Change of heart?
Gonzaga hoops recruit (6-9) may consider football
Posted: Monday March 10, 2008 3:31PM; Updated: Monday March 10, 2008 3:53PM
The message boards buzzed when Kalispell, Mont., forward Brock Osweiler committed to Gonzaga two years ago. Would Osweiler, then a high school freshman, make it to Spokane, Wash., before changing his mind or doing something to make Gonzaga coaches change their minds? Now, as Osweiler nears the end of his junior year, he may indeed choose a school other than Gonzaga.
But if Osweiler changes his mind, his decision will have nothing to do with basketball.
In recent months, the 6-foot-8, 230-pound Osweiler has drawn interest from schools throughout the country as a quarterback. Osweiler said Arizona State and Stanford already have offered scholarships, Florida State and UCLA coaches have spoken with him and several other schools (Clemson, LSU, Michigan, Michigan State) have stuffed his mailbox.
With more football interest coming every day, Osweiler knows he faces a critical decision. He can stick to his commitment to Gonzaga -- which doesn't have a football team -- or he can hit the football camp circuit this spring and summer and collect gridiron offers. To give himself the best chance and to be fair to the Gonzaga staff, Osweiler believes he'll have to choose a sport in the next few months. And despite the fact that some schools have suggested he could play both sports in college, Osweiler plans to stick to one.
"Some have tried to work that into it. But what I've told people is that if I want to play basketball, I'm going to go to Gonzaga," Osweiler said. "But if I don't do that, I know I'm going to play football, and that's the only sport I'm going to do in college."
So how did Osweiler turn into a big-time football recruit? He threw for 2,935 yards and 27 touchdowns as a junior, and college coaches have noticed that Osweiler is as agile as a shorter player. In Montana, Osweiler is no secret. "He might be the best football recruit our state has ever produced," an opposing high school coach told the Great Falls Tribune. "He could be playing on Sundays in the future." Osweiler believes the notoriety he received from basketball and from his early commitment helped college football coaches find him.
"Football in the state of Montana is probably just as big or bigger than in most states. ... People just aren't able to get their name out there," he said. "I've been kind of lucky with the opportunities I've had with basketball. I think that's transitioned to me getting my name out there for football."
But can a 6-8 quarterback succeed at the college level? Dan McGwire -- Mark McGwire's younger brother -- was 6-8, and starred at San Diego State before being selected No. 16 overall by the Seattle Seahawks in the 1991 draft. McGwire, the tallest quarterback in NFL history, only started five games in four years in Seattle, but he did throw for 3,833 yards and 27 touchdowns as a San Diego State senior.
Other tall quarterbacks have had more recent success. Osweiler said conversations with FSU offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher have intrigued him, because Fisher coached 6-6, 260-pound JaMarcus Russell -- the top pick in the 2007 NFL draft -- at LSU. Osweiler said Fisher has explained that Russell had a psychological advantage over some defenders because of his size. Osweiler also noted another factor that has college coaches interested: He rarely has a pass batted down by a defender.
"Not too many," Osweiler said, laughing. "No. ... I can see over everybody. I've always had 6-5, 6-6 offensive linemen up here, but it's never been a problem."
Osweiler's only problem now is choosing a sport. He fell in love with the basketball program at Gonzaga, and he would enjoy helping the Zags to the NCAA tournament every year. But football has piqued Osweiler's interest, and he could wind up being the most unique player in the Class of 2009.
Pryor watch continues
On Saturday, Jeannette (Pa.) super recruit Terrelle Pryor ran into some trouble when members of Jeannette's basketball team brawled with members of the North Catholic team following a Pennsylvania Class 2A state quarterfinal. After Jeannette's 86-60 win, the teams exchanged harsh words in the postgame handshake line. Later, a fight erupted outside North Catholic's locker room.
"There were things that were said upstairs, and we came down and tried to get into the men's (locker) room," North Catholic coach Dave Long told the Tribune-Review. "Obviously, when you're dealing with 18-year-olds and highly emotional at that point, it wasn't a pretty scene."