Ken Mastrole and his staff address young players at a clinic (Photo courtesy of Mastrole Passing Academy).
Professional Insight with Mastrole Passing Academy Founder Ken Mastrole
Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (Friday, February 5, 2010) – When watching the coverage of National Signing Day on ESPN this past Wednesday, it became clearly evident that the scope of college football recruiting is evolving at a dramatic rate. Much like the dominating coverage given to the NFL Draft, National Signing Day is quickly emerging as the “next big thing” for the media in relation to the country’s most popular sport.
“When I was in high school, the coverage of National Signing Day didn’t amount to much more than a blurb in USA Today. It was much more of something that was only covered by local media,” said Ken Mastrole, a former Top 10 high school quarterback recruit and founder of the South Florida based Mastrole Passing Academy. “Rarely did you see players break a commitment to a school, and you definitely didn’t see players switching hats on TV when it came time to make their announcement. It’s become a much bigger deal and more of a business now.”
Mastrole was highly sought after following his high school career at Cardinal Gibbons High School in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. College powerhouses such as Miami, Michigan, Clemson and Virginia Tech all recruited him hard, and offers poured in from 25 Division I schools by the end of recruiting.
“Recruiting then wasn’t as big as it is today, and it didn’t have the same amount of publicity,” he reflected. “There wasn’t a huge online presence at the time, so coaches spent most of their time on the road to see players in person.”
When all the smoke cleared from recruiting season, it was the pro-style offense being run at the University of Maryland that finally drew Mastrole to a decision.
“On National Signing Day, Maryland called me at 7:00 a.m.,” he remarked. “They had recruited me hard, and I had already decided that I loved everything about Maryland. They threw the ball a lot, and I knew their pro-style offense would be the best thing for a quarterback like me.”
While the recruiting process and National Signing Day has seen a drastic facelift since then, Mastrole is also quick to acknowledge the rising talent of the players today.
“Kids are better now than ever,” he stated. “These players are much more educated in training and go to a lot more private coaching and camps. Football has truly become a year-round sport, and some high schools have developed into college-type atmospheres. Colleges are now looking for much more polished players, and the kids today are more polished than ever. The game has evolved.”
After college graduation, Mastrole spent time with the Chicago Bears, and he then saw a lot of success with the Amsterdam Admirals of NFL Europe and within the game of arena football. He quarterbacked the Florida Firecats to the 2004 ArenaCup in his last professional game, and he then led the Firecats to the most potent offense in arenafootball2 as its offensive coordinator.
Today, Mastrole deals directly with some of the top recruits in the country with his own football school, Mastrole Passing Academy. While receivers and offensive linemen are also trained by his professional staff, developing young quarterbacks to succeed at the college level and beyond serves as a main source of his passion.
“Quarterback is one of the most complex positions in sports,” he said. “A quarterback cannot rely entirely on athleticism. It is a position that you must be very fundamentally and mechanically sound, and you must be a mentally strong leader to truly succeed.”
Mastrole was a player that had to work extremely hard to find success as a college and professional quarterback, and those personal hardships are a unique characteristic that he brings to the players that come through his academy.
“I take my life lessons of playing at multiple levels in multiple leagues, and I feel like I can relate to a lot of these young players,” he commented. “I watch kids in our program leap frog other players at their position, and that’s very rewarding to me. I see them devote time, effort, sweat and commitment into their craft, and I truly appreciate what they are doing.
“Their hard work translates to success on the field, and I love being part of that.”
For more information on the Mastrole Passing Academy, visit www.MastrolePassing.com.