Schmidtke's grit, smarts stand out says coach

CALVIN SCHMIDTKE attended the Eastern camp this year and, says his prep coach, what he did for about an hour off the field might have been just as impressive as what he did on it. Dave Miller, who has spent the last nine years at the helm at Lakes, also answers that question that won't go away wherever quarterbacks are concerned. What about his height?

Schmidtke spent five days at Eastern's camp this past June, all under the watchful eye of Paul Wulff and Todd Sturdy.

"I really believe coach Sturdy and coach Wulff fell in love with the guy and the way he played," said Miller. "..They offered him before he left camp."

After assuming the WSU job, Wulff did not offer Schmidtke a Cougar scholarship right away. But when he did a few weeks later, what undoubtedly went into the decision was Schmidtke's whiteboard session at Eastern.

STURDY AND WULFF at their camp will sometimes bring in a quarterback for a chalk-session, almost a mini-clinic, to get a sense of his football acumen.

The one with Schmidtke lasted for over an hour, said Miller.

"I think he impressed them with his mental capacity as a quarterback and his ability to understand our offense and their offense -- and defenses...I think he (impressed) them with his knowledge for a high school kid," said Miller.

SCHMIDTKE IS LISTED at 6-0, 186 pounds. The question naturally begs, is he tall enough to be successful in the Pac-10?

"I think in certain systems, height is a factor. I think in the spread offense, there have been many people that have proven it's not as much of a factor," said Miller. "You can look at Kansas and Missouri, and at Jason Gesser.

"I think 6-foot guys can definitely flourish in the spread (WSU's) offense, I don't think it will be a factor at all...The spread offense gives those guys better passing lanes."

MILLER RAN DOWN the list of positives on Schmidtke, who as a senior completed 76 percent of his for 2,724 yards, 37 TDs and only 5 interceptions. It's a lengthy list.

"He's extremely accurate, a great decision maker and very intelligent," said Miller. He's like a coach on the field as far as knowing what defenses teams are in and adjusting on the fly. He's extremely elusive, very quick. He probably has the greatest lateral quickness that I've ever had in a quarterback and in other athletes too...he has the ability to feel pressure in the pocket and make plays with his feet.

"And he can make all the throws. (His arm strength) is as good as anyone I've had. I think he's very capable of throwing the deep out, he throws a nice deep ball that turns over for him. He's got a great, quick release, and it's very high up on the shelf. There's no drop down wasted motion. I think his feet are probably one of the biggest keys to his accuracy."

AND THERE ARE INTANGIBLES to consider, said Miller. In the '07 season opener, Gig Harbor early on put a lot of heat, and hits, on Schmidtke and bloodied his chin. Schmidtke responded by guiding Lakes to a 28-7 win.

"To me, the mark of a quarterback is what he does after he gets popped in the mouth a bunch of times," said Miller. "That game to me was a signature of a big time player who plays his best in big-time games. A lot of high school quarterbacks, once they get hit, they kind of run and hide.

"He showed me a lot in that game..He's a very competitive and tough kid."

Miller says Schmidtke, like all incoming freshmen, will need to physically mature and benefit from a college weight program. But as far as quarterback instincts go, he says Schmidtke is ahead of the curve.

"All quarterbacks coaches talk about the "it" factor and being able to make plays when things break down...Calvin's very good at scrambling and finding people, and knowing when to run and when to throw. He's very instinctive and I don't think that's something you can coach, you either have it or you don't," said Miller.

"He has good character. Like most 18-year old kids, he likes to have fun and you have to sometimes be careful...but he's a smart kid. For me, he's been nothing but respectful, great around school, a good leader and a good locker room kid.

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