Today, we had the great fortune of speaking with Nick Hirschman, quarterback from Los Gatos, California, who committed to the University of Colorado this past week. I couldn't have been more impressed with Nick. I have done many interviews with prospective Buffs and Nick knocked it out of the park. Coach Hawkins definitely seems to have gotten a kid who is very mature and has a great outlook on football & what he hopes to accomplish at the next level.
I couldn't have been more impressed about his desire to continue to improve in all aspects of his game as well as his "team-first" attitude.
I can't say enough about Nick, see for yourself below, and you will definitely be proud that he verbaled with the team you root for:
The Ralphie Report (TRR): Thanks for taking the time with us today Nick. I understand you were at a 7 on 7 passing camp yesterday, how did it turn out?
Nick Hirschman (NH): Really well. We won the team camp again, defending our title from a year ago, something that is always nice to do.
TRR: Great. Well as Buff fans, we are pumped to have your commitment. It looks like Colorado got you just in time as it seems your recruiting has taken off over the summer.
NH: I feel like I was lucky to go to a place like Colorado.
TRR: Well, it works out well for both of parties then.
TRR: So your junior year of high school, you throw for over 2,000 yards, lead your team to a 10 - 3 record and a section title championship. Things look to be going really well and you were obviously very successful. But then we read a few articles saying that you work with Bob Johnson and the Johnson family (they run a prominent quarterback camp and Elite 11 events) on becoming a more fundamental quarterback. What prompted that decision to work with the Johnson's (colleges, etc.)? Why go through all of these changes?
NH: Basically what prompted those changes is really you can never stop improving. We had a very successful year last year but there is no reason that each time you go out on the field, you can't be better and that was my train of thought. Coach Cattolico (Los Gatos High School Coach) does a wonderful job and he really encouraged me to go down to Coach Johnson's. Coach Cattolico told me anything that I can pick up from any coach I work with will make me a better player in the long run. So when I went down their Coach Johnson gave me a base analysis and he told me where I needed to work from there. I really thought he was incredibly accurate in his assessment. There was a lot of things I needed to focus on; quicker feet, better throwing mechanics overall, quicker release; all of which is going to make me a better quarterback. I think that was a big reason I was able to improve.
see after the jump for a lot more from the Nick Hirschman interview...
TRR: Along that point, we hear we shouldn't even look at your junior tape because your throwing motion is completely revamped. What sort of things were the Johnson's doing with your fundamentals? What were some of the drills and techniques were they having you do to improve?
NH: We did a lot of footwork drills but the first thing we really did, based on what Rob Johnson (former NFL quarterback) said, was I needed to lose a little weight. I played last year at about 238ish, that was too much weight for my body to carry around. Once I lightened up and I got leaner, my feet got quicker which is going to pay off in the long run. Also in Mission Viejo, where the Johnson's workout location is, Mark Sanchez (former USC and current New York Jets quarterback) was there when he was doing all of his pro-day stuff and just being able to watch and him and see the way he moves and the way he throws the ball helped so much in my preparation. When I got home I would YouTube all of his practices and study the tapes so I could mirror how he moved and how fluid he was in his workouts.
We did all the typical drills down at Mission Viejo and at my high school in Los Gatos. Targets, drops, roll outs, but both my high school Coach and what the Johnson's stressed were "we can give people the drills but they need to go out there and work on them or nothing will happen." That was something I took to heart. When I would get back from Mission Viejo, I would get with my high school teammates and coaches to work on everything that I learned, throwing to wide receivers for an hour or two at a time. All of it proved to be a great experience.
TRR: That is great to hear you are putting in the preparation in the offseason. You can't have it any better than to be learning from the Johnson's and having wide receivers on your high school team who want to prepare and work with you.
NH: Most definitely, I have developed a great relationship with the Johnson's over our time together and all that they have taught me has definitely made me a better football player.
TRR: Well, it's a testament to your desire to get better. It is not like you are close to Mission Viejo being that Los Gatos is some six hours (one way) away from the Johnson's camp. As Buff fans, we are very excited to hear that you are putting that much work into getting better. That sort of effort translates into watching film, learning the playbook...that is something we are very excited to hear about.
NH: You know, that is the next thing I need to get better at in this process. I was able to revamp my throwing motion and work on my feet, now I want to continue to learn the game. I know the game but there are always things to learn from the Johnson's and Coach Cattolico. I just want to continue to learn so when I get to college and into Coach Kiesau's offense, I am prepared. His offense is similar to what we run in high school but it is more complicated. So the more I learn now, I have a better shot when I get to Colorado. I am excited for that.
TRR: That sounds about right. The Buffs ran the spread last year and it didn't go that well. Now they are going back to the pro-style offense and based on everything we have seen on film, your offense is under center, taking three step and five step drops, going through progression reads so we are thinking that the staff couldn't have picked a better prospect considering this high school level is littered with spread offenses.
On to the next stage, how long had Colorado been in contact with you before the NIKE camp where they offered and you committed?
