Maryland coach Randy Edsall got his first extensive look at Gage Shaffer during a football camp at Maryland in June, watching as the unheralded 6-foot-7, 205-pound quarterback from Short Gap, W.Va., took part in various drills.
Edsall offered Shaffer a scholarship later that day, and the quarterback accepted.
Shaffer reminds Edsall of veteran NFL quarterback Dan Orlovsky, who was a four-year starter under Edsall at Connecticut from 2001-04 before being selected by the Detroit Lions in the fifth round of the 2005 NFL draft.
"I think Gage Shaffer is a young man that is a big, tall, athletic guy," Edsall said. "Had a guy that was very similar to him — maybe an inch or two smaller — was Dan Orlovsky, [whom] I had at Connecticut, who's played now 10 years in the NFL.
"He's got a good arm. He's a young man that's a very competitive kid, a tough kid. He's a guy that plays basketball and somebody that I think is just going to get better. He's going to get better. And like I said, he's a competitor. He's a student of the game. He's somebody that we were very fond of when we saw him in camp."
Though rated just a two-star recrut by Rivals.com, Shaffer's film suggested a more polished prospect.
"He's a five-start to me," former NFL quarterback Joe Theismann said last summer after watching YouTube clips.
Theismann later developed a relationship with Shaffer and his high school coach, Kevin Whiteman, and went to a Frankfort High School practice late in the team's season.
Theismann said what he saw reaffirmed his stance on Shaffer, who he said can "be a top-flight quarterback in college football."
"Very, very high upside," Terps recruiting coordinator John Dunn said last week of Shaffer, who did not have any scholarship offers before being offered by Maryland. "Again, the things that he presents are a lot of things you can't teach. Big arm. Great arm strength. Can make all the throws. He has athleticism, and, obviously, he's 6-7."
ESPN ranked Shaffer as a high-end three-star recruit. Shaffer threw for 2,037 yards and 24 touchdowns this past season.
"I like the quarterback, Gage Shaffer," ESPN recruiting analyst Craig Haubert said. "He's pretty much strictly a pocket passer guy. He's not a great athlete. And quarterbacks can be tough because the intangibles are so important, and unless you spend a lot of time around a guy that can sometimes be hard to read.
"But just off of film, he comes across as a confident kid who really believes in his abilities, and he's got some touch and a strong arm. I like his upside. I think he's a guy that can be developed, and I think he's a really nice pickup at the quarterback position."