Nike Camp Quarterback Shootout

Among the 307 kids attending the Nike Football Camp held June 8 at the University of Oregon 37 were listed as quarterbacks. These high school quarterbacks came from five states including California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington. One player came from Canada. The states of Oregon and Washington fielded the most quarterbacks with 16 and nine respectively.

What was the mission for these kids at the camp? Perhaps Central Catholic High School quarterback Ryan Gunderson from Portland, Oregon said it best, "gauge yourself, have fun and meet people." The kids received ample instruction to improve their speed, quickness and agility. They were able to benchmark their personal scores in terms of height, weight, 40-yard dash time, shuttle time, vertical jump, and bench press. And, there was also the potential added benefit of receiving possible college recruiting notoriety supplied by the media on hand and camp sponsor Student Sports.

There were quarterbacks with a variety of stories to tell. There was Gunderson, the Oregon media darling whose chiseled good looks call to mind one of those teen singing group members rather than a gridiron star. There was the small town hero Brian Nooy who has made quite a name for himself slinging the ball in Pendleton, Oregon. There was Brady Leaf from Great Falls, Montana who can trace his quarterback bloodlines back to brother, Ryan. And, don't forget the California flair and flash of T.C. Ostrander from Menlo High in Atherton and Kevin O'Connell from La Costa Canyon High in Carlsbad. But, for Oregon Duck fans, the yellow highlighter pen prominently circled the name of Johnny DuRocher from Bethel High in Spanaway, Washington. After receiving a scholarship offer to play football for the University of Oregon, DuRocher gave his verbal commitment to the Oregon coaches last April to become a Duck. DuRocher was the only quarterback to attend the camp who had verbally committed to a Division 1 school scholarship offer.

"They (the Ducks) have always been at the top of my list," said DuRocher as he was shopping for an Oregon hat in the Moshofsky Center Duck Shop. "I attended their football camp as a sophomore and have been to a lot of their games. I'm really excited to be going here. I'm firm in my commitment to them."

DuRocher had one of the most prolific seasons in Washington prep history as a junior last year passing for 2300 yards and 24 touchdowns with only six interceptions. Recruiting gurus and scouts who have studied his film or seen him play in person count him as a prototype West Coast signal caller with a strong arm, short release and agile feet. He is also a student of the game receiving a lot of instruction from his father, John, who played quarterback for Eastern Washington State University.

So how did he do at the Nike Camp in Eugene?

"I would have liked to have thrown the ball better and improved upon my performance in California (Nike Camp held earlier in Palo Alto)," said DuRocher. Although DuRocher threw some very nice balls during the passing drills that were overseen by camp quarterback coach Bob Johnson, Oregon quarterback Kellen Clemens and Arizona quarterback Nic Costa, occasionally his timing appeared off and he'd miss his target.

"He's a great kid with good fundamentals and lots of potential," said Johnson speaking of DuRocher. "He has some work yet to do. He may not be as developed as Kellen Clemens when he was here (2000 Nike Camp)."

DuRocher not only exemplifies a competitive spirit but also a team-centered attitude. When asked if he would be concerned if Oregon recruited a second quarterback he said he wouldn't be. "They've got to get the best athletes they can," said DuRocher. "So, if they can get one they should take (another) one."

According to Greg Biggins of Student Sports, the quarterback who showed the most promise at the camp was Ostrander, who was the only quarterback in attendance at the camp in Eugene to be invited to the Elite 11 national camp strictly for quarterbacks later this summer. These are subtle differences in quarterbacks assures Biggins and do not in any way discount DuRocher's or Gunderson's or other players' viability as Division 1 recruits. I'd have to agree, given that Oregon which finished last season ranked Number 2 in the nation with a win over Colorado in the Fiesta Bowl and has placed its last four quarterbacks in the NFL, saw fit to offer a scholarship to DuRocher.

Nike Camp results from Quarterbacks of note:

Alex Brink, Sheldon, Eugene, Oregon, 6-2, 180, 4.75 second 40-yard dash, 5 bench press reps of 185 lbs., 28.7" vertical jump and 4.18 second shuttle

Johnny DuRocher, Bethel, Spanaway, Washington, 6-4, 186, 4.80 second 40-yard dash, 14 bench press reps of 185 lbs., 26.8" vertical jump and 4.23 second shuttle

Ryan Gunderson, Central Catholic, Portland, Oregon, 6-4, 212, 4.84 second 40-yard dash, 6 bench press reps of 185 lbs., 24.6" vertical jump and 4.26 second shuttle

Brian Nooy, Pendleton, Oregon, 6-2, 182, 4.97 second 40-yard dash, 7 bench press reps of 185 lbs., 25.6" vertical jump and 4.29 second shuttle

Kevin O'Connell, La Costa Canyon, Carlsbad, California, 6-4, 191, 4.78 second 40-yard dash, 26.8" vertical jump and 4.30 second shuttle

T.C. Ostrander, Menlo, Atherton, California, 6-2.5, 186, 4.68 second 40-yard dash, 26.8" vertical jump and 4.55 second shuttle

Shane Steichen, Oakridge, El Dorado Hills, California, 6-3, 159, 4.81 second 40-yard dash, 30.6" vertical jump and 4.13 second shuttle


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