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By LARRY VAUGHT
Ryan Hockman was a three-sport standout at Harrison (Ohio) High School who earned SuperPrep Magazine All-American honors as a quarterback and was named the Ohio Player of the Year in 1987 before going to the University of Kentucky to play his college football.
Now he runs Score 6 QB Academy in Seattle as has developed a reputation for helping quarterbacks improve. His list of clients includes Michigan’s Devin Gardner, the top-ranked quarterback in the 2010 recruiting class, and Ohio State’s Braxton Miller, the nation’s top overall prospect in the 2011 class.
He has also coached on the high school, college and professional level.
He’s heard and seen plenty already on Caldwell County junior quarterback Elijah Sindelar, who got a scholarship offer from Kentucky last week after his impressive performance at UK’s summer camp. Hockman has even given Sindelar’s name to Ohio State recruiters when he was asked about top quarterback prospects he knew, especially after another former UK quarterback, Freddie Maggard, raved about Sindelar.
“I haven’t seen him live, but he looked impressive on film. It’s hard to tell exactly on film, even with today’s quality of film. That’s why it is rare for a college coaches to offer a player (a scholarship) if they have not seen him live,” said Hockman, who currently lives in Seattle. “But I know Ohio State really likes him.
“He is really smooth. He was a three-sport star and has not really just focused on the position that much (he has now given up basketball and plays only football and baseball). People are intrigued by his ability and his athleticism. He’s raw, but you can see his ability. It won’t take long to master the mechanics of the footwork. Where guys struggle is if they are not a baseball player, they struggle mechanically up top. I know he will be fine. He does not have a long delivery for a baseball player. He is a good enough athlete to make adjustments. You can see that on film.”
Sindelar, who is already being projected as a possible first-round major league baseball draft pick, apparently will go to camp at Ohio State.
“If he goes up there and gets an offer like I think, look out. If you get an early offer from Ohio State, a lot can happen,” Hockman said.
Sindelar has good size, but Hockman says the recent success of quarterbacks like Russell Wilson (Seattle Seahawks) and Johnny Manziel (Texas A&M) have shown it is about creating space and not the size of the quarterback.
“If you are 6-4, you don’t have to create as much space. That will never change. But more of the attraction now is if the quarterback can move and is smooth and effortless. Sindelar has a burst when he needs it. He’s not a 4.5 (40 yard dash) guy. He’s not playing against Florida or SEC caliber athletes, but he still looks like a man among boys,” Hockman said. “When he has to, he has that burst he needs. He separates real fast. That’s more important to people than being a 4.5 guy. He’s not a project. He is not the type athlete Braxton Miller is, but he’s a smooth operator.
“I like guys that play baseball because of the number of throws they get from different arm slots. If you play in the infield, you have got to change your arm slot. In today’s offenses with all the quick screens, you have to have different arms slots to make throws. With the offense Kentucky runs now, the quarterback will almosts always be throwing through bodies on quick screens. Baseball guys like Sindelar can do that. Some others might struggle.”
Hockman sees Ohio State’s sudden interest in Sindelar, as well as John Hardin senior tackle Matt Elam, as a sign that new UK coach Mark Stoops’ recruiting success in Ohio could be troubling the Buckeyes and coach Urban Meyer.
“Just from afar, there are signals to me that Urban Meyer is a little irked or nervous. Going after Elijah is a big signal,” Hockman said. “Stoops is going into Ohio and picking off really good Ohio kids. It has been a long time since Kentucky has gone into Ohio and done that, so it is probably not sitting well with Urban. I am sure that has a little bit to do with Ohio State’s interest in Kentucky kids.”