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Minnesota Football Recruiting: Tony Poljan Commits

Jerry Kill landed his quarterback for the 2016 class, another big framed dual-threat athlete with upside and high school production to back it up.

David Manning-USA TODAY Sports

Not content with merely playing a moose at quarterback, Jerry Kill continues to pioneer the large terrestrial mammal as football players effort by nabbing at buffalo to captain the offense. Cutting edge stuff indeed, ole Jer.

He's big, strong and tough; shows a good release and motion, with a plus arm that he trusts far too often at the high school level.

The Gophers found their quarterback for the 2016 cycle as Lansing (MI) Catholic HS junior quarterback/athlete Tony Poljan committed this evening. Tony is a 3 star prospect and two sport athlete according to 247Sports' Industry Composite, choosing Minnesota over football offers from Buffalo, Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan and Toledo, along with several MAC offers to play basketball. As a junior, Poljan lead his team to the Michigan Division 5 State Championship game before ultimately losing their only game of the season to future Gopher Bryce Witham's Grand Rapids West Catholic squad. Tony had an extremely productive junior season, posting 56 total touchdowns and over 3800 total yards of offense.


Tony's high school coach on his game and work ethic:

The scary part? It was only his third year playing quarterback. "He’s a big kid, but he’s worked extremely hard to get to where he’s at," Lansing Catholic Jim Ahern said last November. "And he’s going to get a lot better, I think, if he continues to work at it."

Comments from Poljan's offseason quarterbacking coach and QBU founder, Donovan Dooley, over at 247 ($):

"Tony has outstanding work ethic. He works at his craft daily, from both a cerebral standpoint as well as the on field aspect," Dooley explained. " Tony chases perfection. Minnesota is getting a kid that has a high ceiling and can play in any system. He’s a coachable kid, will ask questions, doesn’t believe he knows it all and just wants to get better day to day."

"I saw Tony during his state championship game and knew he was raw. He started coming to us right after the season. He looks totally different mechanically and fundamentally. Most importantly he’s confident now in what he’s doing."

"What’s great about Tony is he’s really never had any quarterback coaching. He’s been playing the position two years, and the success he’s had thus far was off of raw talent and athleticism," Quarterback University coach Andy Denryter recently told 247Sports.

(Likely Fraudulent) Measurables**

** The section title is a bit. It's an intentionally facetious comment on how recruiting sites (and even some college coaches) notoriously exaggerate traditional combine measures -- especially the 40. No offense is meant.

Height: 6'6"-6'7"
Weight: 220-235 lbs.
Fake 40 Time: 4.73s

Big 4 Ratings:

Site Stars Rating Position Rank
247 Composite 3 .8482 20
247 3 87 18
Rivals 3 5.5 N/A
Scout 3 N/A 91
ESPN 3 75 36


Junior Year:


Absurd Comparisons

Well MLive already made the absurd comparison, so I can roll with it: Ben Roethlisberger. Mind you, that's as a football player, not... anything else. Glad we got that out of the way.

Defenders just bounce off Poljan, and he can buy himself time to make throws by moving his feet and throwing accurately on the run. He also moves really well for a prospect his size, which makes the secondary comparison of former Illinois tight end prospect Matt LaCosse applicable as well.

Scheme Fit

Poljan plays in a spread offense at Lansing Catholic that incorporates some zone read and other quarterback run option concepts, so that'll fit in nicely with what he'll be asked to do at the next level in Matt Limegrover's system. Additionally, Coach Zebrowksi likes to get his quarterbacks out of the pocket on designed rollouts to both the right and left, something Tony showcased in his extended highlight package as well. On the intangibles front, Poljan plays like a linebacker in a quarterback's skin (again, he also plays safety/linebacker so this comes as no shock) and is a demonstrated winner: his high school team won 13 straight games en route to the state championship game.

There are parts of Tony's game at quarterback that Coach Z and Limegrover can really work with. He's big, strong and tough, checking all the necessary "Kill guy" boxes. Poljan also shows a good release and motion, with a plus arm that he trusts far too often at the high school level. He can throw accurately on the run and avoid tacklers while keeping his eyes downfield. On the downside, he needs to improve his footwork as he spent far too much time throwing off his backfoot and generally didn't step into his throws much at all. However, he appears to be working on that with the folks at QBU:

Poljan has worked with QBU the last five months.

"His footwork is totally different, he looks like a true quarterback now instead of just an athlete," Dooley said. "He still has that ability to be a dual-threat but he looks like a passer first. His old style of play was being a total athlete, he now looks like a total quarterback. We also work on the board a lot, and he understands schematics and coverage and he can articulate that better now."

Once he gets the muscle memory down and squares away his lower body mechanics with his already good release and arm strength, the velocity on his throws should improve immensely and allow him to hit some of the more difficult tosses (the few times he did this on tape, he displayed really good velocity and spiral). Also mentioned above: reading defenses and general quarterbacking. Again, Kill's mantra for years has been to nab athletes with a certain physicality and mental toughness to them, then teach them the finer points of quarterback play with an, *ahem*, risk averse style of offense. Poljan easily fits into that mold, and in my opinion has just as much pliable raw ability as Demry Croft.

Impact on Other Prospects?

Despite the gap between Chris Streveler and the incoming Croft, word is the coaches will not take a second quarterback in this class. Fans didn't get the chance to watch former All-Metro Player of the Year and walk-on QB Jacques Perra this spring due to a thumb injury, but the staff is apparently comfortable enough with the quarterbacking depth chart to roll with Leidner, Streveler and Perra heading into the fall.

Interestingly enough, Tony is just the second quarterback of Kill's tenure they've landed without having scouted them up close at their annual Summer camp prior to offering. Moose grabbed an offer after working out as a tight end then dominating a 7-on-7 tournament at The Bank, Streveler earned his after working at QB and receiver, Dimonic McKinzy camped that same Summer as Blues Streveler and Croft got his offer only after throwing in front of Coach Z at TCF Bank Stadium. The other guy? That'd be Phillip Nelson.