By: DeBartolo Sports Staff Writer
Will Kuehne isn't even in high school, but the young quarterback is already attracting national attention. This past December, he was invited to play in the National Underclassmen (NUC) All American Game in South Carolina, where he helped a team of southern players defeat their northern opponent. Now Kuehne is focusing on his next big game, for which he was named to yet another highly selective national team.
Last year, USA Football selected Kuehne for their U-15 National Team, which will face off against Canada at the 2015 International Bowl on January 31st at AT&T Stadium - Home of the Dallas Cowboys - in Arlington, Texas. The game is a collaboration of the sport’s national governing bodies in each country – USA Football and Football Canada – featuring top student-athletes in football’s greatest annual international competition.
Kuehne admits that "anybody would be nervous to go out there", but he's mostly excited about the chance to represent his country, show off his skills, and play his favorite sport.
To make the cut, Kuehne had to get through several rounds of weekend camps, showcases, and development games. He compares this process to spring training because every game and every camp is an opportunity to impress the coaches, and he always makes the most of it.
“Will has continually showcased tremendous skill on the field as well as character and leadership off the field befitting of a representative of the U.S. National Team,” said Garrett Shea, Senior Director, Sponsorship and National Teams at USA Football. He continues, “We are proud that he will represent the United States in the annual International Bowl.”
Kuehne is currently finishing his 8th grade year at Liberty Christian School in Argyle, Texas, where he counts his academic record as his greatest off-the-field accomplishment. "You can't play football if you're not doing well in the classroom," explains the A/B student, who already has his sights set on Oklahoma State or the University of Southern California. Of course, he'll have to contend with the world of high school football first.
Last year, he played with older age groups in the USA Football Developmental Games, giving him a glimpse of a higher level of competition. Recalling his experience with older players, Kuehne notes that "the game gets a lot faster" and his responsibilities increase as a result. He has to process information instantly, determine which defenses his opponents are running, and know where to place the ball. But instead of being intimidated, Kuehne relishes the opportunity to challenge himself as a quarterback.
In fact, one of his favorite things about the position is the ability to make big decisions for the team. It seems that Kuehne enjoys taking charge and strategizing in real life, too, particularly when it comes to his high school football career. Kuehne can already name the top contenders he'll need to replace or defeat after he starts high school next year, in order to fulfill his varsity dreams. His short-term plan is to land a starting position on the junior varsity (JV) team as a freshman, and he'd love to spend the following three years as a varsity quarterback.
During the off-season, Kuehne's main goal is to "try to get better" by practicing as much as possible and working on his game. He currently trains under Coach Joe Dickinson with DeBartolo Sports, a private academy that focuses on elite quarterback training. Kuehne prefers the hands-on approach of his DeBartolo coach, who will "tell you exactly what you're doing right and exactly what you're doing wrong".
So far, Dickinson has plenty of reasons to be proud of his star pupil. According to him, "Will has improved more than any quarterback that I have worked with over the last 18 months.” Dickinson continues, “He is an elite QB for his age group and I look forward to seeing how he continues to develop in the future.”
When he's not playing football, he's thinking about football, and he says that's been true since early childhood. He credits dad Trip, a former competitive golfer, with encouraging his love for the sport - and the Dallas Cowboys - from an early age. These days, they have season tickets and watch most home games from the 50-yard line.
Kuehne is on track to make a smooth transition into the world of JV and varsity football, but first he'll get to showcase his abilities on an international stage for the first time. Kuehne isn't worried about competing with players he's never met before. After all, they're "all there for the same reason": to win.