The Quarterbacks Arrive: QB Academy '05

The Nebraska Quarterback Academy kicked off today, some 80 signal-callers from around the country coming to Lincoln to learn, exercise what they learned and compete against one another. Sophomores to be all the way to the seniors to be, some of the best in out of the state showed up. Of course, future Husker Josh Freeman was there exhibiting what has Husker fans so excited, but believe it or not, since the last time he was at Nebraska, he's only gotten better.

There was probably a brief disappointment from the fact that one of the stars of last year's first QB academy at Nebraska; Ryan Mallet, didn't make the trip to Lincoln this year.

 

That disappointment was replaced quickly, though, players like North Platte's Nathan Enderle, Wisner-Pilger's Brian Gralheer and Zac Taylor's little brother; Press, who's a standout QB out of Norman, Oklahoma.

 

That's some of the players for the immediate future, but there was plenty of talent down the road, none making jaws drop more than Omaha North's Phillip Bates Jr.

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Phillip Bates Jr.

The first thing that jumps out at you is his forty-time, Bates blazing a trail at an eye-popping 4.9 clip; just sixth-tenths of a second slower than teammate Niles Paul, who ran his forty in the second session of Nebraska's Summer camps.

 

At 6 foot, 1 inch tall and weighing right around 190 pounds, you had to marvel not just at where Bates is at, but of course, where he'll be.

 

In the first part of the quarterback competition, Bates was a little off the mark, but he showed that for the next two years, Omaha North is going to get a kid with a solid arm, pretty good mechanics, but even more deadly, his ability to improvise out of the pocket and use that blazing speed to get downfield when needed.

 

It's not hard to see that he'll be recruited heavily at some point, but many schools will see him first as a defensive player rather than on the offensive side of the ball.

 

That's not happening according to Phillip Jr., though, because he likes the ball in his hands. "That's what I have always played, so that's what I want to play," Bates said. "I think it will be something I will eventually do alright at."

 

Bates could one day be a Husker, making him the second half of a father-son duo, Phillips Bates Sr. a fullback for the big red in the early eighties, eventually being drafted by the Detroit Lions in the second round. The elder Bates said of his son and his rather untested ability at quarterback; "I think he's going to surprise a few people one of these days."

 

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Travis Washington

He'll have help, Omaha North setting itself up with some young and spectacular talent, Bates accompanied by a second-session star in Athlete, Niles Paul . Both are juniors to be, so this isn't the last you'll hear about either. Chances are, the press on these kids has only just begun.

 

Another that is likely to get some press for a couple of reasons is Bradenton, Florida's Travis Washington . First, because he's a versatile dual-threat QB, standing over 6 foot, 2 inches tall, weighing 200+ pounds, he's got the size, but his 4.65 forty will also tell you he's got some pretty decent speed.

 

That's one reason his name will be remembered, but being the cousin of former Husker Fabian Washington doesn't hurt as well. No doubt Travis wouldn't mind joining his cousin in the big leagues, but he'll have some time to wait, like Bates, Washington is going to be just a junior this year. Last year as a part of an option-type offense, Washington had 600 yards passing and 400 yards on the ground as a sophomore.

 

Two in-state quarterbacks that made the trek to Lincoln were the aforementioned Enderle and Gralheer and both showed a little of why they could have a pretty fruitful career at the next level.

 

Gralheer has the arm, plus he was heating up in the competition as it went on, starting off slowly, but catching fire at the end. Not overly big, standing right around 6 foot, 2 inches tall, but he showed a solid arm, plus in the earlier drills, he had pretty solid feet.

 

As a junior for Wisner-Pilger, Gralheer had 987 yards in the air, scoring 11 times, plus rushing for another 3 TDs.

 

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Nathan Enderle

For a brief take on Nathan Enderle , here's what fellow staff-writer and camp analyst Justin Stoller had to say as he checked Enderle's progress all day.

 

Nathan has great size at 6'4 and showed off during the first day of Nebraska's Elite Quarterback Camp while he will probably be the highest rated quarterback in Nebraska this season.  I watched Nathan a lot tonight and have also seen him play in a game before.  He has decent footwork and a real live arm.  I think Nathan prefers to throw the deep ball or a slant and seems to have his only problems with the out throws.  That is very common for a lanky kid in high school.  There's obviously hope from the local fan base that Nebraska can lure Nathan into walking on and developing some more under Coach Norvell. 

Speaking of hope, there's plenty placed upon the shoulders of Zac Taylor as he tries to guide Nebraska back to prominence with the second-year version of the west coast offense at NU.

 

His little brother is taking on some of those burdens himself, albeit at a somewhat smaller level. Press Taylor , showing every bit the family resemblance showed that it's not just his face that strikes you somewhat familiar as to his older sibling, but his style of throwing as well.

 

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Press Taylor

Basically, Press throws a good ball.

 

A nice smooth delivery, a decent arm and expectedly good feet, Press isn't the biggest kid out there, standing right around 6 foot tall, but he's fluid in his motion and very deliberate in his release.

 

I like that, because it often times means that he's not prone to shaky decisions under pressure situations, something his brother is known for as well.

 

There's a ton more quarterback to cover, something we'll do in our next camp report, but where would we be without an endless barrage of data on future Husker Josh Freeman ?

 

First of all, Josh didn't make it to the warm-up sessions, Freeman just finishing a 7 on 7 tournament this morning, where his team went undefeated, beating the likes of Missouri powers Rockhurst and Blue Springs . Well, he hit the road after that, making it just in time for the first portion of the competition.

 

Your initial impression of Josh, especially if you hadn't seen him since he was at NU's QB academy last year is that he's gotten a lot bigger since then. Stouter, stronger and even quicker, Freeman looks like he's ready to step onto the field for NU right now.

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Josh Freeman in action

 

He didn't disappoint in the competition either, starting off cold, but heating up quickly, finishing second overall on the evening with 12 points, just two shy of the leader; Billings, Montana's Mark Desin.

 

Freeman has it all and because he's raw and can still make virtually all the throws, his up-side, as we have talked about on end, is sky high at this point. Tonight, he gave nobody any reason to think otherwise.

 

Freeman coming back to this camp, though, that in and of itself is pressure as people just wondered about him last year, curious about this giant QB from the show-me state, but now, they aren't wondering, they are expecting and a lot.

 

Even future Husker Harrison Beck didn't win when he attended that same camp last year, but the expectations of Huskers fans are what they are. Freeman is in a good spot right now and seems to be throwing well, but we'll keep you updated as to his progress and results as the competition continues.

 

It will, tomorrow, that including of course the lessons that all of these quarterbacks come to learn. Like the summer sessions for the regular campers, it's a time to test your mettle, but it's also an opportunity to leave better than you came in.

 

For players like Gralheer, Enderle, Omaha Burke's Jared Hyland and Omaha Gross' Steve Heiman, it could be the difference between a lot of recruiting attention or not as each, either for this year or beyond is trying to make a name for themselves under center.

 

Stay tuned tomorrow for more on Nebraska 's second annual QB academy as we give you some of the results, run down the risers, dippers and those that are maintaining their position, plus photo galleries of the whole thing. Plus, we'll touch on even more quarterbacks as we haven't even scratched the surface, Nebraska bringing in some top signal callers from around the country.

 

All that and more tomorrow


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