Matt Gutierrez brings winning ways to Patriots QB mix
By John Ingoldsby
FOXBORO, Mass. - He has played high school and college football at two of the most storied programs in American gridiron history, and he may have just ended up at a third.
Matt Gutierrez knows the best of the best when he sees it, and he may have just found it again in Foxboro. "I am excited to be here since this is a storied organization as well," he said when asked about his gridiron history. "The Patriots are so respected and successful, and I now have the opportunity to learn that from everybody here."
With his resume, the 6'4" undrafted free agent may pass along some pointers as well.
Such as how he never lost a game as quarterback of DeLaSalle (California) High, the legendary program that won 151 games in a row from 1992 to 2003, the best streak ever at any level of American football history.
Gutierrez was the field general for 37 of those wins in a row, but humbly took the high road when asked at Patriots mini camp Sunday afternoon how many he won in a row. "I really don't know the number, just that I never lost a game as the starting quarterback for those three years."
After his incredible career at DeLaSalle, which was just 10 minutes down the street from where he grew up, it was time for Gutierrez to find the next challenge. Not unlike a certain California golden boy quarterback who also spends his time in Foxboro these days, albeit with a little more jewelry than the rookie.
But Gutierrez, like Tom Terrific, cast his eyes east when looking at colleges and chose the maize and blue of Michigan. Must be that if you're a quarterback that conquers California, the only place to go from there is the Big House.
And like Brady, Gutierrez found frustration in Ann Arbor. But unlike Brady, who ultimately found glory for the Wolverines, Gutierrez left unfulfilled. But not before he actually won the starting quarterback job of the famous program, but suffered a shoulder injury before his first game, which opened the door for freshman quarterback Chad Henne, who never relinquished the job.
"I recognized that I needed to go play somewhere else," said the affable Gutierrez, who ended up a three-year letterman on 27 for 41 career passing, and even got his degree from Michigan. The Graduate was still in contact with one of his high school coaches, who played college football at Idaho State, and after consulting with his Michigan coaches, all agreed that transferring there "was a good opportunity."
The Concord, California native lit it up pretty good in the Gem State last year, tossing 16 touchdowns and surpassing 2,200 passing yards. His best statistical games were a four-touchdown performance and a 394-yard effort, where he threw TD passes of 80 and 76 yards. He also had a game where he ran for three touchdowns, and another where he caught a TD pass.
Not quite DeLaSalle glory and championships, but it got him back on the NFL QB radar screen. And lo and behold, here he is fighting to make the team and become a backup to Tom Brady, and perhaps to another California quarterback as well in Matt Cassel.
QB Matt Gutierrez runs a bag drill at Patriots minicamp May 12, 2007 (Photo Kevin Saleeba / PatriotsInsider.com)
"I never met Tom, although I knew of him coming out of (Juniperro) Serra High and followed him at Michigan, where there is a fraternity of quarterbacks" Gutierrez stated. "I cannot be compared to Tom, but like how he plays the game and carries himself"
But after watching him the past two days at mini camp, there are some similarities in that he is tall like Brady, and throws a tight catchable spiral with good-looking mechanics. As the only quarterback at the mini camp, he is also getting the benefit of personal tutelage from offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Josh McDaniel.
But the most important comparison with the other two California native signal-callers is that he knows what it takes to be a quarterback at an uber-winning program. If you took Gutierrez' high school record, Cassel's USC record, and Brady's Patriots slate, it might add up to the best winning percentage of any quarterback group ever.
John Ingoldsby is a free-lance sports writer based in Medfield, Massachusetts, who has written articles about the Patriots for various publications during the past five years. You can find John on the Patriots Insider boards under the handle Rudiee.
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