Shoop, Part III: Fitting the Mold

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. --- Evaluating high school quarterbacks is a different world these days for college recruiters. With the proliferation of spread offenses, how does someone who runs a pro-style offense know if a particular quarterback can translate success from the shotgun?

It is a question that causes NFL scouts to lower the stock of quarterbacks who come from a spread system in college. Is it as much of a concern to colleges when looking at high school quarterbacks? John Shoop, UNC's offensive coordinator, doesn't think so.

"I think anybody coming from high school to college has huge adjustments, Braden (Hanson) will tell you the same thing," Shoop said. "He was in the shotgun and in the spread, and the biggest adjustment isn't whether I am in the gun or under the center, the biggest adjustment is how fast everybody is going."

Still, there's a difference between operating from under center -- mastering the footwork and mechanics involved in three- and five-step drops, understanding and executing play action -- and standing back in the shotgun play-after-play. How does the UNC staff decide if a quarterback has "it" to play under center?

"I never want to take a quarterback, and I don't think Coach Davis ever wants to take a quarterback, that hadn't been in our camp, where we get to kick the tires, he gets to kick our tires," Shoop said. "We put them under center and we have all these drops. Bryn (Renner) came to our camp and was just awesome under center. It was not a leap of faith in any way, shape, or form, it was like he had been doing it his whole life."

It isn't just the quarterbacks that get scrutinized for their ability to transition to an NFL offense.

"I don't know the exact number, but something like the last 24 offensive players we've signed, a large percentage have been in our camp," Shoop said. "That is a big deal to Coach Davis and all the coaches on our staff."

Finding out in camp whether an offensive recruit has what it takes to fit into Shoop's offensive system is just the beginning of the process. The real adjustments come later on, when those freshmen show up and have to go up against UNC's defense. That's a rude awakening for players adjusting from "high school speed."

"Once we evaluate whether the guy can do it, operate from under the center in our summer camp, the difference is just going to be the speed of everyone, how small the windows are that you've got throw the ball into," Shoop said. "That's the difference, the speed, and how tight the windows are, and how quick the holes close and things like that, not whether they were under center or in the shotgun.

"In our spring football, what we see is just about as fast as anybody is going to see in the country. There were some weeks where thank goodness we got to the game because the practice against our own team was tough."

Check back tomorrow for Part IV from Inside Carolina's one-on-one interview with John Shoop …

Inside Carolina's Buck Sanders sat down with UNC offensive coordinator John Shoop earlier this month for a one-on-one interview. This is Part III of a five-part series running all this week from that interview session.
Part I: No Excuses
Part II: Bouncing Back
Part III: Fitting the Mold
Part IV: Thursday
Part V: Friday

For even more insider analysis, stay tuned for the comprehensive "Offseason Report" in the March Issue of the Inside Carolina Magazine, due out next month, featuring interviews with offensive coordinator John Shoop and defensive coordinator Everett Withers.

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