Why Drew Bledsoe loves new Wazzu QB: a breakdown of invited Cougar walk on John Bledsoe by his coach (and dad)

COUGFAN.COM ASKED the offensive coordinator at Summit High in Bend, Oregon, to break down future Washington State walk-on quarterback John Bledsoe’s game for us. Fortunately for us, Summit’s offensive coordinator is Cougar legend Drew Bledsoe, and he was happy to share his insights.

“In terms of what he does on the field, John is an extremely intelligent player. We asked him to do some fairly complex things in terms of reads and checks at the line and he got us in the right play, and threw the ball in the right place, almost all the time," Drew tells CF.C.

Mike Leach puts a premium on accuracy and decision making when it comes to quarterbacking the Air Raid. And one thing the younger Bledsoe does extremely well, says Drew, is hit his receiving targets on the play side.

“He’s extremely accurate,” said Drew. “When I’m analyzing quarterbacks … I’m always looking at where the ball hits the receiver -- does it hit him in the place where he can continue to run or does the guy have to reach back and make a hard catch?  With John, he almost always hit our guys in a spot they could continue to run after the catch.

“He’s actually got some speed, he ran the ball really well for us a number of times this year. He’s a strong kid and hard to tackle and when he gets into the open field, he’s got the speed to make some big plays. That’s obviously foreign to me, that was never a part of my game (laugh).”

At Summit this season, the 6-3, 210-pounder younger Bledsoe completed 193 of 298 passes (65 percent) for 2,667 yards with 26 TDs and 8 INTs.   He rushed 92 times for 113 yards and seven scores.  He operated mostly out of the shotgun.

“We’ve worked with him all year just making sure he maintains good balance and a nice wide base as he’s getting ready to throw,” said Drew. “I think he’s in pretty good shape with his footwork but obviously as a quarterback, it’s also something you can always work to improve.

“We were pretty multiple, we did a lot of spread stuff. We were primarily one tight end, three wide receivers and a running back (but) John was pretty good with what we were trying to do out of each package … But yes, it was full-field reads. Without intimately knowing, other than just being a fan in watching what the Cougs do on offense, I think it will be an easy transition for John (to the Air Raid).”

FOR ANY WALK ON, if a scholie offer should come down the road from a different school, that could change things. But Drew said there were two key reasons why John decided to decline an offer from Northern Arizona and announce last week he was accepting the preferred walk on invitation from Washington State:

  1. a desire to compete at college football’s top level and
  2. growing up, John always saw himself going off to college at WSU.

“I would imagine he will still take some more official trips this winter. But I think he really wants to be a Coug,” said Drew.

Bledsoe also said Mike Leach and the WSU staff watched a lot of film on the Summit quarterback.

“I know John was hoping they would extend him a scholarship offer but I know they’ve also already offered (Connor Neville, a WSU verbal commit from Wilsonville). But the good thing is we’ve talked about it and done a lot of research on it -- the invited walk on thing is a little different from what I remember. Outside of just paying for school, you’re pretty much treated like everybody else. So we’ll see, he’ll get the chance to go up there and compete and if he plays well, hopefully they can do the scholarship thing after the fact and he earned it,” said Drew.

For those not paying attention over recent years, Luke Falk arrived at WSU as an invited walk on in 2013.

JOHN BLEDSOE HAS BEEN to Pullman many times over the years, Drew said. And for his part, Drew said he’s been to at least one WSU game every year since Leach became the head coach. Those trips to Pullman figure to increase with John on campus next year and following in the footsteps of both parents – mom Maura is also a proud Coug.

“That could be fun -- I love Pullman and obviously I love the Cougs – to have an excuse to get up there and see more games to cheer for them on a pretty personal level,” said Drew.

“There is one pretty big deal he’s going to have to face, and that’s going to my alma mater and having the name.  I think he realizes the comparisons are going to exist wherever he goes to school, those pressures whether they’re fair or unfair are always going to exist. But the other part to that is he’s always embraced that challenge. When he first got to choose a number when he started playing football he always wanted to be No. 11, my number … No pressure, right? It’s something he’s already dealt with just being a high school player … and it’s something he’ll just have to continue to handle as well as he has.”

It sounds like the future Cougar walk on QB also has a trait Leach cherishes in all Cougar players: a fierce desire to compete.

“I think he’s set up to be a very successful college quarterback,” said Drew. “I know at WSU he’s going into a fairly full QB stable and he has another kid in his class he’s going to be competing with (Connor Neville). And John knows he’s going to have to go in and compete his butt off. He’s ready for that challenge.

“John is a special player and he’s been a lot of fun to coach. He brings everything to the table that you’d want from a quarterback. He’s a great leader first and foremost – in the weight room, on the field, in everything that we do. John was the guy this year that everybody looked to.”

• Another Oregon product has also decided to accept a preferred invitation to walk on WSU. Redmond long snapper Matt Allen tweeted this week he was Wazzu-bound. He caught Drew's eye earlier this year. "I know what an NFL long-snapper looks like," Bledsoe told the Oregonian this month. "I've never seen one that looks like that in high school before watching that kid."

• Oregon has become QB Central for the Cougs this recruiting class. Neville is from Wilsonville and led his team to the 5A title game this season.

• Bledsoe has been the offensive coordinator at Summit for four seasons.  In 2015, Bledsoe and his three sons on the team (John, Stu and Henry) took home the 5A title.  This season, No. 1-ranked Summit was favored to repeat as 5A champ but fell to No. 8-seed Dallas 29-28 in the state tournament quarterfinals.

• Drew Bledsoe passed for 7,373 yards and 46 touchdowns at Washington State before leaving a year early to become the first overall pick in the 1993 NFL Draft. In his 14 years in the NFL, he became one of the most prolific passers in NFL history completing 57.1 percent of his passes for 44,611 yards and 251 touchdowns in 194 NFL games. He was a four-time Pro Bowl selection and guided the Patriots to two AFC championships in his nine years in New England. He later started for Buffalo and Dallas.

• In 2012, named Bledsoe as the QB on our All-Time All-NFL-Cougars team, beating out Super Bowl MVP and two-time Pro Bowler Mark Rypien.

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