Paradise Valley High School and “really, really, ridiculously good quarterback” are basically synonymous.
The last two signal callers for the Trojans have been Ryan Finley, who threw 68 touchdowns in his high school career and is currently at Louisville, and Daniel Bridge-Gadd, who had a record-setting career with 138 touchdowns of his own and is already up in Seattle competing for a starting job with the Washington Huskies.
Big shoes to fill right?
Bric Hudnutt would like to take them for a spin.
The senior learned under Bridge-Gadd on the way to PV’s run to the state title game last year and is the heir apparent to the starting job in 2016.
“Daniel taught me a lot,” Hudnutt said. “He’s got a tight spiral on his ball. He taught me where to put my arm, arm placement, finding my receivers, being able to read the defense, big shoes to fill but I think I’m ready.”
Stylistically, Hudnutt and Bridg-Gadd couldn’t be more different. DBG was as much of a threat to air it out as he was to tuck and run, picking up yards chunks at a time, whether that be by design or improvisation.
— Daniel Bridge-Gadd (@Pvqb10) February 3, 2016
As for Hudnutt, he isn’t as fleet of foot. He is a self-described pocket-passer, but he thinks he can grab some yards here and there by running the ball.
“Well he definitely feels like he can run, although we feel he needs to stay in the pocket and throw the ball a little bit,” Davis laughed.
“You always like a guy who is confident in his skill set, but making sure he knows where he fits in is definitely something that we try to tell him. He has a rocket arm, he can throw the heck out of the ball, and we’re excited about that.”
The Trojans lost 75% of their receiving yards from last year, but Hudnutt has a few weapons he can work with to keep Paradise Valley’s offense explosive: running back Jared Beamon and wide receiver Xavier Watkins, who has been tabbed by Coach Davis as a player to watch.
The new regime may have some lofty expectations based on the offense’s past performances, but Coach Davis has stressed this is a different team, and while trying to imitate those past offenses may be flattering, it won’t be effective. He wants his offense, specifically his quarterback, to be…well…himself.
“Daniel Bridge-Gadd was not Ryan Finley, and the fact that he recognized that made him a better player,” Davis said. “Bric is not going to be Daniel Bridge-Gadd, and he knows that. But expectations for himself and knowing that I don’t expect him to be Daniel I think is a huge deal, makes him feel comfortable with his skill set and what he can do, and doesn’t push him to be something he’s not.”