QB Country
QB Country: Quarterback Training & Development

QB Country Blog: Want to play QB? Be prepared to be misunderstood

By David Morris, QB Country Founder

From the outside looking in, the quarterback position is the most glamorous position in sports. It’s Hollywood, headlines, and glory. It’s dating the prettiest cheerleader. It’s riding at the front of the championship parade. It’s Elite 11, 5-stars and “6’5 with a cannon.” It’s big money. It’s having a certain look.

But if you play or coach the position, if you live it, you realize pretty quick that nothing could be further from the truth. Don’t get me wrong, playing quarterback is a privilege and it comes with real rewards. It’s just that the mountaintop moments are fewer and farther between than most people would think. Fifty-percent of the time (more?), playing quarterback isn’t all that fun. It’s blue-collar, in-the-trenches stuff. It’s coming at you from every direction. It’s hard and disappointing. And that’s true no matter what your pedigree is or how tall, strong or athletic you might be. Far from “glamorous,” I believe quarterback is the toughest, most misunderstood position in sports.

“It must be good to be the QB”
Last Friday was a typical night in QB Country and yet there was nothing “typical” about it for the kids we train. In just the QBC Mobile area alone (from Pensacola, FL to Gulfport, MS) there was a wide and unpredictable variety of performances:

We had a guy who threw for five TDs and won 54-7 and another who threw a pick on his first drive and got yanked. We had a kid who threw two picks in the first half and played the best football of his life in the second half. We had a guy who came off the bench and won, and another who played a really good first half and struggled the rest of the game. There were multiple guys who went an efficient 7-11, 8-12, 9-13 with no TD passes. We had a bunch of kids who are second-stringers and are a “play away” but that play didn’t come. I’m sure that this Friday the results will be similarly diverse, with different outcomes for different guys.

The point in all of this is that no matter who you are, hard times are coming. Even Tom Brady threw interceptions in five straight games last year.

And this is just what happens on the field.

On Saturday morning, I got a phone call from a dad whose son played well the night before, but made a few mistakes and is dealing with the emotional ups and downs of the season. Everyone sees when you throw those picks and miss the open guy. You hear it in the stands, you read it in the blogs, you see it on social media. And you’ve got to figure out how to deal with it. It’s inescapable. It’s difficult.

The first game of my junior year in high school was a nice win for the team, but I also learned a little about the realities of playing quarterback. I played pretty good that night and threw three TDs, but I also threw two picks — young, dumb mistakes, thankfully nothing devastating. I remember walking into the locker room the next morning and two senior linebackers were in there, one of them holding the newspaper and pointing to the headline, which read something along the lines of “Morris passes McT to victory.” He looked up at me and said — dead serious, “It must be good to be the QB, you throw two picks and get headlines in the paper.” He was right on both accounts. It was cool to make the headlines, but those two picks were pretty brutal and everyone in the stands knew it.

It’s one of those things that made an impression with me. As a quarterback you’re out there. You’re vulnerable. No matter what you do, even in victory, someone’s going to be there to remind you what you did wrong. And just because you win doesn’t mean people aren’t going to judge you or that you’ll even be named starter for the next game.

This is the nature of being a quarterback. You play a very hard position and maybe the hardest thing to do is to be consistent at it and hold on to what you have. Can you block out the noise and stay confident in who you are?

Quarterbacks are “pretty boys”
Everyone is wearing white jerseys at practice and you’re the only one wearing green, so right off the bat, people will say you’re not tough. You know what they’re thinking, “It must be nice to not get hit all day. Protect pretty boy, to heck with all of us.”

Here’s the truth: the reason you’re protected during the week is because you’re going to get a beatdown on Friday, Saturday or Sunday. These teams are coming after you. They’re game-planning for you. They want to hurt you. They’re doing everything in their power to make life miserable for you. If you talk to any QB’s father, all of them say “he’s getting hit almost every time he throws the ball.” Guess what, that’s the way it is. We play a position that is very physical. Ideally, we would like to not get hit that often, but this is a quarterback’s reality. The mentally tough ones can handle that reality. They can handle getting pummeled on Friday nights. The idea that a quarterback isn’t tough is blatantly wrong. The really good ones are the toughest guys on the field.

