This many years in to the spread era in college ball, and we’re still hearing stuff like this on the recruiting trail:
Coaches who run so-called pro-style offenses can use this to their advantage, telling quarterbacks that, by playing in a system with elements similar to the NFL standard, they can enhance their chances of becoming (and succeeding as) a pro. At Nebraska, for example, Langsdorf oversees a pro-style system, and earlier this year he helped the Huskers secure a commitment from one of the top pro-style quarterbacks in the class of 2017, Calabasas (Calif.) High’s Tristan Gebbia. “I think the kids look at what they’re going to be doing, what they’re going to be asked to do in an offense, and so I think there’s an advantage to having some similarities to what they would do in college and in the NFL, and I think that is a selling point for us for sure,” Langsdorf says.
By contrast, coaches who run spread offenses often must combat the perception that their systems, no matter how successful against college defenses, will be an impediment to quarterbacks with dreams of playing in the NFL. Multiple spread practitioners spoke to Campus Rush about system classification being used as a means of negative recruiting. The idea—reinforced seemingly every year by NFL analysts, scouts and coaches—is that quarterbacks who come from spread offenses face a greater burden of proof in the pre-draft process than signal-callers with track records of operating pro-style systems.
Says Arizona co-offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Rod Smith, “We’ve heard that: You don’t run a pro-style system. You don’t run a pro-style system, you’re more of a spread, you’re more this. How is that going to get you ready for the pros?” While conceding that it was “more three to four years ago than it was right now,” Clemson co-offensive coordinator/wide receivers coach Jeff Scott, who helped lead the Tigers to the national title game last season, says he has heard a similar line trotted out. “Just guys that say, ‘You don’t want to go play in that offense because it’s a spread, gimmick offense, and it’s not going to prepare you for the NFL.'”
You recruit negatively because it works, I suppose. The problem is that more and more these days the NFL is holding its nose and taking quarterbacks coming out of spread offenses – from Cam Newton to Jared Goff to (likely) Deshaun Watson – as high first round draft picks. At some point in time, it’s going to dawn on NFL scouts and high school quarterbacks that the distinction has lost its meaning. Unless, of course, you really believe the NFL is prepared to spend its money on a developmental league. Yeah, right.