Talented 2022 Quarterback Developing Bond With Tommy Rees
With COVID-19 putting campus visits on pause for the foreseeable future, the Notre Dame coaching staff continues to evaluate quarterbacks in the 2022 class in an unconventional way.
In years past, the staff would have already held their summer camp and evaluated several of their targets in person, but every coaching staff across the country has had to adjust. It looks like offensive coordinator Tommy Rees and the offensive staff could be close to offering a few of their top targets at the position.
Insert four-star Cade Klubnik.
The Austin (Texas) Westlake quarterback has been on the staff's radar for some time, and he has seen his recruitment take off since the start of the new year. He received his first FBS offer from Baylor back in January, and he now holds fourteen offers. LSU, Auburn, TCU, Virginia Tech, Nebraska, Ole Miss, Miami, NC State, Arkansas, Arizona State, Washington State, SMU and Texas State have all entered the mix for the 6-2, 185-pound rising junior.
The COVID-19 pandemic has made recruitment, Klubnik’s experience has been different than many kids before him in what has become the new norm for 2021 and 2022 prospects. He is really excited to get back to normal and visit campuses and interact with coaches face to face.
“It has been a lot of phone calls,” he admitted. “I was going to start taking visits in the spring and summer, and then COVID-19 hit. So it has been a lot of phone calls and a lot of Facetime and Zoom calls. That has been pretty much been the whole process for me. Colleges want to see you in person before they offer you. That is kind of just a base thing for almost every school. The programs I’ve really seen and have been able to put myself and in front of them, they have been the ones to step ahead and offer me.”
“It has been really, really fun,” he continued. “The process hasn’t been that fast, but it has definitely sped up over the last several months. My dream my whole life has been to play college football, so it really is a dream come true. To be able to say I have a call with this school or that school, I’m just like wow. I mean, I’m calling Notre Dame or LSU and it is just crazy. A year ago, I would have been asking myself what is going on, there is no way. I’ve just been enjoying it and I’ve been working very hard to prove them all right.”
COVID-19 has affected high school players in different ways. Spring ball is an important part of high school football, much like in college and it was cancelled. As a freshman going into his sophomore season, Klubnik recalled how much of the offense he was able to learn during the spring. It has also put his recruitment on pause to an extent, because campus visits will be a big factor in his decision making process.
“We didn’t get to have spring ball, obviously, so that really hurt,” he explained. “Last year, I learned 75% of the offense during the spring. That is when I learned everything, and wired it all into my brain. Then fall came and we just put that remaining 25% in and perfected everything. We are adjusting. Us as a team, we have zoom calls three to four times a week learning the offense, and our coaches did a really good job of getting our spring ball in without having to actually see each other.”
“With recruiting, like I said, I didn’t get to see or talk to any coaches in person,” he continued. “That has made it hard. For a coach, you want to be able to talk to the kid you are offering in person, and as a player you want to be able to talk to the coach to gauge what kind of person he is.”
While Notre Dame has yet to offer the nation’s No. 9 Pro-Style quarterback (247Sports), Coach Rees and Klubnik have kept in close contact over the last several months and along with Florida State and Texas A&M, Notre Dame is a school he feels prioritized by even without an offer.
“Out of the schools that haven’t offered, I talk with Florida State, Notre Dame and Texas A&M,” he told Irish Breakdown. “Those are the schools that I have spoken with the most.”
“I’ve only spoken with Coach Rees,” he said of his contact with Notre Dame. “I actually was able to talk with him a few days ago again. I’ve called him about 5-6 times now, and we had a zoom call as well the other day. Our conversations have been good. I’m just building a relationship. I think he has learned a lot about me, and I’ve learned a lot about him as well. He’s been quizzing me a lot on zoom calls since we can’t see each other in person yet, because he understands how smart quarterbacks have to be. He wants to see how fast I can learn the offense and stuff. It has become a good relationship, and it has been fun. I am actually supposed to call him again this week. We haven’t talked about an offer yet, but he has said he really likes me.”
Being from Texas and with a lot of offers from in-state programs already, some might assume staying close to home would be preferred or the easy decision, but Klubnik isn’t worried about distance in choosing a college. He wants to find a place where he feels wanted and has a good relationship with the coaches.
“I don’t care about staying in Texas to be honest,” he mentioned. “I would go wherever. It really just depends on the school. I don’t really care where it is.”
“Recruiting is definitely a business in some ways,” continued Klubnik. “Coaches have to be good salesmen, but I want to go to a place that really wants me and I’m not just another fish in the sea. I am really excited to go see different places in the fall and really get to talk with the coaches. I can usually tell what programs have high interest in me. As a 2022 kid, coaches can’t contact me, so how often they want me to call them says a lot. That shows me they are more interested. It is just kind of one of the little things I pay attention to. With that said, it has been a lot of fun and I’ve been able to develop some really good relationships with coaches throughout this whole process.”
The four-star rising junior and No. 241 overall player in the country resembles the modern day quarterback in many ways, and actually in watching his film prior to speaking with him, he reminded of a more advanced high school version of current Notre Dame quarterback Ian Book. Klubnik describes himself as a pocket passer that can also make plays with his legs when he needs to. He prides himself on being a passer above all else and someone that throws with accuracy and great ball placement.
“I love being able to step on the field and play freely,” he said. “I have good accuracy. I can put the ball in tight windows, and put the ball in spots where the defensive back can’t get it. That is actually a huge emphasis for me. I want to put the ball where the defensive back can’t make a play on it, no matter how small the window is. And then, I can move around. I’m mobile. If I escape the pocket, I can run from faster defenders, but I am not looking to run first. I’m still keeping my eyes down the field. I have a little speed that will help me.”
As for a commitment timeline, like most quarterbacks he doesn’t plan on dragging out his recruitment into his senior season. He wants to make sure he can visit campuses this fall and next spring possibly as well, but an early 2021 timeline is what to expect for a college decision.
“I would say sometime between January and April of next year,” he said. “I have taken one visit to a school that has offered me, and that was Baylor before they actually offered me. I really want to get out there and see schools and talk to coaches before I make a final decision.”
As a junior next season, Klubnik will look to take full control of the offense and be the primary quarterback for Westlake High School. During his sophomore season, he rotated a lot and then had his season cut short due to injury. However, when he was on the field he completed 77% of his passes and he stated the team scored on 75% of his possessions.
In a limited sample size, it is easy to see why he has major Division 1 interest, and Notre Dame has not been shy in the past when it comes to pursuing quarterback prospects with limited high school film. Don’t be surprised if Klubnik is the first 2022 quarterback offer for the Irish.
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