IN THE HUDDLE: Damon Pifer

While you have heard of many top quarterback prospects in the state of Florida, we go IN THE HUDDLE to give you an evaluation on one of the emerging stars in the state of Florida. Tim Tebow isn't the only star signal caller in Northeast Florida. There is another on the rise!

During the spring and into the summer, www.floridakids.us will bring you our IN THE HUDDLE segments with football players throughout the state of Florida.

These are similar to the evaluations we pass on to the hundreds of colleges who visit our website, call us on the phone and correspond via e-mail.

Here is another top football player to keep an eye on this season – and beyond.

PLAYER: Damon Pifer.
POSITION: QB.
SCHOOL: Green Cove Springs Clay.
HEIGHT: 6-foot-and 7/8.
WEIGHT: 200.
SPEED: 4.67
HEAD COACH: Jim Reape.
www.floridakids.us Pre-Spring Rating: 81.


Damon Pifer
In this business, I try and tell people who are starting to evaluate young athletes for the first time to stick with their initial instincts.

People have a habit of thinking too much. Unfortunately, doing this for 30 plus years often comes with NO guarantees. While some are impressed how I can evaluate a young athlete at the age of 14, and be pretty close to the potential when he reaches 17 or 18, I am often critical of not going with my first impression. With Damon Pifer, I kick myself for not listening to what I felt during his sophomore year after watching him play.

Right now, Pifer is the second best quarterback prospect in the state of Florida, and while I first rated him that way when I came out with the first Class of 2006 some nine months ago, I changed my mind in February of this year, and dropped him. That was a mistake.

While Tim Tebow remains Florida's best all-around quarterback prospect, Pifer gave some people, including myself, something to think about recently during the MSL Combine in Gainesville.

"This young man has all the tools to be a great one at the next level," said one of the instructors of the camp. "He has great feet, throws the ball well, and listens to what is told of him."

Many on hand for the camp said that he looks like University of Florida standout Chris Leak, who happened to be on hand for the event, and even posed for a photo with Pifer, who could one day be standing on that very field in an orange, blue and white Gator uniform.

STRENGTHS: After throwing for 965 yards and running for an additional 600 as a junior, there is a reason why many believe that this is Florida‘s emerging star at the position. He makes the tough throws look easy, loves to play the game and has a head (3.2 grade point average) to learn as much as anyone wants to teach him.

Watching him play live, Damon makes the short throws extremely well. His quickness and ability to read defenses gives him a huge advantage as a double threat quarterback.

He throws across his body, moving to his left as well as anyone I have watched play this position in this state. His arm strength is superior, and perhaps his athletic prowess (he is a standout baseball pitcher/first baseman) gives him a huge advantage when it comes to throwing speed and accuracy.

Being comfortable being on the run comes from last season when he lost both of his top receivers, which forced him to become a more versatile player. He responded by learning how to buy time for his receivers and backs to get open. Those are qualities that you can only pick up if put in that position.

Watching Damon throw the long ball is something else you have to watch to truly appreciate. He has a great touch on the ball - back in the pocket or on the run, throwing toward the right or left side of the defense.

WHAT HE NEEDS TO WORK ON: Because he is just a bit over 6-feet, it will be essential, especially at the next level, to learn how to create with his feet. Looking like Leak is great, but patterning his game after one of the nation‘s star quarterbacks is something that may be vital over the next year for Damon.

OVERALL: Here is an athlete who throws the baseball in the upper 80s, has great control and has tremendous power and bat-speed as a hitter.

On the football field, he has all the tools to be an elite all-around quarterback at this level and beyond. While he is not 6-4 or 6-5, his dimension as run/pass prospect opens to doors, especially in Gainesville, where Urban Meyer loves that type of prospect!

COLLEGES ON THE HORIZON: Living an hour from Gainesville, the dream of one day playing baseball and football is something that has weighed on his mind for a long time. His family is tremendously supportive and would relish the opportunity to travel to Florida Field.

On the other hand, Damon's grandfather has always envisioned his grandson, playing for the Florida State Seminoles. Stay tuned and see what happens there!

Get IN THE HUDDLE with some more of Florida's emerging stars:
IN THE HUDDLE - CHRIS SORCE
IN THE HUDDLE - SHOMARI GRANT
IN THE HUDDLE - DARRELL ROSEMAN
IN THE HUDDLE - JAMES POE
IN THE HUDDLE - RYAN ELLIS
IN THE HUDDLE - COURTNEY JONES
IN THE HUDDLE - BRYAN THOMAS
IN THE HUDDLE - JORDAN DALRYMPLE
IN THE HUDDLE - PRESTON PARKER
IN THE HUDDLE - SABBATH JOSEPH
IN THE HUDDLE - PRESTON PARKER
IN THE HUDDLE - RYAN KHAWLY
IN THE HUDDLE - REGGIE ODOM

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