Football | For QB Doll, patience finally paying off
Published: Thursday, September 20, 2012
Updated: Thursday, September 20, 2012 02:09
At Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, Calif., blue-chip quarterbacks are the rule. Among those to don the scarlet and gray: Colt Brennan, Matt Leinart and Matt Barkley. If you’re not destined for the NFL — or at least USC — you have two choices: transfer, or get in line and wait your turn.
Jack Doll chose the latter.
Now a sophomore at Tufts, Doll backed up Barkley in his second year at Mater Dei. His junior and senior years, he backed up Max Wittek, who’s now Barkley’s second-string at USC.
With opportunities for playing time at quarterback few and far between, Doll became a wide receiver.
“We always told him, ‘Son, you’re a talented quarterback, but what are we gonna do?’” said Bruce Rollinson, the head coach at Mater Dei since 1989. “[We] were able to agree on [him becoming] a wide receiver and our backup quarterback, which was an easy transition for him, obviously, with his knowledge of the offense.”
This week, Doll is preparing for his first game as Tufts’ starting quarterback, when the Jumbos will run new offensive coordinator Frank Hauser’s system for the first time.
If anyone is prepared to master a new system, it’s Doll.
“It’s a pretty sophisticated offense [at Mater Dei],” Rollinson said. “It requires a tremendous amount of study by the quarterbacks. I truly believe [Jack’s] depth of knowledge regarding scheme coverages, replacement routes, hot routes — it’s probably at an advanced stage for a kid coming out of high school. And Jack could do it because he was so cerebral. He was just a very, very smart kid, both on the field and off.”
Even at wide receiver, Doll played with a quarterback’s mentality.
“Because of his understanding, because of the extensive amount of film study that he had done, he just knew where the open areas were,” Rollinson said. “He knew from being a quarterback, this is what he wanted the receiver to do and [the receiver] didn’t do it. So he would do it.”
“I’ve always been a quarterback at heart,” Doll added. “I’ve always kind of played receiver like a quarterback.”
According to Rollinson, Doll could have easily been a starting quarterback at other area high schools. But make no mistake about it: He wanted to be under center at Mater Dei.
“I think Jack had a tremendous competitive edge to him,” Rollinson said. “This didn’t sit well with Jack. He competed every day to win the job, and he made other players around him better.”
Doll’s commitment to the Mater Dei program never wavered, and when it came time to find the right college, his hard work, both on the field and in the classroom, paid off.
“I always quietly admired and respected the fact [that] he never thought about transferring,” Rollinson said. “He was going to compete and he was going to make the best of his opportunity because he saw the bigger picture. He saw the opportunities that, if he got those high grades, there were still a lot of places that would accept him where they played football.”
Doll was introduced to the NESCAC by his sister, a junior at Williams College. But it was Tufts that caught his eye.
“Obviously, not a lot of people from where I’m from go to Tufts,” Doll said. “But coach [Jay] Civetti gave me an opportunity. He told me he wanted me to be a quarterback, and I just wanted to take advantage of that.”
Last season, as a freshman, Doll threw just one pass, an 11-yard completion in the snow against Amherst. In last Friday’s scrimmage against Bowdoin, his QB sneak from the goal line helped the Jumbos win a game for the first time since Sept. 2010.
But when he takes the field on Saturday against Wesleyan, he won’t be putting too much pressure on himself.
“What I just need to focus on is getting the calls right, getting everybody set up properly and then just executing my job,” Doll said. “I think in this offense everybody just needs to do their job, not try to do too much, and things kind of take care of themselves.”
That’s the philosophy Doll has employed so far, and it’s worked out just fine. Now, he finally has a chance to show what he has learned.
“I’m so excited for him to have this opportunity,” Rollinson said. “I always believed this would come.”