EDMOND — One of the biggest things that stand out about Joel Blumenthal's improvement since the end of last football season is his arm strength.
It's not that the Deer Creek quarterback didn't flash a solid arm last year, when he threw for nearly 2,000 yards.
Blumenthal spent much of the offseason traveling to different camps and events around the country, playing alongside some of the top quarterbacks in the nation, including Oklahoma State commit Luke del Rio.
While Blumenthal left the events believing he fit in among that group, he also came away with things to work on.
The biggest was the strength behind his throws.
“I saw guys that could just zip it,” Blumenthal said. “That's one of the things Trent Dilfer said when I heard him speak, that he loved guys who could just put a lot of zip in the ball.”
But, Dilfer told him, the key to that is as much in the lower body as it is in the pure strength of the arm.
So when Blumenthal returned home, he went to work.
He wanted to strengthen his arm, work on his throwing mechanics and use his lower body in a more efficient way.
Blumenthal credits former Edmond Santa Fe quarterbacks coach Roger Pfeiffer, who also works with Wolves quarterback Justice Hansen.
“He really focused on using my hips to get more into my throws,” Blumenthal said. “Last year, my mechanics were just a little bit off. Now, I've gotten a ton stronger than I was, but the mechanics are also so much better.”
Deer Creek coach Grant Gower has seen the progress.
“He's really had a great offseason,” Gower said. “He worked in the spring, in the weight room, he's gotten quicker.”
While Blumenthal hopes the adjustments lead to a Division I offer — he hasn't received one yet but is being heavily recruited by New Mexico, TCU and Texas-San Antonio — he also wants to make up for the way last season ended.
The Antlers started 8-1 last year before dropping their final three games.
“We started off strong and just lost our focus,” Blumenthal said. “I learned how to keep my composure. I can go back to those games now and know the things that I could have done different and know what I can do if those things come up again.”
And that realization has Blumenthal and Deer Creek, with most of its offensive weapons back, thinking big things.
“It's on us,” Blumenthal said. “We can be as good as we want to be. We've got to be focused throughout the season, but if we do that, we could go as far as the state championship game.
“We have the talent that can beat anybody.”
Campaign slogan: The time is right
Deer Creek quarterback Joel Blumenthal put up solid numbers last year — throwing for more than 1,900 yards and 20 touchdowns while throwing just five interceptions. This season, though, Blumenthal feels even better about his game. The Antlers return most of their skill-position players and Blumenthal's improved arm strength, mostly stemming from some mechanical adjustments, have him poised for a big senior year.
Endorsements for Joel Blumenthal
Hunter Dinkines, former Deer Creek WR and current SWOSU freshman: “Joel's a great dual-threat quarterback. He's not afraid to hit you over the top with a deep ball as well as run the ball. He's a good leader that takes command of his team when he needs to. I wish him and the Antlers the best of luck.”
Brennan Miyake, Deer Creek RB: “He has tremendous leadership on and off the field and the work he puts in during the offseason has really developed into a very well-rounded quarterback. He's always been able to scramble well but this year I think the development of his arm along with his great understanding of our offense is allowing him to really pick apart defenses. He always knows who to get the ball to and has spread it around well, making it tough for teams to try and double cover or load the box. Overall he's just a fantastic leader and a composed guy under pressure and he's going to always do what needs to be done to get the ball in the end zone.”
Rafe Watkins, Guthrie coach: “Last year, we put pressure on him like we do every quarterback, and he did a good job against us. We made him get rid of the ball quick, but he stayed poised in the pocket. He throws a great ball and keeps his composure. Talking to Grant Gower, it sounds like he's a great leader for them. We know he's a great player we're going to have to face down the line.”