Scouting Report: Gage Shaffer

Frankfort (Ridgeley, W.Va.) senior quarterback Gage Shaffer, who has been committed to Maryland since the summer, has his team sitting at 9-0 heading into the last week of the regular season. Terrapin Times recently acquired raw game footage of the 6-foot-7, 210-pounders first nine games and put together an in-depth scouting report based on said film.

Frankfort (Ridgeley, W.Va.) senior quarterback Gage Shaffer, who has been committed to Maryland since the summer, has his team sitting at 9-0 heading into the last week of the regular season. Terrapin Times recently acquired raw game footage of the 6-foot-7, 210-pounders first nine games and put together an in-depth scouting report based off of said film. Check out our report below:


Physically, Shaffer has ideal qualities for an FBS pocket passer, standing 6-7 with mitt-sized hands and long fingers. He’s lithe and a little gangly, and a bit of a plodder with his big feet, but Shaffer’s height alone makes him an intriguing prospect. Right now he mainly operates out of the shotgun, which is where he does his best work, executing a spread/West Coast system. Once in awhile you’ll see him take snaps in a pro-style, but it’s fairly clear his future is probably brightest standing several yards behind center. Now, Shaffer isn’t exactly a statue in the pocket, but rarely will he roll out or scramble. He prefers to step up, scan the field and let his arm do the talking.

Currently, Shaffer’s most marketable quality is his arm strength, one of the most important physical traits when projecting a quarterback to the next level. This guy can fling the ball downfield with ease, almost effortlessly tossing it 45-plus yards. Even when Shaffer’s throwing off his back foot he can flick it 35 yards or more without completely exhausting himself. He’s rarely asked to execute passes longer than 40 to 45 yards, but -- if given a clean pocket and time to set up -- we could easily see Shaffer tossing it 55 to 60 yards.

In terms of throwing motion, Shaffer has an easy, overtop delivery and delivers a very catchable pass. Shaffer gets good air under his deep throws and shows the propensity to drop the ball in the bucket, right overtop defenders. On screens and intermediate routes, he has above-average touch and typically gives his wideouts a chance to make a play. Shaffer can put some zip behind his throws as well, and he does have the ability to thread the needle. He can fit passes between defenders and find receivers settled in the middle of zones.

In the pocket, Shaffer displays plenty of poise and doesn’t become rattled in the face of a rush, or if a play breaks down. Many high school quarterbacks tend to have “happy feet” when they’re being pressured, but Shaffer keeps his cool and will step up. While he’s not the most mobile guy out there, Shaffer can sidestep a rush and roll out if he has to. Even when defenders are collapsing in, he keeps his eyes focused downfield and looks for receivers to come open.

There are several areas Shaffer needs to shore up before he can be an FBS contributor, however. First and foremost, his form lacks consistency. Shaffer has an evident hitch in his delivery, and he tends to drop his elbow. It follows that his arm angles can get out of whack, ranging from over the top to three-quarters to sidearm. Some quarterbacks can get away with that, but in Shaffer’s case he ends up throwing behind receivers, sailing throws or short-arming the ball. His pure arm strength and touch allow him to complete some extremely difficult passes, but he’ll also miss his share of “gimmes.”

Some of Shaffer’s accuracy issues could improve once he masters his footwork. Shaffer doesn’t always step into his passes, and he has a propensity to throw off his back foot. When that happens, Shaffer’s throws are either off-target, lack zip, or both. That’s dangerous when he tries to find a receiver ranging over the middle. Again, he tends to get away with it now, but college linebackers feast on soft floaters served up on a silver platter.

Also, while Shaffer can get the ball out quickly, too often his release is deliberate. Especially on deeper throws, his motions tend to be methodical, and it takes him awhile to wind up. That can be a problem when Shaffer attempts to throw across his body, leaving the ball hanging for an opportunistic defender. Now, Shaffer’s not a riverboat gambler and he generally makes sound decisions, but he has to be careful when attempting to complete those intermediate-to-long deep outs that always seem to get picked off at the college level.

Moreover, sometimes Shaffer will misread the defense and fail to go through his progressions. You do see him look off defenders from time to time, but he frequently latches onto his first read and telegraphs his pass. Most of the defensive backs he’s seeing now don’t have the instincts or athleticism to take advantage, but it’s a different ballgame at college football’s top level, where field awareness is every bit as important as pure talent.

And while Shaffer’s mainly in the shotgun, he has taken his share of snaps directly under center. He’s been OK in a pro-style set, but the issue is his feet tend to get garbled on three- and five-step drops. Unless he’s exclusively going to be a shotgun quarterback, that’s another area Shaffer will have to hone.

Also, when blitzing linebackers break through the line, Shaffer sometimes will adopt the dreaded “devil may care” attitude, simply flinging the ball downfield while falling backwards, hoping his wideout can make a play. The result is usually a dying-quail or a pass that sails out of bounds.

Speaking of sailing throws, Shaffer’s deep balls do float and flutter at times. Sure, he can drop the ball into a wide receiver’s outstretched arms, but consistency is once again the issue. He’ll need to improve his deep-ball accuracy, or FBS safeties are going to have a field day ranging under punt-like bombs.

And when Shaffer is forced from the pocket, it’s unlikely he will win many foot races when trying to elude in-coming defenders. He has deceptive athleticism for someone his size, but there is still a bit of awkwardness when attempting to scramble. (This will improve, however, as he becomes more coordinated and continues working on his feet.) That’s OK for a pocket passer, but just don’t expect Shaffer to execute a zone-read.

Finally, we’d like to see Shaffer build up his body so he can deal with the inevitable hits he’ll take in the Big Ten. Right now he’s still rather thin, and it would behoove him to pack on 15 to 20 pounds of muscle just so he can avoid injuries at the next level.

TerrapinTimes Top Stories