By Greg Powers
Published March 19, 2013
Scout.com talks with the QB Edge quarterback coach Skip Stitzell about some of the prospects he has been training in the Class of 2014. Dimonic McKinzy (Kan.), Rafe Peavey (Mo.), Tyler Creath (Mo.), Jacob Kaiser (Mo.) and Sam Straub (Ia.)...
In recent years, Skip Stiztell (QB Edge), Fayette, Mo., has trained some of the top arms in the country.
He has trained quarterbacks who have starred on the high school, collegiate, and NFL levels. Players like Josh Freeman (Kansas State), Blaine Gabbert (Missouri), Logan Gray (Georgia), Alex Carder (Western Michigan), Nathan Scheelhaase (Illinois), Christian Hackenberg (Penn State), Gunner Kiel (Notre Dame) and Tyler Matthews (TCU) are a few among many of the BCS level players he has worked with in recent signing classes.
'Coach Skip' feels that he has a nice group of throwers coming out in 2014 and he recently spoke with Scout.com about their abilities and talents.
"These are all guys that I have spent a lot of time with and had the opportunity over several years to really develop a great relationship with," Sttzell informed. "Very coachable, great work ethic. They are very dedicated group and dedicated with how they work and what they do."
Coach Skip on Mckinzy: "Dimonic has elite athleticism and he has a strong arm. He makes things happen, makes plays happen and can pretty much make all of the throws. He can extend plays and keeps defensive coordinators wondering what he might do. He throws really well on the run, outside of the pocket. Is a very good leader on and off of the field."
Recruiting: McKinzy holds offer from schools like Nebraska, Kansas, Minnesota and Iowa. Schools like Indiana, Northern Illinois, Illinois, Iowa State Northwestern, and Purdue.
He will compete in an Elite 11 Camp, yet to be determined.
Coach Skip on Peavey: "Rafe is very accurate and has a strong arm. One of the most overall consistent guys I have. He is a very good athlete -- he runs deceivingly well. The first time I saw a game and saw him take off I was really surprised at his overall athleticism and speed. He is accurate outside of the pocket, so he can make all the throws. A definite top level guy."
Recruiting: Peavey has committed to Arkansas, but offers have still rolled in from schools like Syracuse, Virginia Tech, North Carolina, Nebraska, Boston College, and Arizona Stat.e
He will compete in the DFW Elite 11 on 4/6.
Coach Skip on Creath: "He has a great mind for the game. He has very good vision down the field and makes sound decisions. He is very accurate on his mid-level and under quicker throws. He can get rid of the ball quickly when he has too. Really spins the ball. Has good anticipation and can develop in to an exceptional quarterback."
Recruiting: Creath is hearing from schools like Arizona, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisville, Michigan State, Missouri, Western Michigan, and Northern Iowa.
He will compete in the Chicago Elite 11 on 5/2.
Coach Skip on Kaiser: "He is definitely an under the radar guy. He has got velocity, a very strong arm. He has real good feet, with a quick release. He has a live arm, after he learns the art of touch on his throws he could be a complete weapon."
Recruiting: Kaiser is hearing the most from Memphis and Tulsa.
He will compete in the DFW Elite 11 on 4/6.
Coach Skip on Straub: "Sam throws an exceptional deep ball. He moves around well in the pocket. He is very attentive and pays close attention to his mechanics in workouts and on the field. He has progressed a lot in that area. He distributes the ball well -- does a nice job of spreading it around the whole field."
Recruiting: Straub is hearing from schools like Iowa State, Michigan State, Missouri, Wisconsin, and Northern Colorado.
He will compete in the Chicago Elite 11 on 5/2.
EXCERPT from the ESPN article written by Elizabeth Merrill
Hey Blaine, what sets you apart from other quarterbacks?
"What does?" Gabbert says. "Do you know what does?"
