We have been waiting for some big recruiting news out of the Indiana program for some time now, and of course I am on a plane headed to Atlanta when it breaks!
Well, no matter, instead of just breaking down the basics of the commitment, as has been done elsewise, I figured we could actually dig a little deeper and talk about the game that Tommy Stevens will be bringing with him to Bloomington.
While Stevens wasn't the only quarterback on the board for coach Kevin Wilson and his staff (Texas quarterback Quinton Dormady was scheduled to visit campus soon, a visit I now fully expect him to cancel) I do believe he was their realistic number one at the quarterback spot for 2015.
The number one passer in the state of Indiana, and twentieth ranked dual threat quarterback in the nation according to the 247 composite, Stevens had a plethora of offers from the likes of Iowa, Nebraska, Michigan State, Minnesota, and others. Offensive coordinator Kevin Johns was his lead recruiter and was able to beat out essentially a quarter of the Big Ten for the right to Stevens services at the colligate level.
While his statistics were far from gaudy during his junior year, it was a solid campaign for Stevens. The Decatur Central product accounted for over 2,600 total yards and 25 touchdowns. A recruit who seems to have his head on straight, Stevens said that this wasn't just a football decision, as he expects to be a business major at one of the best business schools in the nation.
On the field Stevens possesses ideal measurables for the position, and in terms of size actually looks the part of a pocket passer more than a dual threat. He is deceptively athletic both in his ability to move around the pocket and as a designed runner within an offense. His frame looks to be able to take on significant muscle mass, which will be needed, as the young man is hovering at around 200 pounds currently. His height, 6-foot-4, allows him the vision needed for both his passing and running game.
In high school he has played in a run dominated scheme, a Wing-T/veer offense that does at least feature a heavy dose of play action passing. However it has limited passing opportunities, which has restricted his passing development. Within his offense Stevens does not deal with multiple progression reads or a full passing tree, which is something that will have to be developed over time.
As a runner, he takes opportunities when they are presented to him, but does not force the issue. Stevens is not afraid of contact in the running game, and will lower his shoulder to deliver a blow to fight for extra yards. He rushed for over 1,000 yards last season on the ground, while making 10 trips into the end zone with his legs.
The first thing you will notice in regards to Stevens throwing the football is that his methods can be a bit unorthodox. He pushes the ball at times as a passer, and his point of delivery is very low (which he gets away with in high school due to his height). In the passing game Stevens does flash some accuracy down the field on deeper throws. He can throw at different speeds, leads his targets away from defenders well, and exhibits an ability to drop the ball over the top of defenders. His arm strength is inconsistent, but he shows flashes that touch on elite levels. While his delivery might be quirky, he is still able to get rid of the football rather quickly. Stevens is able to pair his arm talent and his mobility well. He throws very well on the run to both sides, and is accurate while doing so.
Currently Stevens' value is in his athleticism and potential. To be frank, he is a runner, a player who can create when the play breaks down around him. His potential lies in his passing game. As a thrower he has not developed (again, due to his high school scheme), but that doesn't mean that it isn't within him to do so. In addition he needs to be developed and refined mechanically. A late bloomer, Stevens has tremendous developmental upside with all the measurable you would look for in a quarterback.
Coach Kevin Wilson got his quarterback for the class of 2015, but more importantly he might have secured a leader for this class. A player who from early on in the process takes it upon himself to reach out to other prospects and help to build this class to its fullest potential. Only time would tell, but it would seem as if this could be the domino that this staff needs to start moving up the board in the Big Ten.