Dan Hawkins and the CU football program have had a pretty good run the last eight days. In somewhat of a rarity for the Hawkins era during the dog days of summer, he has received verbal commitments from three players (Kyle Slavin, Mister Jones and Nick Hirschman) bringing the total to four this cycle, five if you include Michigan Wolverines transfer, Toney Clemons.
For a week, we now had a taste of what some other fan bases experience during the summer. Combine the fact that all of the newcomers are offensive players, with two being potential quarterbacks and a big time transfer in Toney Clemons, this class has been fun to analyze so far.
The most recent and second quarterback in the 2010 class is Nick Hirschman, who verbally commited to coach Eric Kiesau yesterday after receiving his first division one scholarship (also granted acceptance to Harvard to play football). Most Buff fans might read that and be skeptical of the offer considering national names like Austin Hinder and Brett Nottingham were being thrown around the internet as potential quarterbacks for Colorado. Fear not, I think the Buffs got a good player with strong upside.
Why do I say that? A couple reasons, all which lead me to believe that Hirschman is serious about playing at the next level and doing whatever it takes to be successful.
1) The kid is smart. He had the opportunity to play/go to school at Harvard and his sister attends Yale. At the most cerebral position on the football field, anyone who can attend Harvard gets an A+ in this category.
2) Hirschman is 6'3" 220 pounds similar in size to Clark Evans, a 2009 Buffs commit and Danny Spond, another 2010 quarterback commit. Yes, you can be a successful quarterback at 6'0" or 5'10" but size doesn't hurt. No one will mistake Hirschman for a running quarterback but he has games with success running the ball. He also plays in a pro-style offense, not a shotgun spread-based offense, which is the new fad across high school sports. He is used to taking normal 3 - 5 step drops, reading defenses in a progression and playing in a timing-based offense. That is a big plus right away as the Buffs are transitioning back to that style of offense in 2009:
The new pro-style offense that Kiesau has announced he will implement this year also made Hirschman's decision easier.
"I do like how I fit in their offense. They run my style, and I enjoy that," Hirschman said. "I'm just ready to get a playbook and go down there and compete for a spot. Their offense seems very similar to what we do in high school, we run a very sophisticated offense and it will prepare me for the next level."
ESPN.com also had a nice recap that should be music to our ears in CU's offensive transformation:
Hirschman is a pocket passer with prototypical size, bulk and arm strength. In an era of the spread offense and very quarterbacks having to work from under center, it is refreshing to see a guy work entirely from under center and possess sound footwork and excellent ball handling skills. He has a thick, sturdy build and is capable of standing in the face of the rush and delivering strikes.
More on why I am impressed with Hirschman after the jump...
3) He has made the commitment to work with a very successful quarterback's coach in Bob Johnson and former NFL quarterback Trent Dilfer, modifying his throwing motion which, if you watch his junior tape, needed some work on becoming more fluid, getting the ball on a higher release plane and overall, shortening the motion to eliminate inconsistencies in his passing. Here is more information on Bob Johnson's "camp quarterback" located in Irvine, California about six hours from Los Gatos, California making Hirschman's desire to improve that much more impressive due to the distance he had to travel. Last year, Nick had a 59% completion percentage throwing for 2,191 yards. With his new throwing motion, many evaluators feel Hirschman is light years better and should expect the completion percentage to rise dramatically. Max Olson of Yahoo!Sports documenting Hirschman's development:
Nick Hirschman knows the junior year highlight tape he sent out to schools doesn’t do himself justice. This month, he’s setting out to prove it. The 6-foot-2, 212-pound pocket passer has improved dramatically under the tutelage of respected quarterbacks coach Bob Johnson.
"I’ve worked to change all my bad habits," he said. "Now that I have, I’m excited to show my skills off and show schools that what I am now is a whole lot better."
4) Because of this work ethic to not only become more mechanically sound but prepare himself physically for the next level, Hirschman has recently gained more notoriety along the recruiting trail at Elite 11 and Nike camps. UCLA, Tennessee, Oregon State, USC, Stanford, Oregon, Cal, Arizona State and Nebraska have all inquired about his services especially since he re-evaluated his throwing motion.
Even more impressive, when asked about the verbal of Colorado prep QB Danny Spond prior to his commitment, Hirschman, in a refreshing response, said:
"I don’t know what’s going on with that but I have no issue with it," he said. "I have no probably with going out and competing for a position. I’m really excited about going to Colorado and excited that they want me to go there."
Colorado may have gotten one of the bigger steals in this class as Hirschman has terrific upside for the multiple set scheme Dan Hawkins employs. He has size, arm strength, accuracy and with further development could become a powerful passer from within the pocket. This is a kid that we were a bit surprised did not get more attention than he's gotten to this point, but that is Colorado's gain now.
Tell me you don't want this kid even more now.
Again, the work that Nick has put in to become a more successful quarterback shows his competitiveness and desire to be great. We hope to talk to Nick in the next couple of days but if I am a college coach and I see the changes he has made for the better and the time he has put in to better himself, you immediately make the connection that this kid will practice hard, study film with the best of them and live in the gym. Hirschman has definitely set the foundation for future development and getting better. The more and more I read and watch highlight videos, the more and more I like this pick up.
Here are a few more links on the newest Buff:
Section Sports - A New Brand of Los Gatos Football in 2008
Previewing the Los Gatos football team before the 2008 season, many had questions about how Hirschman would replace the graduating quarterback but current Buffalo Bills' quarterback and former Los Gatos star, Trent Edwards, validated Nick's ability:
6-foot-2, 210-pound junior Nick Hirschman will take the snaps this season and from his time under center in '07 and his performance this summer, he is already getting the same kind of attention that former Wildcat and current QB for the Buffalo Bills, Trent Edwards had received at Hirschman's age. In fact, Edwards himself told Coach Cattolico after watching Hirschman perform this summer, "This kid's really got it, coach." "That's a pretty big thing to hear," Cattolico said. "That's coming from an NFL guy." "He can drop back and throw the ball, but he can also run you over," Cattolico said of his junior QB.
Hirschman is one of 21 players at his position on the ESPNU 150 Watch List. Scout.com has him rated as the No. 60 quarterback (3 star), standing at 6-foot-4 and weighs 215 pounds. He threw for 2,119 yards and 15 touchdowns, while completing 114 of 192 passes as a junior.
MaxPreps Stats - Nick Hirschman Los Gatos High School Stats for Football 08-09.
Passing: 114 - 192 / 2,191 yards / 168.5/game / 59.4% / 15 TDs / 5 INT / QB rating 114 / 10 - 3 record.
Rushing: 27 attempts, 136 yards and 4 touchdowns.
Punting: 45 punts for a 36 yard average.
Scout.com: Nick Hirschman Profile
Helped lead Los Gatos to the CIF-CCS Medium School Championship and was named Game MVP. All-DeAnza Division First Team.
For more on Nick's current high school team, check out this site dedicated to their football team.