The offseason is where championships are won and starting jobs are earned.
Rudy Carpenter knows that all too well. The former Arizona State quarterback threw for over 10,000 yards and 81 touchdowns with the Sun Devils. Along with former college and NFL coach Rod Dowhower, Carpenter is trying to pass along lessons to the next generations of quarterbacks and stress the importance of being a leader on and off the field.
“When I was playing, that was something I didn’t do very well,” Carpenter said. “I didn’t look the part, I didn’t dress the part, I didn’t act the part. When it came down to me getting a chance to play in the NFL, it really hurt me. That’s one thing I try to stress to these kids.”
The Coronado High School quarterbacks coach stressed these life lessons to an accomplished group. Recently, he worked with Boise State quarterback Ryan Finley, newly transferred Northern Arizona quarterback Connor Brewer, University of Miami gunslinger Brad Kaaya, and the University of Arizona’s Brandon Dawkins, as well as Brophy College Prep’s Cade Knox.
Carpenter and Dowhower bring a wealth of experience from two different viewpoints on the field. Along with his success at ASU, Carpenter had stints with the Dallas Cowboys, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Kansas City Chiefs. Dowhower has seen offenses progress over his 25 year coaching career at the collegiate and professional levels.
“Any time you can put these kids, whether it’s high school kids, young kids, or college kids, around someone like me who played in college and played in the NFL and someone like Coach Dowhower, who played in college and coached for a long time in the NFL., I think kids will just learn more,” Carpenter said.
“(Dowhower) might say something differently than I might say it, I might say something differently than he might say it….as long as the kids get the point, that’s all I care about.”
The quarterbacks are getting the point and working on more than just their arm strength.
“There are some raw talents with strong arms, but we look at them as throwers,” Dowhower said
The work they are putting in now is to ensure they are much more than “throwers”.
“They have so much knowledge,” Knox said. “They are teaching me everything out here. They see things I wasn’t even thinking about before. It really helps in the game, and having these other guys out here throwing with me as well is awesome.”
These training sessions focus on learning from guys who have been there before. As Knox is growing into one of the state’s top prep quarterbacks, he can look to Finley, who threw 68 touchdowns while at Paradise Valley High School. Now at the collegiate level, Finley is doing the same with Carpenter, who started in 43 consecutive games for the Sun Devils between 2005-2008.
“Rudy is a guy I really respect, and obviously, he played in the NFL so working with him has been really helpful for me,” Finley said. “He’s played in a pro-style system so the terminology that he talks with is helping me elevate my game as well.”
The young signal-callers are training, watching, listening, and absorbing from the coaching duo in hopes to get their games to the next level.
“The bottom line is if a young guy isn’t willing to learn and not willing to change, then he is not willing to progress,” Dowhower said.
These quarterbacks are learning, tweaking, and nitpicking their approaches and mechanics here in the offseason. It is only a matter of time before they are on the field, under the bright lights, and showing how far they’ve come.