NH: Right when recruiting started, Coach Cattolico, Bob (Johnson), Rob (Johnson) all said what about Colorado, Nick? Honestly, I am not going to lie, I had never been to the state of Colorado, let alone to Boulder so it was a little foreign to me. I had a few other schools looking at me with pretty big names that I was more familiar with and closer to home. But I started looking into Colorado a little more and I figured out that (the Buffs) were a pretty big name out there. It was just the fact that we are from California and live in PAC 10 country. But when I looked into Colorado, their system and everything they built down there, it was amazing. Once we went on our visit, I completely fell in love with it; the college atmosphere, the town, everything.
The coaches also really made my decision easy. In Coach Hawkins, we sat in his office for about an hour talking about how you need to be a good football player to come to Colorado but just as important is character and the type of person you are. That was great to hear because it is a big thing that has been stressed in my life and at my high school. It has always been about the whole football player. It's about the team, not about the individual.
Then when I talked to Coach Kiesau and some of the things he wants to do on offense, I was just more pumped up that I was hopefully going to get a chance to be a part of that.
I was actually at the USC camp, we were on our lunch break and I received in an email to call Coach Kiesau. He said they were really impressed with what they saw at camp, they loved my family, they loved my commitment and he said, "We would like to extend an offer to you." I thought about it for about two seconds and then I committed.
TRR: That was going to be my next question. You're competing at one of the best high school football camps in the world at USC and then you get an offer and committed to the Buffs just that quick was really awesome to hear.
So at the USC camp, there were a plethora of good quarterbacks like Jesse Scroggins. How did you feel your camp performance was going and how did you feel your ability compared to the quarterbacks in attendance?
NH: I feel very good about where I am going into my senior season. Everything can be improved; there is nobody who can be perfect. At USC, you know, it's the University of Southern California, there are going to be a lot of great quarterbacks there. I thought I stacked up well. I played to the best of my ability. The other guys performed great as well. If they are participating for the USC football team, they have to be doing something right.
It was a good experience and I learned some good things but once I was able to pick up the offer from Colorado, my family and I talked about it and decided that Colorado was the place that I wanted to be.
TRR: So how has/was the recruiting process for you? It seems like your recruiting has really taken off and that you are being very active, participating in a lot of camps and Elite 11 workouts. Are you still going to those camps or are you just getting ready for your senior year?
NH: You know, it is sort of a back and forth thing with the recruiting process. It was so much fun to go around to these campuses. I was at UCLA, and I was at Stanford, which is close to home but a beautiful place. It was great to meet all of these new people. (UCLA quarterback commit) Brett Nottingham and I, even though we were competing everywhere, became really good friends. It was cool to meet someone out there that I know works as hard as I do. You don't really get that every day at your high school when there are only a few who can sacrifice that much to compete at such a high level. To be around people like that is just awesome.
But, on the other hand, there were a lot of sleepless nights and a lot of stress. Overall, I was ready to be done. I got my offer from the school where I wanted to go and once I had that, I knew I was done.
TRR: You mentioned Stanford and UCLA as a few schools that were close to offering, what other schools were looking at you before you jumped on the Colorado offer?
NH: I had a lot of interest from a lot of schools. Stanford and UCLA. Oregon State was a school that I thought was fairly interested in me. USC was also interested. I had an offer from Harvard and Yale. My sister went to Yale so that was a hard thing to say "no" to but when we talked about it as a family, I decided that I wanted to play division one football at a great school, which is something I get to do at Colorado.
TRR: What kind of quarterback are we going to see on the practices fields in Boulder and on Saturdays for the next four or five years? What are some of your strengths?
NH: What I think Colorado will get when I go there is somebody who is going to go out and compete for them every week, every practice, every time I put on a pair of cleats. Also somebody that can help lead a team. That is something they stressed big at Boulder and I think that is a great thing; somebody that can step up and take charge of a team or an offense...it's about the team and not the player. I am just excited to get there and try to make Colorado better than it is already.
TRR: You already said that you wanted to continue to learn the game more and transition it to the field. What are a few other things that you want to work on this offseason and your senior year to get ready for the next level?
NH: Everything. Everything can always get better no matter who you are. Watching film and continuing to learn the game is huge for me. Once you know the game and are able to see things before they happen out there, everything slows down on the field and it makes it a lot easier for not only the quarterback but everyone else on the team.
TRR: So these recruiting sites and services have you listed anywhere between 6'2" to 6'5". What is your height and you said you lost some weight, what are you tipping the scales at right now?
NH: All my stuff on MaxPreps and Rivals was sent in my sophomore year right when I started playing on varsity so it is a little dated, saying I was 6'2". I am now 6'3", 6'3 ½" and I am about 215, 216 right now.
TRR: How much do you know about the current Buffs' team from a player perspective? Did you get to talk to any of them on your camp visit?
NH: I don't know a whole lot about the current team right now. When I was there I got to meet Cody Hawkins and he just seemed like the nicest guy. He seems like he loves to compete and loves just to be out there. I really respect that because that is the way I feel I am as well.
TRR: I think when you watch the Buffs this year, you are going to be happy with the size of the offensive line and I think there is a ton of talent that should make you feel good to be there.
NH: I talked with Coach Hawkins about that and he said they have some freakish athletes on the line. That was very nice to hear for both me and my mom.
TRR: Well, Nick that is all I have. Thanks for your time and we wish you the best of luck this season.