Want to attack every day with the latest UGA football recruiting info? That’s what the Intel brings. This entry serves as the fourth chapter of a month-long series on 5-star Brock Vandagriff. DawgNation spoke to more than 20 sources regarding Vandagriff and his career and what he could be in Athens. We will continue those reports this month.
DawgNation kicked off its “Building Brock” series on Brock Vandagriff last week. The third chapter shares his thoughts on what it meant to him to sign last month and become a Bulldog.
Vandagriff picked up a huge statewide honor on Monday morning. He was named “Mr. Georgia” by the Touchdown Club of Atlanta for the 2020 season. He joins such previous statewide season icons as Jake Fromm, Justin Fields, Dylan Fromm and Jahmyr Gibbs in receiving that award.
The first topic: If called upon early, what will Vandagriff be able to do at UGA?
“I think he would be ready,” Veal said. “That’s because of his father being a football coach and the tutelage he’s given him as a defensive coach helping him understand the defenses. I think that plus his understanding of the offenses and defenses there put together. I think his knowledge base on those two things is above the curve.”
There’s a concern for some fans about that. They see the 10,000 career yards and more than 100 touchdowns in just three seasons and somehow find the sliver of a dark lining in a silver cloud.
It is the fact he played in Georgia’s smallest classification. That obscures what he has done in national events like finishing a consensus top three among the recruiting services at the 2020 Elite 11 in Nashville.
Or that he was hand-picked to be Lincoln Riley’s QB for the 2021 class.
“He still has to play the game,” Veal said. “He still has to whether it is 1A, 2A, 3A, 4A, 5A, 6A or 7A he still has to go out and play the game. That means his ability has to take over. So if you take Brock and insert him at any school in Georgia, then you will think he’s a beast there, too. Will you say he’s a beast there if he does it there, too? That’s always my question back to somebody who says that about the competition he has faced.”
Vandagriff had to utilize the services of very slight linemen playing in Class 1A, too. Or even a 5-foot-6 receiver. His best receiver, Logan Johnson, is a special talent but he’s also right at that height.
“I always use the analogy that everybody says Barry Bonds was on performance-enhancing drugs, right?” Veal asked. “But he still had to hit the ball. He still had to play the game. That’s what Brock is doing he’s playing the game. He’s good enough to have had an Oklahoma offer and then change it to Georgia. So somebody saw something there.”
Ron Veal has an interesting player parallel for Vandagriff
Vandagriff is a 5-star prospect. He’s ranked as the nation’s No. 2 pro-style QB and No. 13 overall prospect (247Sports Composite) for 2021.
Some savvy analysts have name-dropped a litany of arms ranging from Bo Nix to Andrew Luck and everywhere in between. That said, the man who helped fine-tune his delivery offers up a fresh name for the player parallel crowd.
“I think he’s unique,” Veal said when asked to name who Vandagriff reminds him of. “If I was to say this, I know people would probably criticize this but I don’t really care. But a young Dan Marino.”
That’s a nod to the NFL Hall of Famer’s famously quick release.
“He’s big like him,” Veal said while making his case. “He’s strong. He can drive the ball through windows. Some similarities are there.”
There’s even the curly hair. But this 2021 model Marino can clock a 4.7 in the 40. The 1980 model Marino just didn’t have near the same giddy-up with his legs.
“Some people say this is blasphemy but he does have a little bit of it in him,” Veal said. “As far as that release and the gunslinger mentality. It is a little bit of [Dan] Marino and a little bit of [Brett] Favre put together. He runs around and makes plays when he has to. He’s isn’t afraid of anything.”
Noted QB trainer Ron Veal had a couple of big names in mind when asked who does Brock Vandagriff remind him of out on a football field. (Jason Getz/AJC)
The development stages for Brock Vandagriff
Veal sees the total picture right now when he watches Vandagriff.
“I see all the development that has happened with him,” Veal said. “As far as his total game has developed from running to passing to the leadership and understanding down and distance situations to protecting the ball and ball security. I think all of that has improved over time so what I am seeing is the kid is constantly developing.”
That’s his motion. Then looking at his drop. His sets. Those subtle steps and slight movements in the pocket.
“Last year he would have gotten out of the pocket a lot before he got hurt,” Veal said of Vandagriff in 2019. “But he got hurt and when he came back we told him to stay in the pocket a little longer and I think that’s helped his game this year.”
Vandagriff tore his PCL in the fourth week of his senior season. So that led to the same thinking across the final 10 games of his state championship senior year.
What are the next progressions for him as a quarterback?
“Well, there are two parts to that,” Veal said. “He’s going to leave Prince [Avenue Christian] and go to the University of Georgia and he’s going to play with athletes. Nothing against the kids at Prince, but they don’t have the receivers they have at Georgia. So that’s going to increase his accuracy, increase his throwing radius and catch radius. So what I’m getting at is he’s going to play with better people and that’s going to allow him to develop even more in that system than he already has.”
