- Christopher Lawlor, High School Basketball
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Tate Forcier might have the smoothest release of any high school quarterback when he delivers the ball effortlessly to his receivers.
But, if you think that's special, check out his approach to recruiting.
With 30 college offers already in the bag, Forcier is running a slick campaign. He doesn't mince words, instead backs them up with facts.
"I spoke with a number of recruits who claimed they had all these college offers, but when I spoke with the college coaches at those schools, they hadn't offered yet," said Forcier, a home-schooled senior who plays for Scripps Ranch High in San Diego. "So I decided to do something different."
Using the power of the internet, Forcier (6-foot-1, 190 pounds) posted the letters of each school that has offered an athletic scholarship.
He won't tip his hand on the schools he's favoring, but realizes he'll need to pare down the list of suitors to 10 by summertime and make a selection before Scripps Ranch enters the CIF San Diego Section playoffs in November. Forcier will graduate early, enrolling at a college in January.
"The Web site promotes San Diego County football," Forcier said. "I hope more college coaches look at players here."
What's in a name?
His mother still calls him Robert, but his father dubbed him Tate.
"Everyone else knows me as Tate," Tate Forcier said.
Mike Forcier nicknamed the youngest of his three sons, Robert, after the main character in the 1991 movie "Little Man Tate."
"He (my dad) thought I was a street smart as a kid; a little ahead of my time," Tate said.
The movie tells the story of a gifted 7-year-old intellectual prodigy.
Tate Forcier, a highly-rated junior quarterback from Scripps Ranch High in San Diego, known for his football acumen, even embraces the movie's tagline: It's not what he knows. It's what he understands.
Forcier, has thrown for 4,024 yards and 38 touchdowns and rushed for 1,266 yards and 12 TDs, averaging 9.1 yards per carry in two seasons.
-- Christopher Lawlor
Here are snippets of the letters:
Auburn: "Our staff believes you have the ability necessary to be an outstanding quarterback. Quarterbacks are a high priority for our 2009 recruiting class.
Clemson: "We have targeted you early because we are impressed with you as a person and with your academic and athletic ability.
LSU: "My goal is for every member of our team to leave LSU with a degree of his choice, as well as SEC and National Championships."
Penn State: "Our goal is to win National Championships but not at the expense of education."
Washington: "The mission of the football team is to become an outstanding student, person and athlete."
Recruiting and fancy pitch lines are familiar in the Forcier household. Tate's older brothers Jason (a redshirt junior at Stanford) and Chris (redshirt freshman at UCLA) are quarterbacks at Pac-10 schools.
Tate is the latest in line of a talented brother trio.
"Anytime my brothers watch me play, they offer advice," Tate Forcier said. "Last year Jason pulled me aside at halftime of a game and told me what to look for. Hey, I'll do the same (offer advice) for them."
Mike Forcier offers an assessment of his sons.
"Jason and Tate are alike, they're intense," Mike Forcier said. "Jason was more mature at the same age, but Tate has more finesse with the ability to make you miss.
"Chris is the most physically gifted; he finds ways to win."
Tate Forcier also finds ways to win, whether it's confounding a defense with his powerful right arm or deciphering when it's time to break the pocket.
As a junior, Forcier guided Scripps Ranch to the Division II section quarterfinals. He passed for 2,387 yards and 21 touchdowns on 164 of 213 accuracy (77 percent).
"I didn't know him when he was younger, but he was born and bred to be a quarterback," Scripps Ranch coach Sergio Diaz said. "He's embraced the position of quarterback from Day 1."
To wit, Forcier's finest effort in 2007, where he accounted for all four touchdowns, came in a 28-3 victory over Grossmont (El Cajon) in the first round of the playoffs.
Forcier rushed for scores of 35, 13 and 45 yards and passed for a fourth one. Scripps Ranch trailed 3-0 in the opening half when Forcier ran 35 yards untouched off a quarterback draw. Other than that play, the Falcons were limited to 38 yards and two first downs.
"They dropped six deep in coverage. All I did was read the (defensive) end and run out of the veer," said Forcier about his touchdown run.
The Falcons return eight starters off that team, but need to rebuild their offensive line. Forcier will be teamed with tight end J.T. Kerr (a transfer from Fallbrook) and running back Brennan Clay, both considered blue-chip recruits.
Clay has already developed chemistry with Forcier. When the play breaks down the two are on the same wavelength.
"Tate will give me a smirk or the eye when I'm getting the ball," said Clay, a speedy 6-foot, 182-pound sophomore. "I've got the back side (of the field) covered; I'm the safety valve on those plays.
Kerr, a 6-foot-4, 235-pound junior, who is receiving interest from Arizona, Wisconsin, Michigan State and Texas A&M said, "Tate doesn't mess around in workouts; he's self-driven."
Workouts with teammates pale in comparison to sessions with Forcier's personal trainer.
For nearly a decade, Forcier has trained with sports performance guru Marv Marinovich of Sports Lab in San Juan Capistrano, Calif. Marinovich's training scientific methods stress speed with a heavy emphasis on plyometrics and isometrics exercises.
"We train athletes by stimulating their nervous system; it's not your traditional approach," Marinovich said.
That explains Forcier's quick footwork and escapability in the throes of a heavy pass rush because his reaction time is razor sharp.
The scientific approach impacts power, speed and quickness, qualities
Marinovich saw early on with his pupil.
"Tate is very competitive," Marinovich said. "At the gym, he'd challenge the older kids to one-on-one basketball, a game of horse, or whatever.
"I have to stay on my toes around him. Tate gets bored and likes to be challenged on a daily basis. To keep him interested you have to raise the bar and push the envelope."
Forcier's favorable evaluation from ESPN's Scouts Inc. says he's a savvy prospect and finds ways to overcome his lack of height:
"We would describe him as a passer who can run the spread and read-option with ease," according to ESPN's Scouts Inc. "Mechanically he is similar to Jeff Garcia (of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers) -- just a riverboat gambler who finds ways to get the job done... Is good at buying a second look with his feet and is capable of running to pick up the first down. Will break containment often and is capable of throwing the ball on the run with very good accuracy.
"Size limits his vision if he is not on time with his reads and forces him to scramble even if he doesn't need to. As a result, he is in the shotgun a lot so he can get back and see the entire field. Has ideal skills for this offense; has a quick release with great accuracy and does an outstanding job of making pre-snap reads... He shows intangibles and good anticipation for the passing game but needs to be in the right scheme to be at his best."
Forcier resumes training Monday after missing five weeks following an appendectomy in late March. Scripps Ranch starts spring practice on May 19 for a three-week run (or a maximum of 15 practices).
Marinovich, whose son Todd quarterbacked the USC Trojans nearly two decades ago, gives this assessment.
"Tate springs off his feet. He bounds from side-to-side to avoid the rush and then accelerates. His peripheral vision is key allowing him stay focused and scan downfield. But really, his mental attitude toward the position along with quick feet and hand-eye coordination blended together is ridiculous."
Christopher Lawlor has covered high school sports for more than 20 years, most recently with USA Today, where he was the head preps writer responsible for national high school rankings in football, baseball and boys and girls basketball. He also for worked for Scholastic Coach magazine, where he ran the Gatorade national player of the year program for nine years. Lawlor, a New Jersey resident, grew up in Rochester, N.Y., and is a graduate of St. Bonaventure University.
He has two older brothers already in the Pac-10 and a famous personal trainer, but Scripps Ranch (San Diego) QB Tate Forcier has a recruiting strategy all his own, writes Christopher Lawlor.