John Schrock solidifies hold on No. 3 QB job for CU Buffs
Freshman was lightly recruited out of high school
By Ryan Thorburn Camera Sports Writer
08/18/2011 07:12:14 PM MDT
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John Schrock, now a 6-foot-4, 215-pound college freshman, was just a wide-eyed kid at Folsom Field on Nov. 23, 2001.
He vividly remembers Chris Brown bludgeoning the "Blackshirts" for six rushing touchdowns that day, but doesn't have the infamous final score memorized like so many Buffs fans.
"The one I remember the most was the CU-Nebraska game when we won like 62 to 14, or something like that," Schrock said.
The final was 62-36.
"OK," Schrock said. "We left early."
Schrock grew up in the Kansas City area but became a fan of the Buffs, instead of Kansas, Kansas State or Missouri, due to family ties under the Flatirons.
His mom, Mary, is a Fairview High graduate. His grandfather is Boulder-based sports agent Jack Mills, who introduced him to Dan Graham after CU's historic upset of Nebraska a decade ago that led to the program's only Big 12 title.
When Jon Embree, one of Mills' clients, was named CU's head coach, the lightly recruited Shawnee Mission (Kan.) East quarterback made a smart preseason audible.
John Schrock works during the Thursday's practice.
Cliff Grassmick / August 18, 2011
"My grandfather didn't do anything. Absolutely nothing," Schrock said when asked how his invitation to walk on at CU came about. "I called them and introduced myself and let them know who I was and everything, sent in my highlight tape."
Embree, looking for live arms to add to the mix behind starting quarterback Tyler Hansen, invited Schrock for a visit.
"I just kind of came right out and said, 'Listen, this is where I want to be and I'd love to walk on if there's an opportunity here,'" Schrock said.
Through two weeks of fall camp, no player on the CU roster has made more of the opportunity to impress the new staff than Schrock.
"He definitely solidified himself as the No. 3 guy," Embree said after Thursday's practice, where Hansen was given a rest and Schrock was running the first-team offense. "I feel good about our quarterback position."
Embree named Hansen -- the on-again, off-again starter the three previous seasons under the vacillating Dan Hawkins -- the undisputed No. 1 quarterback after spring drills. Backup Nick Hirschman has missed most of fall camp with a foot injury.
Schrock has clearly used the extra practice time to his advantage, quickly separating himself from the two new scholarship quarterbacks -- freshman Stevie Joe Dorman and junior college transfer Brent Burnette -- on the depth chart.
"I didn't really know what the situation was going to be like. I hoped for the best, I prepared for the best, but you never really know how things are going to work out," Schrock said. "Things couldn't have worked out better with the amount of reps I've gotten. You can watch things as much as you want, but until you actually do it, it's hard to really, truly get better. Things have just worked out really well."
During today's closed scrimmage at Folsom Field, Schrock's goal is to solidify his precious spot in the pecking order -- Embree will take three quarterback to Hawaii for the season opener -- by showing improved mechanics, ball handling and making all of the right reads.
The new staff has clearly taken notice of Schrock's grasp of the playbook and presence in the pocket.
"Poise," CU offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy said when asked what impresses him about Schrock. "Obviously, it's not perfect for him yet, but the bottom line is I love his calm demeanor. Nothing ever seems to faze him, and that's what you want in any quarterback."
Schrock didn't receive any Division I scholarship offers after throwing for 1,634 yards and 14 touchdowns last fall on a high school team that didn't throw the ball a lot. When two quarterback prospects de-committed from CU, he felt like playing for the Buffs was still meant to be.
So far, it's also a dream come true for Embree.
"I think if (Schrock) would have had a different high school offense or different players around him in high school, he would have been recruited highly," Hansen said. "But it didn't work out for him, and we're happy to have him."
The Buffs need Hansen to have a huge season in order to make any noise in the Pac-12. Hirschman's experience and pre-injury performance have earned him the backup job.
But if No. 1 were to get injured and No. 2 were still not healthy, the head coach isn't going to change any game plans.
"We can run the whole offense with him. That's been the great thing with him getting all of the reps he has gotten," Embree said. "I feel very comfortable with John Schrock if we needed to play him."
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