Defying The Doubters

The names Parker Finley, Nolan McGuire, Armon Sawyer, Garrett Heckle and Kyle Kirchmeyer don't mean anything to you, but they do to Mission Viejo High quarterback Allan Bridgford.

They indicate how far one of the top quarterbacks in the recruiting class of 2009 has come.

Life couldn't get much better at this point for Allan Bridgford. As the star signal-caller for one of the best prep programs in the state of California, he holds scholarship offers from Stanford and Texas Tech, with Notre Dame, California, UCLA, Boston College and Colorado also expressing heavy interest. From an outsider's point of view, it's easy to assume everything has come easy for him.

However, that couldn't be further from the truth.

On nearly every level of his football career, the 6-foot-4, 217-pound Bridgford has started out as a back-up. So it's understandable why he kind of scoffed at a question about, does Notre Dame bringing in two five-star quarterbacks the last two recruiting classes hurt the Irish's chances with him?

"I'm not afraid to go in and compete," Bridgford stated. "That's what I've been doing forever. I have stories forever where I wasn't starting at the beginning of the year and I was starting by the end. If I went there, I would compete for the starting job, and if another player had it, I'd just try and learn as much as I could and wait my turn."

Those names listed above go back to when Bridgford was in third grade. He remembers all of them. They are all players a coach at one point thought were better than Bridgford, and started over him. All those coaches were proved wrong in the end.

Not that it was always easy for Bridgford.

"My parents helped me through that a lot," Bridgford said. His father was recruited to Stanford to play quarterback, realized he wouldn't beat out John Elway, and started playing rugby. "There were times I was down about football, when things weren't going my way, but they really helped me through that.

"In fourth grade, I remember I told my Dad I didn't want to play football anymore, and he told me to stick it out one more day, and I ended up having a real good day of practice. I never thought about quitting football ever again."

Good thing. Now the parents (Mom was a USC cheerleader) can channel those college savings into something else.

Bridgford really put himself on the map as a sophomore. He took over the starting job from Kirchmeyer halfway through the season, started the final seven contests, throwing for 1,642 yards and 15 touchdowns to just three interceptions.

This past season, Bridgford completed 62 percent of his passes for 2,500 yards and 22 touchdowns. He was intercepted 11 times, runs the 40-yard dash in 4.7 seconds, bench presses 245 pounds and squats 405 pounds. Irish head coach Charlie Weis stopped by the school last month.

"He wasn't allowed to talk to me at the school," Bridgford said. "He abided by the rules, but he told my coach nice things about me."

Bridgford, who has a 3.3 GPA, did get a chance to meet and talk with Weis when he camped in South Bend following his freshman year.

"It's just like a great football school year in and year out," Bridgford said. "Even after a down year this year, you know their going to be back this year. I visited there after my freshman year, I love the campus, it's a great place to be."

Notre Dame assistant coach Brian Polian sent Bridgford and email last week.

"He wants to keep in touch, and said that they're still really interested," Bridgford said. "He said don't get discouraged if you're not talking to me as much as other schools, recruiting at Notre Dame moves differently than at other schools."

One of Bridgford's top receiving targets this past season was Warren Reuland. Reuland's older brother Konrad transferred from Notre Dame to Stanford.

"I talked to Konrad about it," Bridgford said. "He only had nice things to say about Notre Dame, it just wasn't working out for him there and he transferred. It's not going to effect my decision on where I'm going to go."

Bridgford has seen the campuses at Notre Dame, USC and Stanford. He would like to visit Colorado and UCLA. A trip to California is scheduled for April 26th, and he is also trying to work out some time to see Texas Tech.

"Coaching staff, how good they are," Bridgford said of what he is looking for in a school. "How the football team is and if it's a nice place or not. I want to feel at home at the place and definitely how good the school is."

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