Schaeffer Remains A Prime UT Target

If Brent Schaeffer hasn't received the level of fan attention that some other quarterback prospects on Tennessee's radar scope have, it may be because his natural stealth lends itself to low visibility.

Everything the 6-2, 200-pound senior does appears almost effortless, from his easy overhead throwing motion, to his unwavering poise in the pocket, to his implausible accuracy, to his smooth gait and deceptive speed, Schaeffer makes football's most demanding position look like child's play.

In only his second season as a starter, Schaeffer has led Deerfield Beach High School to a 10-1 record and the state playoffs. He threw for two touchdowns and ran for another in less than three quarters to lead the Bucks to a 51-0 victory in the first round of Florida's Class 6A playoffs. On the season, he has completed 67 percent of his passes for 2175 yards and 24 touchdowns. He also has 457 yards rushing with 13 touchdowns.

As a junior Schaeffer, who transferred to Deerfield Beach from Dillard High School after his sophomore season, threw for 2,574 yards and 31 touchdowns while gaining 548 yards on the ground with 15 TDs and directed the Bucks to a 9-2 record. He also completed 68 percent of his passes — not a bad season's work for a first-year starter in Florida's highest classification.

Throw those impressive stats in with the physical talent it takes to run 40 yards in 4.47 seconds, bench press 280 pounds and jump 31 inches on a vertical plane, and it's little wonder this boy wonder has been offered by the likes of Miami, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Iowa, Syracuse, Michigan, Oklahoma and Virginia Tech among others.

In less than two seasons, Schaeffer is on the verge of rewriting every Deerfield Beach passing record, following on the heels of current Miami starting QB Derrick Crudup. The Broward County high school has produced a steady stream of premium athletes in recent years, but none that head coach Joe Redmond would take over Schaeffer.

"He's the best player I've ever coached," Redmond said. "I say that quick because it's true. The others don't come close to him. You have impact players and then you have instant impact players. Brent is going to be an instant impact player in college."

Because he's left-handed, swift of foot and wears No. 7, Schaeffer draws a comparisons to Atlanta Falcon quarterback Michael Vick. Schaeffer's cousin, 2002 Heisman Trophy runner-up Brad Banks, remembers he was at Iowa's team hotel before the Orange Bowl hanging out with Schaeffer when Hawkeyes coach Kirk Ferentz called Schaeffer "The Michael Vick of South Florida," Banks said.

"Just to hear that right now — and he's in high school — is something special," Banks said. "There is some hype, but I think he'll be all right. He doesn't let it get to him."

Schaeffer doesn't appear to be affected by the sudden rush of praise that has come his way. He remembers too well when nobody knew who he was and that he is still regarded by many as the fourth best quarterback in the Sunshine State.

"I don't let all this interfere with how I play," Schaeffer said. "I feel like I'm the best player in Broward County, but I feel like people still haven't seen all of it. I still have some to show.''

Schaeffer's emergence as a topflight QB has worked well with the timing of Tennessee's search for a signal caller of the future. Had the Vols committed a blue chip prospect early they may have never considered Schaeffer. However their early failure to attract a top name caused Tennessee's staff to broaden its quest and Schaeffer became a solid candidate. Phillip Fulmer signaled that interest when he paid a personal visit to watch one of Schaeffer's games this season. He has since been courted by Vol offensive coordinator Randy Sanders and Woody McCorvey. Apparently the interest is mutual.

"Oh yeah, I'm interested in Tennessee," Schaeffer said. I'm going to visit Knoxville either the weekend of Dec. 13 or Jan. 19. Dec. 12 is the state championship date so if I can't go then I'll go on Jan. 19.

"Kansas State and Tennessee are the only two visits I know I'm going to take. There are some other schools I'm considering, but those are my top two."

Schaeffer has closely monitored Tennessee's season and the more he sees of the Vols offense the better he likes it.

"Most every weekend I watch Tennessee play," he said. "I like the offense they run. I like the way they mix the run and pass. The offense is really spread out, they've got a lot of good receivers and they're young, too.

Schaeffer, who threw for 285 yards in 18 minutes of play in one game this year and threw for 298 yards with four TD passes and two rushing in another, might prove a perfect fit for a program that needs mobility on the field and upward mobility in the polls.

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