Do you think that's helped prepare you for the ups and downs of being in the spotlight as a college quarterback?
Absolutely. You have to take everything in stride. You can't overact at anything, otherwise you're living on a roller coaster. As a quarterback, you get all the praise and all of the blame. It can be a sack and it's not your fault, but it really is, because you have to shift the protections and if a guy gets beat, then you should have gotten rid of the ball. Really, emotionally, it's the quarterback's burden, and that's why I love it, because you have so much responsibility. That's why I play quarterback — because I want to have the ball in my hands every single play.
What's the last year been like for you? Your family has gone through a lot of transition with moving from Jacksonville to Denver.
This move was pretty hard. My dad got hired on a Friday, came home on Saturday and said we're moving on Sunday. Usually you would have a day or two to say your goodbyes. I had the opportunity to stay in Jacksonville, but I wanted to stay with my dad, so I moved up to Denver. I've taken a few trips back to Florida to see my friends, and they've been great, everybody's been welcoming. But it was a pretty tough year.
Your dad's a defensive guy. How'd you become a quarterback, anyway?
I've always been able to throw it better than average. I don't know. I was playing flag football and they we're like, “Try out for quarterback” and I was like, “OK” and I loved it. I got to touch the ball every play and throw bombs. Then in middle school — this was another underlying motivator — the coach gave me one chance to take a snap and I fumbled it, and he said, “You're not playing quarterback.” So I played defensive tackle. Freshman year (of high school), I played outside linebacker but I was the backup quarterback. Then sophomore year, I was like, “OK I really want to pursue this, I'm going to make varsity.” I made varsity, I was the backup quarterback, but I was stuck in a Wing-T system and didn't think I could really thrive, so I transferred to a spread system.
You recently became an Elite 11 finalist. What does that mean to you?
I chose the Columbus (regional) because I wanted to see where I stacked up against the best of the best. I thought that I was just as good, if not better, than all of them. Shane Morris has probably the strongest arm I've ever seen in a high schooler. Malik Zaire is incredible, Ryan Burns, those guys are great. I got the invite about a week after the Columbus Regional and I headed out to Oakland because I knew Max Browne, Cooper Bateman, all those guys were going to be out there. I thought I stacked up with those guys, too. I was like “OK I can do this.” It was a great confidence-booster, because I knew I could do it, but I wanted to know I could do it.
You were in Stillwater for last season's Bedlam win. What was that experience like?
I got there and I didn't really know what to expect. I had heard about T. Boone Pickens and how he's a phenomenal donator and alum. I saw the facilities and I was blown away. I've never seen facilities like those anywhere — NFL or college. I knew Coach Monken, obviously, and he was so welcoming. I got to see Travis, his son, and meet Coach Gundy. The atmosphere is what really sold me. I loved the feel of Stillwater. It's a smaller feel, but it's still a college town and you get that southern hospitality that I love. With that being said, the game itself, with them beating Oklahoma the way they did, it really sold me.
Did you rush the field?
Absolutely. I went down. I was like, “(The drop) isn't that bad” and my dad was like, “Take the stairs,” and I was, “OK, OK.”
How do you plan to approach the recruiting process between now and Signing Day, now that you've made your decision to commit to OSU?
A few schools have come in. I'm solid to Oklahoma State. I'm not changing my mind. There's nothing to make me change my mind that another school could say, because I know (OSU's) coaches, I know their intent, I know that they're honest. Oklahoma State is for me.