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'Frustrated' Sabelhaus leaves West Virginia Coach Nehlen says QB is 'broken as you can get'

Bobby Sabelhaus, one of the most highly touted football players in Maryland high school history, is without a team -- again.

Sabelhaus, a redshirt sophomore quarterback, quit the WestVirginia football team last Friday, the third day of practice and less than six months after committing to the school. It was the third school in a span of a year for Sabelhaus, who left Florida in August 1996 and then enrolled at Pierce Junior College in Los Angeles.

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A school official called it a "mutual decision" between Sabelhaus and West Virginia coach Don Nehlen. Sabelhaus has returned home but could not be reached for comment last night.

"He was frustrated," Nehlen said to the Morgantown Dominion Post. "He felt he was going to be about No. 6 on the depth chart. He said to me, 'Coach, I'm so embarrassed.'

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"He said to me, 'You know, Coach, every time I pick up the newspaper it says I'm going to be the greatest quarterback in America.' He never asked for that. You guys don't understand how much pain he has had. That guy's about as broken as you can get."

Sabelhaus, 6 feet 5 and 225 pounds, chose West Virginia over Alabama in February because it presented the better opportunity to start. The Mountaineers lost last year's starter, Chad Johnston, and the only scholarship quarterbacks left are two sophomores.

However, Sabelhaus' sidearm passing motion became a major problem, causing numerous inaccurate passes. Nehlen even grabbed Sabelhaus after the first day of practice and ordered him to perform drills that would make him throw overhand.

"He's the nicest kid you'll ever meet," Nehlen said. "What a quarterback he would have been from a leadership standpoint if he could only have thrown the ball."

In 1994 at McDonogh, he set the state high school record for career yardage and completions and was rated the top quarterback in the country by SuperPrep Magazine. Sabelhaus, a two-time All-Metro selection, also was named an All-American by USA Today, Parade and Bluechip Illustrated.

He went to Florida on a scholarship, but redshirted the 1995 season. After throwing two interceptions in a spring practice game in 1996, Sabelhaus was dropped to fourth on the depth chart.

At that time, Florida coach Steve Spurrier told him there were problems with his throwing motion. Sabelhaus then returned to Baltimore that summer and later asked the Gators for his release.

Sabelhaus enrolled at Los Angeles Pierce Junior College in the fall of 1996, but did not play football. He earned an associate degree at the college to become eligible to play for a I-A program this fall.

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Pub Date: 8/15/97


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