QB Recruit Hale Hopes To Compete For Starting Spot

How strong is too strong?

Bench pressing 300 pounds? Squatting 500 pounds? How about throwing a football through a wall?

Theoretically, that's how strong Matt Hale's arm is, said Harry Lumley, his high school coach.

"He has an absolute cannon for an arm," Lumley said of Hale, who signed on February 5 to play at Syracuse. "People are going to be surprised out there when he comes out in August. They just have to play catch with him, and they'll see. Along with his arm, he can make things happen."

"That's something I like to bring to my game," Hale said.

Last season, Hale threw for 14 touchdowns and ran for five, despite not starting a game. He transferred for his senior year from Riverside High School to W.F. Herman, where two quarterbacks were already on the team. Lumley decided it would be unfair to start Hale ahead of the other two players.

Hale accepted the situation. After all, he transferred to Herman to increase his chances of playing Division I football.

"My goal has always been to play Division I college football in the states," Hale said.

For Lumley, preparing players for Division I football is nothing new. In 2001, Stanford signed Herman cornerback O.J. Atogwe. Also that year, Division I-AA Lafayette took linebacker Andrew Brown.

On the downside, Hale has to adapt to American football. He's played what he calls "four-down football" before, but he's yet to play it at Division I speed. In Canadian high school football, teams play three downs.

Hale's strong arm might be a little too strong on the narrower American fields, which are 50 yards wide, 15 yards shorter than Canadian fields.

"On the shorter passes, I might at first be throwing them a little too hard," Hale said. "I'm going to have to put a little more touch on them."

Lumley recently called Hale "a project."

"The only reason why I said he was a project was because of the different caliber of ball he will be playing," Lumley said. "Once he learns, and he will because he's a smart kid, people will see this kid is a real good talent. He's got so many plusses."

Playing Canadian high school football enabled Hale to read defenses better. For instance, more motion on the offensive side (receivers can move forward while the ball is being snapped) leads to the defense constantly adapting.

Hale will also have to watch for hits from his blindside. He will no longer have the two tight-end set played in Canada, which provides Hale with some extra pocket protection. With less time than Hale is accustomed, it might be expected that he makes some mistakes under pressure at first.

Still, Hale and his father, Philip, worry about Hale being too hyped up before games. Philip admits Hale can "out-psyche" himself before a game.

"(But) when he's coached, he really listens," Philip said.

Hale is hoping to make an impact after Jersey City quarterback, Joe Dailey, ranked as the 13th best dual-threat quarterback in this year's recruiting class, defected to the Nebraska Cornhuskers after verbally committing to Syracuse.

"As I look down the line," Hale said, "I want to play at a high level of intensity in Division I football and gain year after year."

Hale will compete with senior R.J. Anderson, sophomore Xzaiver Gaines, and redshirt freshman Perry Patterson in practice in August

Since SU linebackers coach Steve Dunlap recruited him, Hale has met three times at Syracuse with head coach Paul Pasqualoni.

"I feel comfortable at Syracuse," Hale said. "You can tell Coach Pasqualoni is really into football and cares for his athletes. Both Coach (Pasqualoni) and Coach Dunlap are preparing me for the time that needs to be put in."

Said Lumley: "This is a great pick for Syracuse, because hardly anybody knew about (Hale). He's coming out of the best high school league in Canada, and if he grasps what's going on, he can be unbelievable."

The Hale File

Ht: 6-4
Wt: 220
Hometown/ High School: Windsor, Ontario/Herman Secondary
Noteable: High School: Four-year letterwinner ... Two-time team captain ... Threw for 14 TDs and ran for four more in his senior season ... Captained team to an undefeated record and the Wilson Conference championship in his junior year ... Earned all-city honors and was team MVP as a junior ... Won team's offensive player of the year award as a freshman ... Also played basketball for three years
Recruited By: Assistant head coach Steve Dunlap
Personal: Born April 28, 1984; Son of Phil and Elly Hale; Two sisters and one brother
Academic Interest: Arts & Sciences.

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