The quarterback position requires a broad range of skills, talents and responsibilities that will all be challenged over time. There are physical aspects, but it’s the mental side where you’ve really got to be special. Your strengths will be questioned, your weaknesses critiqued and your confidence will constantly be tested.

Quarterbacks are always exposed — there is no place to hide. You’re a leader whether you like it or not. Everything you do matters and is magnified ten times. The way you play, prepare, encourage, discipline; your effort in sprints and conditioning, your demeanor and body language, your ability to handle success and failure and learn from mistakes. Everything. And then you have to do it over and over again and be consistently productive.

Quarterbacks are always exposed — there’s no place to hide.

Grown-ups can’t do these things. Can you imagine how hard it is for a 17-year old kid? And I haven’t even mentioned your schoolwork, your daily chores and the lonely hours of film review that continue long after everyone else has gone to sleep. 

There’s nothing pretty about it. It gets messy, even ugly. Sometimes it makes you question whether you want to get back out there. Getting through it all takes supreme mental strength and fortitude.

You have to be “6’3, 205”
One glance around the college and pro football landscape should be all it takes to dispel this myth. Quarterbacks come in all shapes and sizes; they’re small and tall, loud and quiet. There was a time when everyone said you had to be 6’3, 205 pounds to be successful. We know by now that’s not true. Look at Tua. Look at Baker. Look at Drew Brees, Russell Wilson, McKenzie Milton at UCF. I’m training a high school junior from Connecticut, Drew Pyne, who’s 6’1 and one of the most sought after quarterbacks in the class of 2020 (30 offers). There are countless stories.

And yet, every year you’ll still hear comments that a guy is too small to make it at the next level. If you’re “undersized” it’s inevitable that you’ll be judged on stature instead of productivity, execution, accuracy and a quarterback’s most important attribute — leadership. All of these things that are so important get overlooked for things that are not that important (measurables). It’s wrong, but it’s reality.

Thankfully, that’s changing. When I was playing, you couldn’t get a look from a D1 school unless you were 6’2 no matter what you did. Colleges and the pros are now realizing that a quarterback doesn’t need to look a certain way. He needs to be poised, tough, competitive and understand how to make decisions. I believe the reason we are seeing better quarterback play in general is because we are now recruiting good quarterbacks, not just guys that fit a certain physical sketch.

That’s great news. If you can get people to buy in, you’ve got a chance whether you’re 5’10 or 6’3. It just may take a little longer till people see what you’ve known all along: it’s more important to be confident and accurate than 6’3 and strong-armed.

“You Signed Up for a Job that Sucks”
During Draft Prep last year, we had a fortunate encounter at our training facility with Marcus Luttrell, the retired US Navy Seal and author, known for his bravery and heroism as the “Lone Survivor” in Operation Red Wing. On the field were Logan Woodside (Toledo/Titans), Riley Ferguson (Memphis), Peter Pujals (Holy Cross) and AJ McCarron (Raiders). After watching our training and feeling like he had something in common with quarterbacks, Marcus gathered with our group and shared some wisdom. Relating the position of quarterback to his special ops role, he said bluntly, “You signed up for a job that sucks.”

This was coming from a guy who was involved in one of the most tragic military operations in recent history. Needless to say, it gave us some pause.

The truth is, I loved playing quarterback and I believe firmly that it’s the best position in sports. I love coaching quarterbacks and telling them the realities of what they’re pursuing. You can’t do it if you think it’s going to be easy. You can’t play for the accolades and the glory. Hopefully, you’ll have some success. Maybe you’ll even get a nice picture in the paper and date the cute cheerleader. But when the positive attention comes, it can’t be the reason you play. If it is, you will never last.

You’ll last not because you’re Hollywood, but because you’re everything but Hollywood.

You’ve toiled in the trenches. You’ve done the hard work. You’ve blocked out the praise and blame. And those three first-half picks? They’ve done nothing to shake your confidence.

Your job “sucks,” but you love it.

You’re misunderstood, but you know the truth.