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Wednesday, October 23, 2013
In their own words: Big Ten QB commits

By Tom VanHaaren

With so many different styles of offense within the Big Ten, each school has needed to find the right fit at quarterback. Here is a look at the Big Ten quarterback commits for the 2014 class and how they fit in with their future offense -- in their own words.

Illinois:
Chayce Crouch (Newark, Ohio/Newark Catholic)
Vitals: 6-3, 207
Ranking: No. 37 pocket passer, three-star
Quarterbacks on the 2014 roster: Reilly O'Toole (Sr.), Wes Lunt (Jr.), Aaron Bailey (Fr.)

In his words: “I think I’m a very good fit for the offense. Their whole offense relies on timing and I’ve been running an offense that relies on timing and has a lot of similarities they have. I have the ability to make all the throws in their offense that involves the quarterback making reads, adjustments and being in complete control. I have a private quarterback coach I’ve been working with for the past two years and I’m a work addict, so I’m prepared for that offense.”

Indiana:
Alexander Diamont (Los Angeles/Venice)
Vitals: 6-2, 175
Ranking: No. 82 pocket passer, three-star
Quarterbacks on the 2014 roster: Cameron Coffman (Sr.), Nate Sudfeld (Jr.), Tre Roberson (Jr.)

In his words: “(Indiana) spreads out the field and gets the ball out fast, which is exactly what my high school offense is built around. Their offense is a more advanced and matured version of that, obviously. They’re looking for a quarterback that can deliver the ball, but move in the pocket and I think I’ve shown that I can do that. I work with Angelo Gaska and also train with Joe Dickinson, who used to coach at Oklahoma. I have trained with Coach Gaska since ninth grade, so that will all help me prepare for college.”

Michigan:
Wilton Speight (Richmond, Va./Collegiate School)
Vitals: 6-6, 230
Ranking: No. 5 pocket passer, No. 128 overall, four-star
Quarterbacks on the 2014 roster: Devin Gardner (Sr.), Shane Morris (Soph.)

In his words: “Since they’re transitioning more to a pro-style, pocket-passing offense, that really fits the way I play. I can make plays on my feet if I need to, but with the big boys up front they have, and that they’re recruiting I can sit in and perform well. There’s something called the tornado drill, it’s a drill that Steve Clarkson made up that makes you move your feet in a certain pattern or way that is in a three feet by three feet box, kind of like the pocket. That’s a drill that will really pay off in college for my footwork in the pocket and making plays.”

Michigan State:
Chris Durkin (Youngstown, Ohio/Ursuline)
Vitals: 6-4, 230
Ranking: No. 35 pocket passer, three-star
Quarterbacks on the 2014 roster: Connor Cook (Jr.), Tyler O'Connor (Soph.), Damion Terry (Fr.)

In his words: “They’re talking about changing the offense up, doing a lot more zone reads and quarterback run stuff. That’s my game, so I fit in to the new offense. I’m a very mobile quarterback, and I love running the football. A lot of the passing stuff is a lot of play action and rolling out and that’s my game. In the off-season I’ll be with my quarterback coach working on my drops and timing on routes. Just working and fixing a few things.”

Nebraska:
Zack Darlington (Apopka, Fla./Apopka)
Vitals: 6-1, 201
Ranking: No. 11 dual-threat quarterback, four-star
Quarterbacks on the 2014 roster: Tommy Armstrong Jr. (Soph.), Johnny Stanton (Fr.)

In his words: “I think I bring the same dual threat aspect that Nebraska looks for in a quarterback. I believe my strengths are toughness and leadership, and I hope I can help them wherever I’m needed.”

Northwestern:
Clayton Thorson (Wheaton, Ill./Wheaton North)
Vitals: 6-4, 200
Ranking: No. 8 pocket passer, No. 169 overall, four-star
Quarterbacks on the 2014 roster: Trevor Siemian (Sr.), Zack Oliver (Jr.), Matt Alviti (Fr.)

In his words: “My high school team runs a very similar offense to Northwestern’s, so I feel like that will help me in the future. In their offense the quarterback is supposed to be able to throw the ball accurately as well as run the ball effectively and I feel I can do both. I have worked with my personal quarterback coach, former NFL quarterback Kent Graham, since the seventh grade. He has been a big help in my learning process.”

Ohio State:
Stephen Collier (Leesburg, Ga./Lee County)
Vitals: 6-3, 205
Ranking: No. 42 pocket passer, three-star
Quarterbacks on the 2014 roster: Braxton Miller (Sr.), Cardale Jones (Soph.), J.T. Barrett (Fr.)

In his words: “I think you have to be a cerebral guy running a spread, that’s what I think I am. Watching Braxton and Kenny [Guiton] play this year, you can tell that Coach Meyer and Herman like athletic guys and athletic guys that can keep drives going, that;s something I do well. Make plays happen and that’s something I can do. I’m going to get with Coach Whitfield [and] John Charles and those are the two guys I bonded with at The Opening the most so I’m going to work with them.”

Penn State:
Michael O’Connor (Bradenton, Fla./IMG Academy)
Vitals: 6-5, 223
Ranking: No. 4 pocket passer, No. 126 overall, four-star
Quarterbacks on the 2014 roster: Christian Hackenberg (Soph.), Tyler Ferguson (Jr.)

In his words: “Coach O’Brien runs a pro-style offense and that’s where I fit. I’m already running that here at IMG Academy and I’m enjoying that. We have hot routes and similar stuff to Penn State. Some of our route combinations have similar names, some of the formations and motions, we do a lot of the same things that they do, so that will help with the transition.”

Purdue:
David Blough (Carrolton, Texas/Creekview)
Vitals: 6-1, 187
Ranking: No. 33 pocket passer, three-star
Quarterbacks on the 2014 roster: Danny Etling (Soph.), Austin Appleby (Soph.)

In his words: “I feel like the system they have at Purdue will fit me well. It’s similar to the one I play in now at my high school and I think that competing with the other quarterbacks on the roster will help push the team forward as well. I have intangibles, competitiveness, work ethic and just knowledge of the game. I train with Kevin Murray (former Texas A&M quarterback) on my mechanics, footwork and throwing. I also work out with Andre Ruiz for some strength and conditioning type workouts.”

Wisconsin:
DJ Gillins (Jacksonville, Fla./Ribault)
Vitals: 6-3, 181
Ranking: No. 14 dual-threat, four-star
Quarterbacks on the 2014 roster: Joel Stave (Jr.), Tanner McEvoy (Jr.), Bart Houston (Fr.)

In his words: “I think I fit in great. Me having the ability to run, I can do more and spread the ball out; kind of like what Russell Wilson did when he was there. They’re going to keep the offense the same way, but they’re going to add a little more to it. The coaches came so late they couldn’t change it this year, but they’ll add some spread and read option for next year and I fit with that.”