QB Academy a success for Stangel and co.

It's really unfair to paint the 2006 Elite Nebraska Quarterback Academy as a drama. After all, it's a place where kids come to be better quarterbacks and the training is as intense as any of them have seen. But there was drama. With names like Stangel, Heiman, Bates and Washington, there was certainly drama. And you could say everyone did their part in making it all worthwhile.

It would be hard to write a story much better than how it turned out for San Jacinto's Chasen Stangel. He has family in Nebraska, has liked Nebraska for awhile and came to Nebraska to show the Nebraska coaches what he could do.

John Morrow was the surprise as he
led the competition early, finishing
second

Consider that goal as accomplished, Stangel taking the top honors for all the seniors in the competitive rounds of the camp.

Even Stangel, the son of a quarterback coach, had to be happy with his performance. "I just wanted to do my best and see what I could do," Stangel said. "By winning, it's just an extra incentive."

Stangel had plenty of competition in trying to keep him from doing that, but one of his chief competitors wasn't exactly who everyone thought it would be. While Steve Heiman, Phillip Bates Jr. and Latravis Washington had good showings, it was Lincoln Pius QB John Morrow who pressed Stangel all the way to the end. Morrow actually held the overall lead after the first day of the camp.

Winning is one thing, but even for the diehard competitive natures of all these young men, it's not the only thing that this camp was about. It is about learning and with the tutoring of approximately 20 assistant coaches from all around the country, these kids got a force feeding of everything they wanted to know about being a good QB.

It's that experience and that of facing and meeting other quality QBs, which made Iowa State commit and Omaha North quarterback Phillip Bates Jr. come out with a smile on his face. "It's great to play with great players and Chasen is the best player I have ever seen," he said. "I came here to compete, but I also came to learn and take away something from the experience."

Most of the quarterbacks will say what they took away from it were arms made of jelly, the coaches, led by Nebraska quarterback coach Jay Norvell, pushing these kids to their limit. Throw after throw, drill after drill, this wasn't some day camp for vacationers. If you didn't want to learn, you needed to go someplace else, because according to some of the participants, this was as intense as you could get. "It's the most intense camp I have been to, but it's fun too," Chasen said. "It makes you want to do good for yourself, but for the coaches too."

Bates agreed. "It's intense, but it's making you better," he said. "The footwork are the key to your body and that's why I really like camps like this. They really go hard at you to get the best out of you."

One player who had to feel particularly good about his best was Heiman, who is set to play his senior year at Papillion La Vista after transferring from Omaha Gross. Last year, when he attended the Academy, he was already pretty proficient, but that's about where the similarities to this year stop.

He's bigger than he was last year, faster, stronger and more comfortable with what he can do. Basically, he's all around better than he's ever been in his life……

Stangel proved worthy of the hype
over his camp experience

and it showed. "I feel like my throwing motion, the speed of my release and my arm strength is a lot better than last year," Heiman said. "I felt like I was pretty consistent overall, which I think is my biggest strength."

"I'm more dead on now and everything I do, I do a lot more consistently than last year."

For both Heiman and Stangel, this was a debut of sorts. Bates was already going to Iowa State, so this was just a learning experience for him. Washington has already been offered by Nebraska as a safety, but this was just another chance for him to show his prowess as a QB. Chasen and Steve, though, this was a chance to get the thing that each wanted the most, and for Heiman, this was his opportunity to show not just the Nebraska coaches, but anyone that was there, he was the real deal.

Steve Heiman helped his stock with
solid camp performance
To that end, Heiman said that he was encouraged by what he heard from the coaches throughout the camp as they were giving him feedback on what they saw. "The thing I got from them is that they like me a lot, a lot better than last year," Heiman said of the Nebraska coaches. "They thought I improved quite a bit and thought I threw the ball really well."

As for Stangel, he hasn't heard anything directly, deferring most of the feedback to his dad, but he's very happy with what he wanted to do and what he actually accomplished. "I want to win at everything I do, so to win here, I'm happy," he said. "I felt that I did good at the camp and if Nebraska offers, I don't know that I would make a decision right now, but that would definitely help my process."

When it comes to Latravis Washington, you'd swear he could have fun at a wake. Laughing, enjoying the experience, Washington was serious when it came to the competition and learning, but always looking to have as much fun as he could possibly have during the three-day event. That's what he took away from the experience, but for someone who is already so intimate with Nebraska, this was a nice excuse to come back.

"Coming here is like going home to me," he said. "I love the weather. I love this town. It's just built around football and that's what I like. I'm just loving all of this."

That sounds like a young man who will eventually become a Cornhusker, but Washington said that he hadn't and wasn't planning to anytime soon. Don't take that as a negative, though, because it's the coaches that want him to enjoy his life as a recruit as much as he can. "They tell me to enjoy it and just take it all in," Washington said of the recruiting process. "They know how I feel. They know Nebraska is number one on my list."
Latravis Washington didn't win, but as he
put it, the camp was another chance to
get back to Lincoln


Asked about just who he's considering that might be a possible threat to the Huskers, Washington said that he hasn't found one just yet. "There's really nobody I am considering right now as seriously as I am Nebraska."

Heiman said that if he gets the offer from Nebraska, he'd still like to make sure it's the right place for him. Stangel, already with eight offers, said that if the offer came, it wouldn't be a shoo-in, because he also needs to make sure. Every indication, though, says that if either or even both received written offers, you'd be hard pressed to think of them wearing anything but scarlet and cream.

Is that what will happen? Will Stangel and Heiman both get their offers? That's where the drama comes in, the kind so typical of recruiting. The good thing is, they are both quarterbacks, a position Nebraska sorely needs.

That's not necessarily the drama coaches would promote when it comes to the Nebraska Elite Quarterback Academy. It's about learning more than it is about being an audition for the future. But the reality is what it is, and it's not such a bad thing when this is the stage where some stars are either born or found.

Chances are the number of Division 1-A kids, who have participated in this camp, which stands at seven, will move in double-digits after this year. Now, it's just a matter of where they are going that matters.

Stay tuned as it's only a matter of time before we'll see.

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