, and when he watched him throw the ball he was impressed with his arm strength. Then he asked me some basic questions about Gage and said he'd give me a call back later that night or the next day to talk more about him.
Well, a couple hours later he's calling me back and said they gave him a full ride. And that was that.
TT: Well there you go. And he took it on the spot. I'm guessing he had a chance to hash things out with his parents while he was on campus?
KW: He did. His father was there with him and they talked things over there. I called Gage on his phone and I told him Maryland is a great school, it's great academically and a good football program that's going to the Big Ten. I told him he should probably just jump on it, and that's what he did.
TT: Did Gage tell you what he liked about Maryland -- the coaches, the academics, the campus?
KW: He said they took him on a tour of the whole campus and he really liked that, and he really liked Coach Edsall and connected with him. He said he could see himself being there for four years or so. Of course Maryland is a great academic school, and Gage liked that as well, and it's a chance to play major college football.
But I think the fact that Coach Edsall thought enough to offer him right there at the camp, I think that meant a lot to Gage and his father. It didn't take them long to decide after that.
TT: What does Gage bring to the table as a quarterback? What kind of a player is he?
KW: Well, he's been starting for us since midway through his freshman year. Obviously he has a big frame, and I think that's what Coach Edsall liked in him. And he's got a strong arm, he's accurate, he's intelligent and he gets the job done for you.
TT:Can you compare Gage to another quarterback at the college or NFL level just to give fans an idea how he plays? I mean, the size and his looks remind me of Mike Glennon a little bit…
KW: I really don't know who I'd compare him to; that's hard to do. He plays like Gage Shaffer (laughs).
I'll tell you he's a pocket passer who can do some roll-outs. We're mainly a pocket team, but once in awhile he'll roll out. I know Coach Edsall was saying Gage needs to work on his footwork, that was the biggest thing, and also his speed. They timed him at a 5.1 in the 40-yard dash so he'll be working on that some.
TT: Maryland does run the zone-read. How do you think Gage will adjust to that type of offense?
KW: I think he'll be OK in that system. Once he gets down there and works on football stuff year round, and with college coaches, he'll be fine. At Maryland he'll be focusing on football year-round and doing things with that every day, and Gage is the type of kid to learn quickly and pick things up quickly. So I expect him to be fine once he gets his footwork down and all that.
TT: Some people were wondering about the level of competition Gage has faced at Frankfort. What kind of opponents are you guys going up against?
KW: We play a few schools in Maryland and the area around here, and sometimes we'll play schools with higher numbers. But it really varies from week to week. There are some lesser opponents on our schedule that maybe don't present the best competition. We do play some very good schools, but it's nothing like he's going to see each weekend at Maryland.
Definitely the speed of the game he sees now, that won't be anything close to what he's going to see in the Big Ten. So he'll probably take a redshirt year to get used to that kind of competition.
TT: Is there anything else Gage needs to work on to get ready for Maryland? I know you said footwork…
KW: I think he's got good arm strength and accuracy, but that can always get better. Like Coach Edsall was saying, everyone has things they need to work on. My big thing is the footwork. He's going to have to work on that every day, doing drills with the coaches and by himself every day, because it takes a lot to get your feet ready for that level of play.
But he's going to get better with that. He's going to be working with those coaches, and they're going to get him right. Our coaches do a great job here, but we're high-school coaches in a one-horse town. He's going to have great coaches at Maryland coaching him up.
TT:What's Gage like as a person. He seems like a down-to-earth, respectful kid…
KW: Oh Gage is a fine young man. He's great to be around, he does well in school and he gets along well with his peers. I'm around him a lot because he dates my niece, and I can tell you he's a great kid. He's the kind of person who is just easy to be around and gets along with everyone.
TT:What about on the field – is he a rah-rah guy or more of a laid back type?
KW: He's not a rah-rah type, but he's not one to be passive either. He takes charge in the huddle and he'll put guys in their place if need be. And if he makes a mistake, he's not going to crumble. He knows his role as a quarterback, and he'll take charge and lead the team.
TT:How did Gage develop as a quarterback? How long has he been playing?
KW: Well, he's been playing since he was real little. He's always been a quarterback, and he's got very good family support, and they helped him out with that as far as coaching and training.
When he came to us, he basically was on varsity from the start – he had that kind of size and talent. He started midway through his freshman year, then his sophomore year he threw for 1,500 yards and last year he threw for a little more than 1,200. We're mainly a running team, so those numbers would be higher if we threw the ball more. But one year Gage was second-team all-state and another year he was honorable mention.
Coach Speak: Kevin Whiteman on Gage Shaffer
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