By DeBartolo Sports Staff Writer
JACKSONVILLE - With two years of experience, and 17 varsity starts, DeBiase is now a veteran quarterback and has high hopes for his junior year.
Back to the beginning
When he was still very young, it was watching Brett Favre and Tom Brady control a game that made Floridian Augie DeBiase first decide he would like to be a quarterback. He clearly remembers playing with a football as a six-year-old, and that feeling of wearing pads for the first time in sixth grade.
He’s much bigger now, a commanding 6'2" and 215 lbs, but Augie still rates watching these great heroes as one of the best ways to learn.
Ask him what excites him about the game and his enthusiasm shines through, even when simply talking about that moment “when the lights come on and it’s time to play”. DeBiase also comes up with an intriguing thought about one of the main challenges when playing QB. He explains that it’s about retaining only short-term memories, not allowing your head to be filled with all the conflicting messages from coaches and team mates. He aims to stay calm and relaxed even during the most intense game situations.
A developing career
When Augie saw his great buddy Grady Sullivan play in the East-Bay All-American national all-star game for youth footballers in 2010, he set himself a goal: to play in the same game the following year (Grady was a year ahead in school). Augie had already spent hundreds of hours training with nationally respected QB coach Joe Dickinson. So, when the letter arrived on his 15th birthday, he knew he was ready to go. Even back then, Coach D (as so many respectfully call him) was positive about his potential: “He will be a household name in the future”. Augie’s family are equally excited by his progress and enthusiastically credit Joe with being so much more to their son, and their family, than just his QB coach.
Go back a couple of years or so. Mark DeBiase and his young teenage son were watching TV and saw the news that 13-year-old quarterback phenom David Sills (also a QB product of Joe Dickinson) had verbally committed to the University of Southern California. Father told son that he could do that. A phone call to Joe Dickinson followed and all the hard work truly began. An initial analysis confirmed a real, but very raw, talent. As his watching dad put it, the next few months of relentless effort saw: “Augie transform from a kid who wanted to play quarterback to one that was playing quarterback”.
Into the future
Augie is level-headed and realistic as he looks forward to the coming season, one where he already has a couple of scholarship offers from Indiana and Virginia Tech, and is being recruited by several of the nation’s top football programs. He is working hard, for example, to try and stay in the pocket for that key extra second. He is also trying to build on what he knows to be a strength, and that is his ability to scramble and make a difference in broken play situations.
Having made his first varsity start as a freshman, he remembers the speed of his first game at that level, being faster than anything he had encountered to that moment. He says it was a wake-up call “with these missiles flying by me”. Fast forward to today, and after spending his summer training with Joe Dickinson, attending several college camps and showcase events, he is now setting out on his junior year.
Says Coach Dickinson on DeBiase’s preparation for the upcoming season, “Augie has trained hard both physically and mentally to get ready for his junior season at Fletcher.” He continues, “Anything short of championships for the team and big things from him personally would be a surprise and a disappointment.”
When asked about his goals and expectations for the season, DeBiase is just thrilled about the chance to play against the top teams and athletes in the state and test himself at this higher level. He’s equally excited about the quality of the D1 players who’ll be around him, including recent University of Florida commit Kalif Jackson.
It’s challenging to predict how the season will unfold, but with all the work and preparation, it’s hard not to be optimistic.