He's been working on these answers, really, since the eighth grade. That's when he started to grow big and tall and his dad, Chuck, asked if he was serious about football and wanted some help.
"Absolutely," Blaine said. So the Gabberts invested in a personal trainer for their oldest boy. Two years later, Gabbert and his brother Tyler started doing individual work with a quarterback specialist named Skip Stitzell.
Stitzell stood near the doorway at Gabbert's pro day last week, right next to Chuck Gabbert and the rest of the village that it took to build this first-round specimen. Stitzell lives in the small rural town of Fayette, Mo., and drove 200 miles every other week to spend two hours with Gabbert. Stitzell never played college football. But he trained and traveled to hone his craft, and has tutored 23 Division I quarterbacks.
"He was probably 6-foot-3 [at 15]," Stitzell said. "I went to the Ohio State Nike camp, and I can remember a couple of coaches asking me, 'Who's the big kid from Ballwin, Mo.?' Because at the time, nobody knew who he was. "You're not going to outwork him, and he's just been God blessed by having that size and athleticism and speed."
There would be knocks on the junior's NFL readiness, the most notable one pointing at Mizzou's system. The Tigers run a spread offense, with Gabbert operating out of the shotgun formation. But he had experience in a pro-style offense in high school and has been tutored by Stitzell on five-step drops and playing under center.
EXCERPT from the Sunday, March 13, 2011 Tribune article written by Dave Matter
If anything has been established through four days of Missouri's first genuine quarterback competition in nearly a decade, Gabbert broke that secret yesterday: The redshirt freshman has the arm to challenge for the chance to succeed his older brother as MU's 2011 quarterback.
"He has one of the strongest arms I've ever been around," said Skip Stitzell, who trained both Blaine and Tyler Gabbert at his Fayette-based quarterback academy before they came to Missouri. "And to go along with that, he has an incredibly quick release."
Not since Gary Pinkel chose redshirt freshman Brad Smith over senior Kirk Farmer in 2002 has the separation between Missouri's top quarterback options been so blurry. All three candidates — James Franklin, Ashton Glaser and Gabbert — split series evenly among the top three units yesterday. And for the second consecutive practice, Gabbert produced like he won't be long for the No. 3 slot.
"My No. 1 goal coming into spring ball was to get better every day," said Gabbert, who like his brother came to MU from Parkway West. "I'm just trying to put good practices back to back. That's when you really start feeling comfortable."
"He's comfortable with a lot of things," Yost said. "You can start to see the growing up, the maturing."
The same is true for Gabbert, who completed 23 of 34 passes during live drills the past two days. The 6-foot Gabbert unloads the ball with a shorter, more compact release than his 6-4 brother. That's a natural difference, Stitzell said, considering Tyler's smaller frame. While Blaine takes longer to wind back and transfer his weight, Tyler's release is more sudden.
"It's like a rattlesnake getting ready to strike," Stitzell said.
He struck yesterday with one of the finest throws of the spring, a 20-yard rocket to L'Damian Washington, wedged between two defenders.
Gabbert attributed his snappy release to years of making quick throws as a second baseman.
"I'm not as big and don't have as much stuff to move," he said.
EXCERPT from the February 28, 2011, Sporting News article written by Steve Greenberg.
What the analysts might not know is that Gabbert, from the age of 15, has been tutored in pro-style passing by a personal quarterback coach named Skip Stitzell.
A 61-year-old who never played past high school, Stitzell has been a regular on the major quarterback camp circuit, working with prospects such as Matt Ryan, Matthew Stafford and, on an extensive basis, Josh Freeman.
When Gabbert was in high school, Stitzell often drove the 100-plus miles from his home north of Columbia, Mo., for training sessions with Gabbert at Hammer's facility. During Gabbert's college years, he spent hundreds of hours — during nonpractice periods for the Tigers — on Stitzell's home turf a half-hour from campus in tiny Fayette.
