Gage Shaffer had no other offers. He had very little contact with the Maryland coaching staff. That's why he was stunned when Terps football coach Randy Edsall offered the 6-foot-7 quarterback a full ride.
“It was pretty crazy,” Shaffer said. “I wasn’t expecting it at all.”
Shaffer -- a rising senior at Frankfort High School in Ridgeley, W.Va. -- attended a football camp at Maryland on Saturday morning. When camp ended, Edsall pulled him aside and told him the news. Shaffer didn’t hesitate. He accepted, joining Fort Hill running back Ty Johnson as the Terps’ most recent oral commits.
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He still has another year to try to lead Frankfort to a state title, but he’s thrilled about his future at College Park.
“I fit in when I was there, and I was comfortable,” Shaffer said. “Whenever I was talking with the Maryland players, they talked to me like I was one of the players already. I felt like I was part of the team.”
Shaffer is used to earning respect early. Frankfort coach Kevin Whiteman turned to Shaffer in search of a spark midway through the quarterback's freshman season.
Frankfort was down big and Whiteman called on Shaffer, hoping he would outperform the team’s upperclassman QBs. He excelled, and his high school career has skyrocketed since. He threw for more than 1,000 yards in both his sophomore and junior seasons and was an All-State selection both years.
“Once he got the feel for our system and what we were doing he rose above and beyond [the other quarterbacks],” Whiteman said.
Whiteman said Shaffer doesn’t get flustered when he makes a mistake. He always wants the ball back in his hands and is eager to convert the next play. His poise separates him from other quarterbacks, Whiteman said, but his main distinguishing characteristic is his size.
When Edsall called Whiteman on Saturday, the coach told him the first thing he noticed was Shaffer’s size. Edsall saw him from across the field right away.
“That’s the first thing that struck him, was how tall he was,” Whiteman said. “Then he started watching him throw the ball and was surprised at his strength and his accuracy.”
Whiteman said he didn’t expect Edsall to call. Nothing against Shaffer -- he simply had no idea Maryland was interested.
The camp started mid-morning. Edsall called Whiteman around 1 p.m. They talked, and Edsall told Whiteman he would call him back that night or the next morning.
“He called me back within probably two hours and said he was going to offer him a full ride,” Whiteman said.
Shaffer hopes to excel at Maryland just like he has at Frankfort. He knows his height is an asset. He uses it to gain leverage and see over the line, and he plans on carrying that unique skill set to the Terps in 2015.
“I’m really excited,” he said. “I’m really looking forward to playing for them.”