“Because of the talent that’s around him, it is just going to make him better and that’s going to make them better.”
What does Veal see as his sharpest tools? His legs? Accuracy? Intermediate accuracy? Throws to the middle of the field?
“I think he’s a great leader of men and he does it not with a flare of cockiness but a flare of confidence,” Veal said. “He’s not afraid to lead.”
How does he assess the way Vandagriff delivers the ball?
“I think his accuracy is up there,” Veal said. “I think his intermediate game is sharp. I think his quick game is sharp and his deep ball, too. He throws a great deep ball, but his deep ball will get even better once he gets to Georgia because of the type of athletes there. So he’s able to put the ball in spots now where his guys are being efficient with it. That’s the catch-and-run and the run after the catch. That’s why he has so many yards because he’s throwing the ball to people that are catching it and being able to run after the catch. That will change at Georgia.”
Vandagriff will take deeper shots. Georgia’s receivers will allow him to reach more windows into deeper areas of the field. It will be more of a blend of vertical throws and yards after the catch.
Brock Vandagriff was named the 2020 “Mr. Georgia” by the Touchdown Club of Atlanta on Monday. (Jason Getz/AJC)
Building Brock Vandagriff: The process here
What goes into being a trainer for a guy like Vandagriff? Was Veal’s plan for him different than that of Fields or Lawrence?
“Well, the thing about these types of kids like him and well Justin and Trevor are that you are not taking them apart,” Veal said. “They are special athletes. You are just building on what they have if that makes sense. I’m just like a mechanic. If it is something little, so we fix it. If we see another something little, we fix it. We fix a lot of the little moving parts. We clean it up. Repeat the fix and go to the next little thing.”
“So it is almost like you’re just trying to keep them tuned up throughout the season. Throughout all the development. They have all the ability and that ability is something I can’t take credit for. Anybody can take credit for that, but I won’t. I think you just build on the little things that they do or might have problems with and keep going and going.”
The method there comes through his experience.
“Those types of athletes want to be coached and they want to be taught the position,” he said. “They want to learn and continue to learn. That’s what I think Brock did.”
Veal shared the opinion that Vandagriff’s mental toughness was the most important part of his game.
“He was fighting through two injuries, right, and he’s doing it at a high level,” Veal said of his 2020 season. “That’s what a lot of people don’t see. He’s not making excuses because he’s hurt and he’s still doing the job and he’s doing it at a very high level. I know a lot of kids who get hurt and they put an excuse on it. They say ‘I was hurt and I couldn’t do this and I couldn’t do that’ well this man has injuries. He was supposed to have surgery at the end of the season and he’s still doing it.”
There’s a point that must be made again here about his father. Greg Vandagriff is a noted coach around the state. Especially for his defensive prowess. He’s conducted countless sessions every year at national clinics about secondary play and coaching players on that side of the ball.
But Greg Vandagriff is the head coach and playcaller at Prince Avenue Christian. How does that sort of fatherly influence integrate into a successful teaching environment with Veal? The relationship between the father, a QB trainer, the offensive coordinator and the head coach has been simplified here.
“The word is trust,” Veal said. “He allows me to train his son. I don’t try to go across the line with his son because he is the head coach and he can teach him defense and he can teach him offense. I work especially on his drops, his sets and his throwing mechanics. I don’t go over reads so I can focus really on his fundamentals. That’s because of his Dad’s influence in his offense.”
“That’s versus another kid where I might have to go over this and go over that. I didn’t have to go over that because he was getting that at home.”
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That time Brock Vandagriff threw with Justin Fields
There was a session at Prince Avenue Christian that Fields attended. Vandagriff threw with him.
“The older that Brock got we would work at a certain time of the year and then he would get ready for football,” Veal said. “Because he ran track and all that stuff, too.”
What was that throwing session like?
“It was good,” Veal said. “He held his own with him. That was Justin’s freshman year at Georgia. He was just a year removed from high school so it wasn’t too much of a difference as far as ball velocity. Justin had just a tap more energy on the ball. But it was good. It wasn’t much different at all. Size-wise and speed wise.”
Veal offered two more telling thoughts. The first was about the biggest misconception some might have about young Vandagriff.
“In my opinion, I think they might see him as a cocky kid from the outside looking in but he’s not,” Veal said. “I think he’s just a humble young man that loves to play football. Loves to hunt. He loves to hang out with his friends and that’s that. That’s what I see with Brock.”
He’s seen Vandagriff throw with younger players at training sessions. There have been times where some eight or ninth grade receivers have been out there willing to run and catch for him and he’s fine with that. Other 5-star QBs might not have reacted the same way.
“He’s not out there saying that you don’t belong out here or you are only a junior varsity player or something like that,” Veal said.
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