"He was always working on three-step, five-step and some seven-step drops from under center," Stitzell says. "We were keeping him in position for the NFL. Some of these (spread) guys, they go five years of college without doing any of it. Blaine is very good with mechanics, very good with footwork. He's got an NFL-style arm, can make all the throws, has the size and athleticism. And then there's the best part: his mentality, his drive, his focus. Nobody wants this more than Blaine."
EXCERPT from the February 2, 2011, TwinCities.com Pioneer Express article written by Marcus R. Fuller.
Skip Stitzell, who trains Shortell during the offseason, said Shortell was more confident he could compete for playing time with the Gophers right away. The Wolverines return Big Ten offensive player of the year Denard Robinson at quarterback.
"I think that was a big thing," said Stitzell, founder of the Quarterback's Edge football clinic in Missouri.
Stitzell also has worked with Missouri's Blaine Gabbert, Illinois' Nathan Scheelhaase and former Kansas State and current Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman.
Stitzell compared Shortell's height, arm strength and pocket presence to that of Freeman. He also praised Shortell's work ethic, maturity and intelligence for an 18-year-old quarterback.
Stitzell said he would be surprised if Shortell isn't at least the No. 2 quarterback next season.
"Max has very good pocket presence," Stitzell said. "He knows when to slide up or move around a bit. He can still keep his eyes downfield and make the throw. With those attributes and everything, he can do well in their offense."
Coach helped QB master the attack.
EXCERPT from the January 27, 2011, Tribune article written by Dave Matter .
"Corbin's always known he wanted to be at MU," said Thomas, who served as Hickman's offensive coordinator in 2008-09. "That's what he always wanted to do."
Skip Stitzell heard the same from Berkstresser. The quarterback coach has trained Berkstresser at his Fayette-based camp the last four years. After the QB said he was committing to Missouri, Stitzell wanted to make sure he was hearing him right.
"I said, 'Look, you're telling me if Texas or Oklahoma or USC or whoever comes along in the next year and a half, you already know that Missouri's the only place you want to be?' " Stitzell said. "And he says, 'Yep.' "
"Getting to work with Eric Thomas, who I think is one of just a handful high school coaches who really knows how to coach the spread … that was great for Corbin," Stitzell said, "because he was working with someone who taught him how to read defenses out of the spread and what you're looking for to beat certain defenses and certain coverages."
After getting a crash course in Thomas' system, Berkstresser told Stitzell he was "embarrassed" with how much he didn't know about reading coverages and directing an offense.
"But I told him, 'You're dealing with someone who's at the upper level of teaching the spread,' " Stitzell said. "It worked out well for him, and that's why his numbers skyrocketed."
In Berkstresser, the Tigers have landed a quarterback who has doubled as a standout pitcher in baseball, an experience that Stitzell said has made Berkstresser a more advanced thrower for his age.
"He plays with his feet underneath him," Stitzell said. "In other words, he doesn't have a tendency to overstride and get himself in trouble in that way. … And he very rarely throws off his back foot because of being a pitcher for as long as he was, he just has that natural transfer of his weight moving forward."
By Mike DeArmond
The Kansas City Star
Wednesday tutoring session began like so many others.
Then he popped the question.
"If I know I don't want to play anywhere else," Berkstresser said, "should I just go ahead and commit to Missouri ?"
Berkstresser's QB coach, Skip Stitzell — who works on camps with many high schools and colleges, including Missouri — countered with a question of his own.
"You're telling me that if Florida , USC, Notre Dame, Texas — any of those programs — came after you, you have no interest in them?" Stitzell said.
Berkstresser did not hesitate.
"I just want to play for Missouri ," he said.
Well, then, Stitzell said, if Berkstresser's mind was made up, his heart set …
The next day, June 18, Berkstresser accepted Missouri 's offer of a football scholarship — for the 2011 college season.
Berkstresser, Stitzell confirmed, may not be the only rising junior quarterback to pledge to a college with two prep seasons to play before his college debut.
