By Bruce Feldman
Editor’s Note: The following is a transcribed interview between XandOLabs.com Senior Research Manager Mike Kuchar and Fox Sports college football analyst Bruce Feldman. Feldman just completed his fourth book The QB: The Making of Modern Quarterbacks which can be found by clicking here.
After reading Bruce’s fourth book (after previously reading the first three), I found this one to be a telling narrative on the process the more prominent quarterback trainers use to develop their clients to get them NFL ready. Bruce is known for getting all-access availability to tell his stories, so I wasn’t surprised that he was given cart blanche into Trent Dilfer’s Elite 11 Organization and how the most well known quarterback gurus develop their clients and prepare them for the scouting combine and the NFL draft. Bruce’s piece was centered around five specific personalities that work with these quarterbacks:
Trent Dilfer– Head Coach of the Elite 11 quarterback camp and ESPN analyst. Former Super Bowl champion quarterback with the Baltimore Ravens.
George Whitfield Jr– Founder and owner of Whitfield Athletix who has worked with Johnny Manziel and Cam Newton and who is currently working with Jameis Winston and Bryce Petty for this spring’s NFL Draft.
Yogi Roth– Host and analyst for the ‘Elite 11’ quarterback show on ESPN, college football analyst for the Pac-12 Network who also co-authored his first book with Seattle Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll titled Win Forever.
Tom House– Former pitching coach at the University of Southern California who also played–and coached in the Majors, later helping Nolan Ryan and Randy Johnson, among others. He also trains NFL quarterbacks such as Tom Brady and Drew Brees. He was also portrayed in the movie “Million Dollar Arm” which released in 2014.
Steve Clarkson– Ex CFL QB who is the founder and owner of Dreammaker Academy and has tutored the likes of Ben Roethlisberger, Matt Leinart, Matt Barkley and Jimmy Clausen.
Mike Kuchar (MK): Dilfer makes a lot of references to “dude qualities” citing the intangibles that makes quarterbacks special. He refers to his four intangibles: competitive temperament, functional football intelligence, passing proficiency and trainability. He talks about thermostat vs. thermometer, being able to feel pressure and respond to it. He mentions specifically that this is not and inherent trait, but can be developed over time. How does Dilfer develop it? What can coaches at lower levels do to facilitate this trait?
Bruce Feldman (BF): What I found so interesting about Dilfer is not only is he consumed by the world of the QB, but he’s savvy enough and connected enough to have taken his passion and devised a 3-dimensional game plan that he’s put in effect to leverage his big ESPN platform and seed it down to the grass roots level. In regard to something like the thermostat vs. thermometer leader and how Dilfer believes that can be developed, I think back to something David Blough, now the QB at Purdue told me about how he had studied previous Elite 11 shows on ESPN. This is what Blough said:
“I learned it’s about a lot more ‘mental,’ the leadership and being able to adapt and make plays work,” Blough later told me. “It’s a lot more than just being able to throw the ball. It’s all about how you’re wired, how you work. A thousand kids can throw the ball, but it’s the intangibles that separate you. They (the good ones) really stress it. That was something I had to focus on if I wanted to be noticed. I was slapping people’s hands when they caught a pass for me; I tried to bring high energy, and it seemed to work. So it’s stuck with me.”