Coach's Corner: Farrier on Hermann

Mike Hermann has spent his entire life conquering long odds. The undrafted rookie aims to do it once more as he looks to stick on roster with a franchise QB (Philip Rivers), a vet backup (Charlie Whitehurst) and a draftee (Brad Sorensen). For more, we talk to RPI passing game coordinator Fred Farrier.

Mike Hermann is no stranger to adversity. He lost his mother before the age of 2 and clashed with his abusive father. But somehow he always overcame, like when he was accepted into Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI).

He won the starting QB job out of the gate, directing a 98-yard touchdown drive on the first series of his career. He kept getting better as he went along, capping things off with a stellar senior season in which he went 178-for-296 (60 percent) for 2,366 yards and 23 TDs. He also ran for more than 500 yards.

Now Hermann looks to continue his odds-defying ascension in San Diego, as the Chargers swooped in and signed him away from the equally interested Raiders. For more on Hermann and his quest, we check in with Fred Farrier, the passing game coordinator at RPI.

Nicolette Harris: Mike Hermann made a lot of big plays during his time at RPI. Which play is most memorable to you?

Fred Farrier: Very quickly, at the Division III level, it became evident that he was a special player. One play that stands out to me happened when we were playing a home game early on in the season. It's a standard play that we run, it's a quarterback-tailback option type play and there was a defensive guy that almost broke it up and could have made it a bad play for us, but Mike dodges the guy and makes him miss, and then scores on an 88-yard touchdown run.

That particular play, for me, was when I said, "This kid is really special," because he was able to improvise and kind of turn nothing into something, and he never really panicked -- he just always found ways to make plays.

NH: What will he need to work on to make the move from playing at the Division III level to playing in the NFL?

FF: It's definitely a different environment. He'll have to adjust to the speed of the game. At the NFL level he'll have to process things a lot faster than he did with us. He'll have to improve his mental understanding of the game and [work on] understanding the offense he runs and understanding the defense he's playing against and how they roll and change and where his windows will be at. I think the mental aspect will be what he has to improve the quickest. The physical part will come -- he's a big, strong young man who is physically capable of doing anything from a football standpoint.

NH: He was set to go with the Oakland Raiders before the Chargers swooped in and offered him a signing bonus. What do you think they saw in him?

FF: Mike started every game [at RPI] except his the first game of his freshman year. He continued to get better every single season. Where Mike was last year in 2012 with us, he hadn't even scratched the surface of his football potential, from a physical standpoint or from a mental standpoint. He's a young man who is 6-foot-5, 250 lbs., who can run, throw, change directions -- the type of physical specimen that he is, those guys aren't walking around everywhere.

The potential to develop him into a starting NFL QB or a backup QB, that's the whole essence of scouting, you know, finding those diamonds in the rough. I think Mike has the potential to be one of those diamonds. He hasn't been exposed to coaching at that level. The potential for him to learn and get better is just astronomical in my opinion.

Mike had four different position coaches and four different offensive coordinators and four different offensive schemes during his time in college. By the time he could learn and understand an offense, the season was over. What he was able to accomplish here was really outstanding, even though it was at the Division III level. But being able to be in a place with Coach [Mike] McCoy and Coach [Frank] Reich, to have a chance to spend a year or two years learning in the offseason, it's going to really help Mike.

NH: Given his size and build, there have been some comparisons made between Hermann and Ben Roethlisberger. Is there a player you'd compare him to?

FF: I wouldn't, just because I don't think those types of comparisons are very fair [laughs]. What I will tell you is this: If a major Division I school would have taken a chance on Mike out of high school, Mike Hermann would have been a first- or second-round draft pick, and he'd be a household name.

NH: There were a few Division I schools that made offers, but none at the position of quarterback, correct?

FF: Correct. They wanted him to play tight end, defensive end or offensive tackle. But he didn't want to do that.

NH: Why do you think he was so set on playing quarterback?

FF: I think it was just something where, you know, the more people who told him "no" the more he wanted to try and prove that he could. Eventually, he ended up at RPI because a small Division III coach met him at a recruiting fair and said, "Hey, you can come to RPI, you'll open up a brand new stadium, you can play quarterback, you can drive the bus, you can do anything you want to do at our place."

And Mike said "OK, I'll come." RPI was the first school that offered him the chance to play QB and he didn't really care what the level was. He just wanted to play QB.

Can Hermann make San Diego's final roster? Sound off inside the message boards.

Nicolette Harris, a native San Diegan, is a senior at New York University as part of the school's Media, Culture and Communications program.

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