- Chantel Jennings, ESPN Staff Writer
One might expect high school quarterbacks to emulate such NFL stars as Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees.
But the quarterbacks who influenced 2014 prospect Deshone Kizer (Toledo, Ohio/Central Catholic) the most are names no one outside of Toledo has ever heard. Quarterbacks Nate Hobbs and Eric Bates played at Central Catholic High School when Kizer was in middle school. Neither was profoundly talented at the position. Neither was highly recruited. In fact, neither became a college signal-caller. But they presented the game to Kizer in a way he'd never seen.
"Growing up, the only type of quarterback I had seen was a pro-style quarterback, under center," Kizer said. "When I saw those two making plays at the high school level I knew that was the kind of quarterback I wanted to be."
And that is what he has become. Though Kizer is technically a dual-threat quarterback, he's more of pass-first, run-second type player. As a sophomore, he passed for 1,200 yards and 10 touchdowns and rushed for 540 yards and four touchdowns.
Kizer doesn't exactly fit what the Wolverines are looking for in the post Denard Robinson era. But Michigan can't pass up on a player like Kizer. At 6-foot-5, 210 pounds, he has the size the Wolverines are looking for. The coach also saw him in person at Michigan's camp, and they saw how few mistakes he makes with the football in his hands.
But, Kizer said there's one thing he has heard not only from Michigan, but nearly every school he has spoken with: Coaches like him just as much off the field as they do on.
"I try to be the positive guy who helps out the team and does anything I can to help the team be successful," Kizer said. "I'm not a selfish guy."
His attitude and play has gotten Kizer offers from schools such as Illinois, Kentucky and Nebraska. Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State and Michigan State keep in touch with the quarterback and keep reminding him that they want to see his junior game film -- which seems to be a common trend for prospects in the 2014 class.
Kizer understands why coaches want to wait on offers, and he's putting a lot of good pressure on himself to perform early in the season for Central Catholic. He knows offers might rely on whether coaches see the improvements they want to see.
"They want to see if potential will play itself out or if we'll start mellowing out and still make the same mistakes we were making our sophomore years," Kizer said.
But the corrections Kizer applied to his game this summer were fairly minor. After a few camps and combines he noticed that coaches were impressed with his form and technique and that they were more focused on the nuances of his play, perhaps even skills that his idols -- Hobbs and Bates -- never advanced to.
"A lot of stuff that I heard were small things -- balance, footwork, a little bit of quicker release with my passing motion," Kizer said. "Those were all things that I could just kind of pound into my system, making them muscle memory for this season. I really think that all the things I’ve heard from coaches have been improvable for this season. I'm hoping the things they showed me, that I've been working on, show during my junior year."
7dMitch Sherman and Dan Murphy