True freshman Austin Kafentzis believes deep in his heart that he is a quarterback. Buried on the depth chart and likely to be moved to another position, Kafentzis is calling it quits.
After a little more than five months on campus, Kafentzis is leaving Wisconsin before even playing a down.
A source close to the program confirmed the 6-1, 200-pound prospect made the decision after ending spring behind starter Joel Stave, Bart Houston, D.J. Gillins and classmate Alex Hornibrook. He rarely participated in 7-on-7 and team drills in practice and played sparingly in the annual spring game in April, finished 3-for-3 for 53 yards and a 34-yard touchdown pass.
Messages to Kafentzis were not immediately returned but he talked about his excitement for his first spring camp to BadgerNation in a previously unpublished story.
“You just have to go in there with the new coach and prove yourself, work hard and whatever happens, happens,” said Kafentzis. “That’s all based on how you perform, how well you learn the offense and how well you read the defense. I just have to go in there and compete.”
Kafentzis, rated as a three-star prospect by Scout.com, committed to the Badgers in June 2013 to former head coach Gary Andersen and reaffirmed his commitment last December after speaking with first year head coach Paul Chryst on the phone. His other finalist was Oregon State, where Andersen currently coaches.
“There were questions I wanted to know some answers to and talked to him like I knew forever,” Kafentzis said. “He’s easy to talk to. He had good comments. He’s funny. He jokes around. He’s not going to say anything he doesn’t believe in. He’s really down to the earth, gets to the point and I felt like it was a good decision for me.”
Kafentzis graduated from Jordan High School in Sandy, Utah, and enrolled early to participate in spring practices. He arrived on campus on Jan. 12 but never could break into the rotation after being outplayed by fellow true freshman Alex Hornibrook, a three-star quarterback from Malvern (PA) Prep who at one point committed to Chryst at Pittsburgh.
By the end of spring, Kafentzis – who rarely participated in 7-on-7 or team drills during practice - was the fifth quarterback on the depth chart and a source said Chryst was likely planning on moving him to a different position.
The label on Kafentzis is that he’s a system guy, having put up all those gaudy numbers in a high school offense that required him to be a dual threat. There’s no question his numbers are massive, but they become even more impressive when they’re broken down even further.
Of his 6,942 career rushing yards, only 212 came from scrambling to avoid pressure. Of his 1,453 passing attempts, fewer than 50 were from outside the pocket, and fewer than 20 of those accounted for his scrambling yards.
It’s part of the reason why Kafentzis, according to another source, was unwilling to compromise.
“I feel like I can do any kind of offense, whether it’s pro-style, spread, anything,” said Kafentzis. “It doesn’t really matter what offense (it) is. I feel like I can fit in, learn the playbook and system and just work hard and listen to the coaches. The offense wasn’t a big deciding factor of where I wanted to go and why, because I feel like I can go into any offense competing to be the top guy.”
Kafentzis, who set the Utah state record in the javelin, competed in the event this spring for the UW men’s track and field team. He took 11th at the Big Ten Conference meet.
Stave is the only UW quarterback set to graduate after the 2015 season. UW has a commitment from Scottsdale (AZ) Saguaro quarterback Kare Lyles in the '16 class.