When I watched film of Brady Quinn, one thing that really stands out to me above all of his physical skills is his leadership. He just possesses a field generalship that the great ones have and he reminds me of Major Applewhite or Brett Favre in that way. I asked Coach Crabtree to talk about that. "It's a very rare situation for kids in high school to have that kind of leadership. You want your quarterback to be your best player and to possess those physical and mental intangibles but that doesn't come around very often. I predict great things for Brady at Notre Dame. Brady has things you just can't coach. They way he prepares for a game both mentally and physically. What I am not sure even the Notre Dame coaches know is that Brady is very coachable. Coachability is a very important thing at this level and I am sure at the next level. Brady probably knows some of the things I try to teach him but he accepts every piece of coaching I give him. You can tell he is focusing on what you are saying at all times and he wants to learn. Both players are very coachable. Brady understands that he has to execute our offense and he does whatever I ask him to do. I have never been around a kid like these two. I fully expect both of them to excel at Notre Dame."
Coach Crabtree also had some glowing remarks about his star receiver Chinedum Ndukwe. "First, people should know that both are very intelligent on and off the field. With Nedu, I think he is just starting to tap his potential on the field. He has so much talent and he is starting to realize it and that is no disrespect to him because he works very hard for us and does everything we ask of him. I think he is starting to understand the physical talents he has and how to best use those talents. He is really starting to develop into the player I think he can be. I think he will have even more potential down the road when he gets to Notre Dame. I think their coaches will bring out the very best in him. Once he gets there and finds his role on their team, I think he can become a great player for Notre Dame."
I told Coach Crabtree that Nedu reminds me of a Chris Carter type of player because he is such a physical player. "He is a big target. He is 6-3 and 200 pounds and I think he will get stronger. I don't think he will ever grow out of his position, I just think he will get stronger. He is a great athlete. He goes up to get the ball and he fights for the ball."
I hate using the term "possession receiver" because it infers a lack of speed but I asked Coach if that is where he saw his role. "Let me tell you, you need guys like that. You need guys that will fight for the ball. He isn't afraid of anything. He will go anywhere in the field and catch the ball. He catches every pass too. We use him on screens, fades, across the middle. For a possession receiver, he sure gets behind a lot of defensive backs. He has made a lot of big plays for this team over the last two years. He catches everything and he has great adjustment to the ball in the air. He has speed, he can get down field but when you have a guy with his physical body, you use him. He is a tough kid and you can count on him."
Coach Crabtree and I started to talk about the similarities in the Dublin Coffman offense and the Notre Dame offense I think we will see in the future. I asked Coach if that would be an advantage for Brady and Nedu. "I don't know enough about the Notre Dame offense to really say. I do think they are moving to a west coast offense and we run something similar here. You look for mismatches and you try to take advantage of those mismatches. In my experience in coaching, in order to be successful in this offense, you need to have that guy pulling the trigger. You have to have a quarterback that can run this offense. If you don't have that, you won't be very successful. I have only been here two years so Brady hasn't been in this system for very long. What I have noticed is how much he has improved in learning this offense. His touchdown to interception ratio has improved so much and so has his completion percentage. He has improved because he is very coachable and he listens. He has improved so much from this year to last year."
Attitude is an important thing in a team concept. Coach Crabtree and I spoke about the personalities of both Chinedum and Brady. I wanted to know what type of teammates they are. "Both players are competitive, they are competitors. One of the hardest jobs I have as a coach is to teach my players to be competitive in practice. The way you play in a game will be a result of the way you practice. People don't realize how important that is. They are very good practice players. I have spoken to them both about their practice habits and how important it is for them to compete in practice. They have always practiced hard for me but I wanted them to know their leadership sets an example for the young players and they have really stepped it up this year. Their practice habits allow them to do the things their athletic ability has given them. Both are team players. They care more about if the team wins than their own athletic achievements. They get very excited when someone else does something good for this team. Both are very much team players."
Coach Crabtree and I spoke more about leadership and where Brady is in terms of leadership on the field. "I would say he is a calm leader at this point but we are working on that. He has the respect and the trust of his teammates. It's time for him to take that next step. I keep telling him it's O.K. to be vocal. We are all working together as a team but it's O.K. to let everyone know you are in charge. He has always shown that positive leadership you need in a quarterback. He needs to understand that people should be held accountable. I hold him more accountable than anyone on this team because of his abilities and the position he plays. It's O.K. for him to hold others accountable as well. He honestly is a natural born leader. This team looks for his leadership and he gives it. That leadership is going to make him successful at Notre Dame."
Brady and Chinedum have been enjoying a successful season this year. Their team is currently 8-1 and has one more regular season game before they head into the state playoffs. Chinedum has 42 receptions this year for 607 yards and 8 touchdowns so far. Brady has 230 pass attempts and has completed 125. He has thrown for 1931 yards and 23 touchdowns while only throwing 4 interceptions. "They have both done an outstanding job for us this year and have been a large part of our success. "
Coach Crabtree wanted Notre Dame fans to know something else about these two student athletes. "They are better young men than they are football players and that is quite a compliment. It has been a big pleasure to coach both Brady and Chinedum. They are great kids and they listen. They have been successful because they both come from great families. Some of the best people you will meet. It's no accident that these two have succeeded so much in the classroom and on the football field. Their families have had a large part in that." I just want to say that I am in total agreement with Coach Crabtree on this last point. Both of their parents have been wonderful to me. Thanks to Coach Crabtree and the Ndukwe and the Quinn family for taking the time to speak with me this year.