The highlight video starts, Guns N' Roses blaring away from my speakers and yeah, I smile, trying to live vicariously through some youthful confidence, but as the video rolls, any thoughts I had of being empathetic diminish. This kid is good.
It's part of a web-site, his own as a matter of fact. "DavidWolke.com". A site regaling the young QB for his statistical achievements, with videos to back it up.
The music selection for David's highlight video isn't a matter of chance, but a direct reflection of Wolke himself. Fiery, fast, energetic and as to the reputation of the artists responsible for the first tune in David's compilation of great moments past, there's a definite edge as well.
It's an edge that David is all too eager to share, because as he says, it's what he is and that's that. "If someone knocks me down, if I'm not dead and my back isn't broke, I am going to get back up and laugh at you."
Don't try to misunderstand that statement as anything more or less than what it is, but don't try to over analyze it as well. It's more illustration of the man than it is an adjective of his character, because David is sure of himself and what he can do. "I think I am the best when I am out there." he said. "I don't care how big you are or how tough you are. That's just the way I am."
That might qualify as the understatement of the year as listening to his voice, hearing certain inflections as he talked about the game, you could look at him as the bull, the end zone being the muleta, always there, always beckoning or perhaps in David's case, daring him every minute of every contest.
That's just the way David would have it. "The better the competition, the more I like it." Wolke stated. "I never think I am going to lose though. You can't. You have to think you are going to win and I do."
With each budding star in the sports arena, they tend to find in older more prominent athletes a certain direction if not an idol. David would hardly strike you as any sort of idol-worshiper, but there is one player he appreciates and emulates as much as he can. "Brett Favre is my favorite player." David said. "He's as tough as they come and I like the way he plays."
There have been varied ways to describe Brett Favre, none being associated with subtlety. And, like Favre, David himself finds no satisfaction in being nice about his intentions nor is he about to placate the politically correct masses by saying the right thing, rather he'll do and say what's on his mind.........period.
If you think that's simply cliche' and not really a reflection of his nature, ask him just how good he is. "I'm the best...........anywhere." David said. "I'll take on anyone and beat them. That's how I have always been. When I am on the field, I don't think you can beat me."
Though his record wouldn't bear that argument out completely, his aforementioned highlight film lends a certain credibility to his words. If not for the actual fact of wins vs. losses, there is no denying the tenacity in which Wolke plays and presents himself on the field.
He is indeed fiery. He is indeed tough and reiterates completely the bullish analogy into finding that end zone anyway he can, whether it be by land or by air.
Wolke's statistics would tell you that he has bettered himself each year, both passing and running. While you would look at the sheer yardage in his sophomore year vs. his junior year and wonder as to the reason for the decrease, the answer to that question is simple. "We changed offenses." David said. "My sophomore year, we were four-wide out of a shotgun set and were throwing it all the time. Last year, we were more of a pro-style, one-back set, but we kept the 4-wide."
"We just needed to give the defense something different or else they would have been playing back on us all the time."
And as we delved into formations, plays and schemes, I realized another side to Wolke, perhaps just as prominent (believe it or not) as his rather boisterous mind-set. And, that was his head for the game. One simple inquiry as to what he did once at the line of scrimmage prompted a five-minute annotation, his eyes looking at linebackers, match-ups, gaps, defensive alignments, all while figuring out which blocking scheme to audible to and then, a play would be ran.
It was obvious that with all due respect to his omnipresent voracity, this young man definitely has a head for the game.
It's made for some accolades from around the country, not the least of which is our own national talent-guru, Jamie Newberg as he critiqued this Tennessee talent.
"David is one of the top quarterback prospects from the Southeast this season. He has good size and surprising speed and mobility. Wolke can escape the initial rush and make a play with his arm or leg. He has a good arm and throws a great deep ball. Simply put, he is your prototype QB that can sit in the pocket and make all the throws yet he still has pretty good speed and quickness to make something happen if his pass protection fails." - Jamie Newberg/TheInsiders.com
All this would bring us to the inevitable, that being the attention David is getting from schools around the country and quite reflective of David's versatility, the schools and the offenses employed at those schools waxes equal in spanning the spectrum.
Mississippi that employs more passing than running, mostly due to the QB there at the present (Eli Manning), Michigan that you could characterize as a typical "pro-style" set, I-formation, 3 and 4 wide receivers and then there's Nebraska, notorious if not infamous for running the ball ad nauseam, the quarterback sharing much of the ground-gaining burden, though that is allegedly going to change this up-coming year.
It's almost as wide an array of schools in offensive schemes as you can get that have offered this young man, so even though David is willing to do it, what's in writing is speaking volumes for him instead.
Which brings us ultimately to the "jist" of it all, but considering his location, it prompts to me a question in that Tennessee is quite known for not letting it's best in-state talent outside of it's southern borders, so rather than ask him who he likes, I inquired as to whether there was anyone that he likes more than Tennessee. "I'm a fan." David said of the Vols. "There's no way around that. I grew up watching them. It's not going to have a thing to do with my decision though. They have a lot of the things I like, but I am considering everyone and nobody is a leader right now."
Would you expect anything different from a young man that knows to wait is simply to get that much more attention? Attention he isn't shying away from one bit. "I'm loving every minute of it." he said.
I realize that within some of you, a certain hesitation exists. He's not just confident, he's too confident. He isn't just sure of himself, he's darn near uppity.
I would argue against that particular opinion though, because in my conversation with David, I came away with a very distinct idea of this young man.
What he is, is fearless, not afraid to fail, but denying that it's even a possibility. He's fluid, in action and in ability. David is also "real" in that he's not pretending to be something he isn't, rather staying as true to himself in being exactly what he is and making the most out of it.
When you sit back, think of the leader of your team and wonder in a hypothetical tone just what you want for a field-general, can you honestly say that David's ideology is that much different from what you would like to see on the field?
Harkening back to his highlight video, music blaring, "Welcome to the Jungle" segueing into AC/DC's "Stiff Upper-Lip", whether it be illustration or manifestation, this book is quite discernible by it's cover. No pretense, no illusions, just pure, real and ready. What you have is David Wolke.
Welcome to his Jungle
Steve Ryan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 402-730-5619