There used to be a thought that the least likely players to de-commit from a school were quarterbacks. I’m not sure if that was really the case, but it certainly wasn’t the case last year. Several of the top quarterback recruits last year flipped to other schools, including six of them who competed at the Elite 11.
The biggest quarterback de-commitment that has happened in the 2016 class thus far was when Cuthbertson (North Carolina) quarterback Austin Kendall took back his pledge to attend Tennessee. He’s back on the open market, but not for very long. He plans on deciding between schools like Oklahoma, Auburn, and Kentucky very soon.
He’s a good athlete with great mobility. He doesn’t have the classic pocket passer height, but has good enough size for the position and should be able to add good weight as he physically matures.
I was surprised to see Kendall’s mobility based on his label as a pocket passer, but one area where he really excels is escaping the rush. He does a great job of buying time and keeps his eyes down field. He will find the check down and can get the defense running out of position to find his best option. He isn’t going to be a major threat to break long runs at the next level, but he could be useful in the run game as someone who could move the chains on occasion.
He has really good touch, especially when he throws the fade. He throws a catchable ball, but doesn’t show the velocity to make all of the throws effectively right now. He lofted quite a few out routes and throws up the seam that were up for grabs to be picked if he was facing better players in the secondary. Part of that is him getting away from using his lower half with some lazy footwork at times and not getting planted into the ground.
Like just about every young quarterback, he can look really great when he has a clean pocket and stepping into his throws in rhythm. Unfortunately, he’ll let pressure get to him at times. Like I mentioned above, he can escape and create, but he will often unnecessarily fade away on some throws even when pressure is not in his face. He can step up into the pocket, but doesn’t have that awareness yet to do so. This caused him to miss some open targets for what could have been big plays and instead he scrambled and settled for less.
He is fairly consistent mechanically when throwing to his right and it makes a difference in his throws. His accuracy and ball placement is much stronger throwing this way. He will get into a bad habit of fading when throwing to his left and not stepping into his throws, which causes him to float the ball and not put it exactly where it should be.
His delivery is low and he isn’t the tallest guy, so it could be an issue with him getting the ball knocked down at the line at the college level, but for now I don’t think it’s a huge issue.
It’s not surprising that Kendall took every snap out of the shotgun and is best suited to play in a spread system. He’s a good enough athlete to be used at times in the run game and not just from the pocket.
I like Kendall’s potential to develop into a solid starting quarterback down the road in college and think he should be able to improve quite a bit mechanically. In order to be great and not just solid though, I’d like to see him develop better awareness in the pocket as a senior and during the beginning of his college career.
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Jamie Uyeyama was a way too small defensive tackle at Idaho State University and a more appropriately sized rush end at Simon Fraser University. He was a coach at the college and high school level and is the son of Ron Uyeyama, a member of the Delta Sports Hall of Fame and high school football coach for over 30 years (hence the site name, Son of a Coach).