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Osweiler Makes History
Starts as true freshman, primed for next season
Brock Osweiler - photo courtesy of Arizona State University
On Nov. 14, Brock Osweiler started at quarterback for Arizona State University in front of one of the nation’s rowdiest crowds in a game televised on ESPN. On Nov. 22, he turned 19 years old.

In a 44-21 loss to Oregon, Osweiler, a former Flathead High School star, became the first true freshman to start at quarterback for ASU since Jake Plummer in 1993. Plummer later led the Sun Devils to the Rose Bowl and had a productive career in the National Football League.

Against Oregon, Osweiler was 5 of 10 for 14 yards and an interception before being sidelined with a shoulder injury in the second quarter. Sophomore Samson Szakacsy went 13 of 22 for 113 yards and a touchdown in Osweiler’s absence.

Osweiler’s injury was not serious and he was healthy enough to play this past weekend against UCLA, but did not start.

Russell McCarvel, the head football coach at Flathead High School, made the trip to Eugene to watch Osweiler, his former pupil. McCarvel said he keeps in regular touch with the quarterback through text messages and phone calls.

“It was a fantastic atmosphere to watch a guy go from playing high school in the state of Montana to starting on ESPN,” McCarvel said. “It’s a great tribute to his work ethic.”

He added: “It’s exciting for the Braves to look up on ESPN and see one of their own.”

As a senior for the Braves, Osweiler broke the school records for touchdown passes (29), total touchdowns (42) and total yards (3,463). He threw for 2,703 yards and rushed for 760. Osweiler finished his high school career with 9,765 total yards and 100 total touchdowns. He threw for 8,655 yards and 80 touchdowns.

Following his senior season, Osweiler was named the Montana Gatorade Player of the Year and garnered nationwide attention. He was recruited by a number of big-time colleges, including Florida State, Washington State and Stanford. He was also a prized basketball recruit who had initially committed to Gonzaga University before switching to football.

After committing to ASU, Osweiler graduated high school early to get a head start on spring ball down in Tempe. He was originally listed as sixth on the depth chart, but moved up after a couple of players left the team, including John Elway’s son Jack.

When the regular started, he was third, behind senior starter Danny Sullivan and Szakacsy. A nagging elbow injury limited Szakacsy and Osweiler found himself in the backup position, less than a year after finishing up his high school career in Montana.

In the first game of the season, Osweiler came off the bench against Idaho State and threw for 43 yards and a touchdown on 4 of 5 passing. Against Louisiana-Monroe, Washington State and Stanford, Osweiler saw limited action. But the cries from fans and local blogs for him to start grew louder as the season wore on.

Then on Nov. 7, Sullivan hurt his bicep against USC and left the game. Osweiler came in to play the second half and nearly led the Sun Devils to a come-from-behind upset over the Trojans. Osweiler was 11 of 27 for 153 yards with a touchdown and interception in the 14-9 loss.

With Sullivan still recovering from his bicep injury, the stage was set for Osweiler to start against Oregon. The Ducks sent a variety of blitz packages at the true freshman, hitting him frequently and rushing his passes. Then, on a second-quarter scramble, Osweiler went down hard and exited the game clutching his left shoulder. His injury is considered minor and shouldn’t bother him moving forward.

With one game remaining for ASU, which is 4-7 (2-6 in the conference), Osweiler most likely won’t start again this season. The Sun Devils play Arizona at home at 1:30 p.m. on Nov. 28 on ABC.

But he has positioned himself well to battle for the starting spot next year against Szakacsy and Michigan transfer Steven Threet. Szakacsy and Threet will be juniors and Osweiler will be a sophomore.

“His progress has been unbelievable,” McCarvel said. “What’s not surprising is his maturity, because he’s had that all along.”
 
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