"For the nation," said Stitzell, who runs the nationally known Quarterback's Edge training service out of Fayette, Mo. , "I think 2011 is going to be a very strong year for quarterbacks."
For Missouri and the Kansas City area especially, according to early listings by Rivals.com, the national recruiting network.
Rivals has yet to publish 2011 position rankings, but Berkstresser is just one of four quarterbacks from the state of Missouri or the Kansas City area already listed as Division I prospects for that recruiting class.
Also listed is Max Shortell of Bishop Miege, who has drawn recruiting interest from Iowa , Kansas , Kansas State, Missouri , Nebraska and Tulsa .
Raymore-Peculiar's Cameron Coffman already has an offer from Kansas State , where brother Carson is a quarterback, and is on the recruiting list for Missouri , where brother Chase was an All-America tight end.
Across the state, St. Louis Chaminade's Christian Suntrup has offers from Nebraska and Stanford, along with interest from Missouri , Colorado , Iowa , Northwestern and Wisconsin .
In part because of Stitzell — and plugged-in fathers like Paul Coffman — this area has earned a reputation as fertile ground for promising college football talent. Particularly quarterbacks.
Two area quarterbacks set to begin their college careers this fall ranked among the top 15 quarterbacks in the nation by Rivals.com.
Nathan Scheelhaase, who signed with Illinois out of Rockhurst High, was No. 7 in the dual-threat QB rankings.
Blaine Dalton, who signed with Missouri out of Blue Springs South, was No. 12 on that same list.
"The last three years, there have been at least two — if not three — Missouri and Kansas City kids go Division I as quarterbacks," Stitzell said. "The level of quality of quarterbacks is getting #ffffff. And more and more schools are recognizing it."
Early commitments are not binding, on the player or the school. Blaine Gabbert, slated to be Missouri's starting quarterback, angered Missouri fans by slipping out of St. Louis to commit to Nebraska. Then he changed his mind and opted for Mizzou.
Former Grandview High quarterback Josh Freeman pulled a similar switch, jilting the Cornhuskers for Kansas State.Such occurrences are why Paul Coffman encouraged his first two sons to wait and fully consider committing rather than jumping early.
"I don't want 'em backing out on anything," Coffman said. "That's not the way we as a family try to conduct our business.
"There should be no word such as decommit. If you commit to somebody, you're in for the long haul."
Like the marriage vow.
"For better or worse, richer or poorer," Coffman said.
Berkstresser said he feels the same way, which is one reason he vows his commitment to Missouri will remain firm.
"There was never much doubt," Berkstresser said. "I knew that's where I wanted to play. No matter what other schools offered me, I wanted to play at Mizzou."
Berkstresser's dad went to Missouri. So did his mom.
"I love it there," Corbin — and do not call him Corby — Berkstresser said.
"A few schools might come in and try to change my mind. But all I can say is, 'I've already made up my mind.'"
In almost every case, these rising stars have not yet reached even their high school football zenith.
Berkstresser, who threw for about 1,400 yards last season as a sophomore, tossed 10 touchdown passes against 11 interceptions.
The asterisk on the interceptions is that five came in one game against Blue Springs South, when the game plan tried to ignore the effects of wind gusts of upwards of 40 miles an hour.
Suntrup finished with 1,362 yards passing and nine TD tosses.
Coffman threw for 2,369 yards and 23 touchdowns against only seven interceptions and really rose to collegiate recruiters' attention when he threw for 532 yards and five touchdowns against Liberty High School.
Berkstresser admitted his case might be special.
"I only want to go to one school," he said.
The early offers and acceptance by rising juniors, however, have some worried.
What is to prevent a high school star from accepting even a nonbinding college offer and then, as a form of insurance against injury, passing up his senior season of prep ball while concentrating on private coaching in preparation for college ball?
