It wasn't that long ago when Ryan Mallet
was the NU QB Academy, just a sophomore. But it took you about five
seconds to see this kid had something special. He was ultimately one of
the most recruited quarterbacks for the class of 2007.
That's how it is with these types of camps: You may go into one thinking about one thing or one player and come out thinking about someone else entirely.
For this particular Academy, it was about Tyler Gabbert.
He had just made his decision to be a Husker. So, everyone's ears were perked and eyes were peeled looking for any news regarding just how he did.
He was the MVP, of course.
But while everyone is thinking about the future, perhaps this year and next year, wondering where Gabbert will fit in, the Husker staff wasn't sitting on its laurels enjoying the moment. They had spotted someone else at that camp, someone who ironically knows Gabbert as he and the future Husker have become fairly good friends.
That's Christian Suntrup.
A 6-3, 205 lbs. prototypical QB with mobility, he may not even be going into his senior year like Gabbert, but he's already gotten a wealth of playing time as a prep:
16 games as a starter, five his freshman year, notching up a career total thus far of 138 passing completions on 226 attempts (61%) for 1,878 yards and 14 touchdowns. Plus Suntrup had three more touchdowns on the ground.
It's little wonder why Nebraska felt enough strong enough about Suntrup to bring him in, but after his camp their overall opinion was pretty obvious.
An offer. A verbal one, of course, as the coaches can't officially offer anyone in writing until Sept. 1 of their junior year. But he's getting one. He knows it. Not a bad start for a kid who still has two years of prep ball to play. "I wasn't expecting it. I know that. I just wanted to do the best I could, learn some things and just go from there," said Suntrup who had camped at Iowa and Missouri prior to heading to Lincoln. "I got so much out of the experience, because I was there for three days. So to get that offer on top of that was something pretty special."
Not a bad story to share with Gabbert, who sent Suntrup a text after he found out about the offer. "He just sent me a text congratulating me, which wasn't a surprise, because we have gotten to know each other pretty well and we throw it around every now and then," he said. "It's one of those thing that happen in a way you really don't think about, because you are just focused on what you are doing and just getting better."
Nebraska is the first offer, but you can bet it won't be the last, Suntrup already with plans to be at Stanford this very weekend along with a team 7-on-7 camp at Notre Dame in two weeks, a potential visit to Wisconsin and a camp at Northwestern at the end of July. Add that to what he's done already, which includes attending the University of Colorado Spring Game, he may be a young recruit, but he's still getting close to the full recruiting experience.
But Suntrup says that will come to a halt sometime soon.
It's not that he doesn't appreciate it, but let's be realistic, like many we have covered this early recruiting season, he hasn't even gotten into his junior year. Chaminade College Prep. (St. Louis) isn't a traditional football powerhouse, but back-to-back seven-win seasons has Christian hopeful for much more. It's what he says means more than anything right now, so when this little tour of sorts is done, he's going back to what he says stands atop of his list of priorities now and for the foreseeable future. "I am definitely not going to let this recruiting get to me, because I know I have a lot of time and honestly, it's all about my junior season and my Chaminade football team," he said. "We had a couple of guys from here before who left for D-1, and they didn't make their decision until later, like going into their senior year.
"So, I have some time, and the most important things for me right now are my team, my coaches and my school."
OK, we do have to get to the impression, though, not just from the offer he received from Nebraska, but from Nebraska itself. Between the camping experience and what he saw, even if recruiting isn't a big deal right now, can he see Nebraska as a significant part of that process down the line? "I am keeping my options completely open right now, but I have to say that I did like Nebraska a lot," he said. "It's a great coaching staff. I got to meet Coach Pelini and Coach Watson. The facilities are great and I have heard they have a great academic support program.
"Plus, even though I didn't get a chance to walk on the field in the stadium, I heard that on game day that place is just unreal. So, I definitely want to get up to see a game for myself."
So, that's it. There ya go. Nebraska's first quarterback offer for the class of 2011. Well, that we know of right now. And Suntrup looks like his name is going to be getting more and more popular not in the months to come, but probably in the up-coming weeks. After that, though, it's back to business for him and for recruiting fans they have two more years to watch, wait and wonder.
But we have no doubt that Suntrup will make that time worth watching him and his recruiting very closely.
Suntrup currently has a 3.7 GPA
Suntrup on what he took away most from his NU-QB Academy experience: "Something they emphasize a lot at Nebraska was that a successful quarterback is someone that knows the game. A couple of quarterbacks came in and talked about the transition from high school to college. In high school you can just use your athleticism, but in college they are just as good if not better. You have to use your mind, because that is as important to your game if not more at the college level."