USC Werner

New USC Coach Dan Werner has a reputation of being a strong evaluator of quarterbacks.

VIA GAMECOCKCENTRAL.COM

Dan Werner won a national title with Alabama on Monday and started his new job as South Carolina's quarterbacks coach on Wednesday.

Werner will not only provide a veteran sounding board for first-year play-caller Bryan McClendon, he'll also be tasked with continuing to develop quarterback Jake Bentley and obviously recruiting the position for the Gamecocks.

What will Werner look for when scouting and recruiting quarterbacks to South Carolina?

An offensive analyst in Tuscaloosa and former co-offensive coordinator at Ole Miss, Werner has not yet met with the South Carolina media, but with more than 30 years of experience, his track record with the position should give some early insight into what to expect.

Originally a traditional pro-style practitioner, Werner was known for his offenses at Miami -- led by drop-back passers like Ken Dorsey and Brock Berlin.

But Werner saw his approach to the position change during his stint with Hugh Freeze from 2012-16 at Ole Miss as the spread offense took over college football and the Rebels ripped through defenses with an emphasis on the run-pass option and a fast tempo.

Werner's roots in the drop-back passing game are still evident. Speaking in 2013, he said his quarterbacks still have to make all the throws, but he recognized a need for the ability to move within the pocket, extend plays and force the defense to account for the quarterback with an extra defender.

"Old-school thinking was that we never wanted our quarterback getting touched. But now, I just think that to even the odds up, he has to be in the process somewhere, whether it’s running or throwing more," Werner said in 2013, according to this SBNation article.

"I think I was hard-headed for a long time, thinking it wasn’t my style or whatever. Teams used to play base defenses, and it wasn't an issue. But the more you kept running into an extra defender, coaches just got sick of it. And so now people are starting to realize you have to recruit the right type of guy for that position."

A look at Werner's Ole Miss quarterbacks may give some idea of what to expect in Columbia.

Werner developed quarterbacks Bo Wallace and Chad Kelly to huge college careers -- both fit the mold of quarterbacks who are passers but also have the athleticism to make defenses account for the run.

Werner was also credited with signing former five-star quarterback Shea Patterson, who transferred to Michigan this offseason. Patterson was considered the No. 3 dual-threat quarterback in his class by Rivals.com.

"I had a great relationship with coach Dan Werner," Patterson said at the time of his commitment. "I talked to him day in and day out. He basically lived in our coaches' office. They expressed how much they wanted me. There's no doubt in my mind that I was their guy."

Werner said in that same 2013 article that he uses his history developing quarterbacks as a selling point on the recruiting trail. He wants his pupils to be put in a position to succeed with cutting-edge college schemes while also learning what they'll need for the next level where the drop-back, multiple-read throw game is still a necessity.

"They still have to learn all their protections and reads," Werner said. "That's a big selling point to our quarterbacks now is, 'Hey, we're going to teach you the pro-style schemes, the drop-backs and reads, with an addition to what the pro-style is going towards.'"

With a new coach, the board can surely shuffle, but South Carolina already has four known offers out to quarterbacks in the 2019 class:

  • Monroe (N.C.) Sun Valley four-star Sam Howell
  • Charlotte (N.C.) Charlotte Christian three-star Garrett Shrader
  • Orange (Calif.) Lutheran three-star Ryan Hilinski
  • Monument (Colorado) Palmer Ridge three-star Ty Evans

The Gamecocks also have offers out to two 2020 quarterbacks: Watkinsville (Ga.) Oconee County pro-style QB Max Johnson and Myrtle Beach dual-threat QB Luke Doty.

Werner is no doubt familiar with Shrader, who also has an Alabama offer.

With coaches set to go on the road for recruiting purposes again Friday and the 2019 recruiting cycle sped up due to the early signing period, one of Werner's first orders of business in Columbia will likely be to start setting his recruiting board for 2019.

“Werner had a reputation in Oxford as being a strong evaluator of quarterbacks, something that will likely serve him and Alabama well,” RebelGrove.com's Neal McCready told the Tuscaloosa News when Werner was hired by Alabama last offseason. “His presence was one of the key factors in Ole Miss’ landing of both Kelly and Shea Patterson.”

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