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Bryce Young and C.J. Stroud returned to their roots to complete their preparations for the NFL draft, where their names are expected to be among the first called Thursday during the opening day of the festive event.
The duo trained in recent weeks in Southern California’s fertile cradle for quarterbacks prospects, not far from their old high school campuses of Mater Dei and Rancho Cucamonga, respectively.
Young and Stroud worked under the watchful eye of private quarterback coach John Beck of Huntington Beach-based 3DQB, an elite training group. Beck also coaches at the same high school that produced the last Southern California quarterback selected in the top three of the NFL draft – Sam Darnold out San Clemente High and USC.
You think you’ve heard this story before? Try again.
Two Southern California quarterbacks with impressive collegiate credentials could be selected among the first four selections in Kansas City, Mo.
Image if John Elway or Carson Palmer had SoCal running mates at the very top of the draft in 1983 or 2003 when they were No. 1 draft picks after rising from Granada Hills and Santa Margarita. That’s what Young and Stroud appear on the cusp of accomplishing.
“It’s awesome and definitely enforces the belief that the SoCal region does the best job producing quarterbacks,” said national recruiting analyst Greg Biggins of 247Sports, who has covered Young and Stroud since high school. “I’m not surprised at all. We had Bryce rated as the No. 1 QB nationally and C.J. was No. 3, and both were predicted to be first-round picks.”
Young, the 2021 Heisman Trophy winner at Alabama, is projected to be selected No. 1 overall by the Carolina Panthers, according to one of the latest mock drafts at NFL.com.
Stroud, a Heisman Trophy finalist at Ohio State, is projected to be the next QB selected at No. 4 by the Indianapolis Colts.
The SoCal products polished their craft training with Beck and 3DQB. The Huntington Beach-based group was co-founded by Adam Dedeaux, grandson of former USC baseball coach Rod Dedeaux, and Tom House, the throwing specialist who has worked with Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Palmer among others.
Beck stressed efficiency and awareness while tutoring Young (5-10, 204) and Stroud (6-3, 214) for the NFL combine, their pro days and private workouts for teams.
“There’s a lot of things that both these guys do extremely well,” said Beck, who played quarterback at BYU and coaches QBs at San Clemente. “But they are different, not only from body type but to the way their bodies move. … and teams recognize that (for their schemes).”
“Bryce is extremely twitchy. Great sense of space. He has like that sixth sense of what’s around him, so you see him more maneuverable in the pocket in trying to create lanes. He plays a lot like a point guard in basketball,” Beck added.
“C.J. has a bigger frame. If he is moving in the pocket, it’s for avoidance purposes to take off and run. … C.J. wants to come off a (shot)gun action and he wants to deliver a downfield shot to a deep crosser to somebody on an outlet. That’s what his strength is. He’s going to be able to stand in that pocket.”
Young’s lack of height has been heavily debated entering the draft, but Beck is confident how his protege views an evolving game.
“This is the relationship, size-wise, that he has to the game. It’s all he knows,” Beck said of Young, who grew up in Pasadena and played at Cathedral of Los Angeles before transferring to Mater Dei. “It used to be desired to have somebody 6-foot-4 stand back behind a big offensive line to deliver balls. It’s not like that anymore.”
“If you ever hear size come up, it’s more of a durability, not an ability, thing,” the coach added.
Young and Stroud will offer their future teams plenty of intangibles, too.
Dating to high school, Young is known for his composure, faith and close relationship with his father Craig. He also was the first Black starting QB at Mater Dei.
Stroud also stands up for his faith and became a gritty leader after his father Coleridge was sent to prison.
“When you see two guys who are at the front of the draft like C.J. and Bryce Young, you know this is a byproduct of the competition that we have in the CIF Southern Section,” said Rancho Cucamonga coach Brian Hildebrand, who coached against Stroud in high school while at Roosevelt.
“For two guys to come out of here who are from just miles apart from each other,” the coach added, “it’s awesome to see and you really pull for both guys.”