Tuesday, December 22, 1998
Tale of Two QBs
Washington's Brock HuardBy Pat Bigold
gained maturity by staying one
more year in college
BROCK Huard took a seat on the warm aluminum bleachers at Iolani School after practice yesterday and heard a familiar question.
Why he didn't declare for the NFL draft after his brilliant sophomore season with the Washington Huskies?
"I wasn't mature enough," he said in his bass voice.
Olin Kreutz, his former center (now with the Chicago Bears), laughed when he heard a reporter relate that to him on the phone yesterday.
"Heck, Brock was mature when he was a freshman," said the St. Louis School product who snapped to Huard for two seasons.
But the 6-foot-5, 225-pound junior, who will face No. 16 Air Force on Christmas Day in the Jeep Oahu Bowl, insists he just wouldn't have been ready.
Part of his reasoning is that he was spoiled by his 1997 supporting cast.
"For two years, I was surrounded by some great talent -- 10 of our guys were taken in the NFL draft," he said. "To have gone out last year I wouldn't have been able to deal with the adversity at the NFL level. You see how mature Peyton Manning was this year, and how he'd been through all the ups and downs; winning big games, losing tough games, having pressure and expectations."
But Huard, who in the coming year will graduate, turn 23 and marry Washington basketball player Molly Hills, said he believes the time has come to move on. He said being the field general for a youth-laden 6-5 team has provided him with valuable experience in bucking the odds.
"In this position, you need to be mentally tough and keep fighting," he said. "That's what it's been for me this year: a fight and a struggle."
Scouting reports on Huard say he is the classic dropback passer. That he has strong velocity on his passes and good touch. That he is able to adjust the speed of the ball according to the throw, a coveted quality in a quarterback.
A southpaw, he owns 20 Washington passing and offensive records, including career yardage (5,742) and career touchdown passes (51).
His older brother, Damon, a backup quarterback to Dan Marino on the Miami Dolphins' roster, held the previous Huskies' career yardage record of 5,692.
Huard's sophomore season catapulted him to national attention. He passed for 2,140 yards and 23 touchdowns, finishing the year with a 51-23 Aloha Bowl victory over Michigan State in which he threw two touchdown passes. The Huskies were 8-4.
But graduation robbed Huard and Washington of their top two receivers, top two tight ends, top rusher and fullback.
Accordingly, his stats have fallen off last year's pace and his stock in the 1999 NFL draft might have fallen as well.
This year, he has thrown for 1,924 yards and 15 touchdowns. He's broken career school records, but the Huskies are unranked.
Having Damon (second year) with the Dolphins helps crystallize Brock's view of what life is like for an NFL newcomer.
"Damon's always been the trailblazer in the family," said Brock, whose younger brother, Luke, is a redshirt freshman at North Carolina.
"Obviously, up there it's a business. Either you produce and you keep making it and playing or you're out. That's the way the NFL is. It's about production and being a professional."
Huard said he believes coach Jim Lambright's Huskies are as close as you can get to the expectations and pressure associated with an NFL team.
"You deal with some issues here that are ultimately going to help you down the road. That's why the last nine or 10 Huskies quarterbacks have had a real shot in the NFL."
Huard said he's aware that his future is complicated by the fact that the upcoming NFL draft is rich with quarterbacks. Names such as Tim Couch (Kentucky), Daunte Culpepper (Central Florida), Donovan McNabb (Syracuse), Cade McNown (UCLA), Michael Bishop (Kansas State) and Akili Smith (Oregon) represent some of Huard's competition.
But Huard said he's not worried about being passed over in the first round of the draft. He said the money is not important to him.
"I know it's a real rich class, and I won't tell you this guy can't do this or that guy can't do that," said Huard. "This position is about making plays. Trent Dilfer, Drew Bledsoe, Vinny Testaverde, Peyton Manning are pocket passers and they make plays. The Doug Fluties and Steve Youngs who are outside-the-pocket guys make plays. The bottom line is you make plays."
Who does Huard most identify with in the NFL?
"Troy Aikman because of his size, release and emotion," said Huard. "He has a poker face out there and doesn't play with external emotion. I'd like get to be a guy like that -- someone who delivers on great timing with great accuracy."
Kreutz, a who came out as a junior, knows that there's adversity for an NFL rookie. He spent much of the current season sitting and watching.
Informed that an internet projection on the 1999 draft has Huard going seventh overall to the punchless Bears, Kreutz laughed again.
"That's probably Brock's greatest fear."
See also: Notebook