"I can see some people doing that," Berkstresser said. "But really, who would miss their whole senior season of football? A senior year you've been playing for since you were in eighth grade?"
It is a scenario Stitzell believes might come to pass, and that might require NCAA attention if it becomes common.
"In a couple of years, I think you're going to see the NCAA doing some things," Stitzell said. "Either adding that second signing day, maybe in August. Or adding a stipulation that if you commit (early), you have to play your senior year."
The early commitment by Berkstresser to Missouri could have an effect on both Coffman and Suntrup.
The Tigers have shown recruiting interest in both. But will the commitment of Berkstresser change that, and should Coffman or Suntrup already be looking elsewhere when it comes time to take official visits?
"I don't know," said Paul Coffman. "That's kind of up to them. If they don't offer him, then we're not in the picture."
More and more, the college recruiting picture seems to be changing. With the move toward earlier and earlier commitments, it is starting to show the improbable composition of a Picasso.
By Mike DeArmond
The Kansas City Star
Skip Stitzell figures Chase Daniel and Todd Reesing can draw themselves up as close to 6 feet tall as either can get and take a bow.
The glass ceiling on "little" quarterbacks may finally be cracking in college football because of the play last season of Daniel at Missouri and Reesing at KU. And throw in Cody Hawkins at Colorado , too.
"More and more, coaches are looking beyond how tall a quarterback is," said Stitzell, founder of the Quarterback Edge development program and a coach for the national Elite 11 camps who on Tuesday was working Missouri's annual football camp at William Jewell College in Liberty .
"Daniel and Reesing, and the kid at Colorado , opened up a lot of eyes."
Missouri lists Daniel as finally having achieved the 6-foot height that was about the only thing that kept him from being given a scholarship at his home-state University of Texas .
Daniel isn't quite up to that measure, of course. But last season he threw for 4,306 yards and 33 touchdowns and was a Heisman Trophy finalist.
Reesing, another former Texas schoolboy star shunned by the Lone Star powers, is listed at 5-10 by Kansas . He isn't. But he threw for 3,486 yards and 33 touchdowns for the Jayhawks a year ago.
Hawkins doesn't look to be quite the 5-11 at which Colorado lists him. But the head coach's son threw for 2,693 yards and 19 touchdowns a year ago.
So does size still matter?
"Not as much," said Dave Yost, MU's recruiting coordinator and quarterback coach.
The reason is the spread offense, the habit of dropping the quarterback 6 to 7 yards behind the line of scrimmage, and increasing the gaps between linemen.
"It's not as hard to look over those big linemen," Stitzell said. "They can see more.
"Schools, they can go for just a little bit more athleticism rather than some guy who is going to drop back in the pocket, then step up and throw."
There have been little big men at quarterback throughout the history of college football and even some in pro football.
Davey O'Brien won the Heisman Trophy at TCU in 1938. Doug Flutie was a Pro Bowler. Eddie LeBaron led the NFL in passing for Washington in 1958.
All were just 5-7.
But at the close of the last NFL season, only one NFL quarterback was listed under 6 feet: Seneca Wallace of Seattle .
So, whatever the effects of a possible college revolution, the pro game hasn't been much affected.
"It hasn't yet," Stitzell admitted. "But I guarantee, Drew Brees (of New Orleans ) is not a big guy. … Rex Grossman (of Chicago ) is not a big guy." Brees is listed at 6-0, Grossman at 6-1.
Not all colleges have thrown the doors open to quarterbacks of the Daniel and Reesing mold. That's why those two quarterbacks ended up at MU and KU.
"That's part of marketing yourself," Stitzell said. "Pull that roster up. Look at the size, the speed of a school's quarterbacks.
"It doesn't do you any good to market yourself to a school that their last three quarterbacks have been 6-4 or 6-5.
"But that's changing," Stitzell reiterated, once again crediting Daniel and Reesing. "They've really helped out the shorter quarterbacks."