Monday , June 30, 2014 - 7:23 PM
ROY — A swell of anticipation is growing in high school football circles around one northern Utah program, largely due to its fourth-year quarterback. In 2014, senior quarterback Tyler Skidmore is under center at Roy High with 29 starts under his belt, ready to make a playoff run.
“When people ask me about expectations, I play it down because I don’t want to let them know we’ll be really good,” Skidmore said. “But we’ll be really good.”
A four-year starting quarterback is a rare thing even in college football. In high school it’s even more rare, especially in places like Weber County where freshmen attend junior high, not high school. When coach Fred Fernandes took over as head coach at Roy in 2011, he had several conversations with Skidmore at camps asking if he wanted to forgo his final year at Sand Ridge Junior High and play up.
At the time, the school district prohibited ninth graders from playing for sophomore or junior varsity football teams. If a freshman skipped up to high school, he could only be rostered as a varsity player. So a potential move upward brought with it the risk of playing less.
Fernandes’s efforts finally ended with Skidmore in his office, unable to provide a good reason to not play for Roy as a freshman.
“I was hoping he would stay [in junior high] because I was worried he would get hurt,” said Tyler’s mother, Robyn Skidmore. But it was clear after a junior high seven-on-seven workout that her son was ready.
“I told him you’ll never get better if you have to play down to your team. You want to play up to your potential.”
His father, Steve Skidmore, once also a quarterback at Roy, has told Tyler to first be a good person, a good student, and a good leader, and football will take care of itself. “He tells me what I need to work on, but he’s always supportive,” Tyler said.
After the decision was made to play for the high school, Skidmore won the starting job, and three seasons later, he has developed into a talented, poised quarterback. “He’s as talented as I’ve ever been around,” Fernandes said.
After the Royals went 6-3 in 2013, which led to a lopsided first-round playoff loss to East — the 4-A state runnerup — Skidmore went to work. The 6-foot-2, 205-pound signal caller trained with respected instructor Dustin Smith at Quarterback Elite once per week during the winter and spring.
He also grabbed teammates like Nate Jones, a senior receiver who also began at Roy as a freshman, to throw in the gym as often as possible. That four-year relationship should pay dividends for the Royals, as Fernandes touts Jones as one of the state’s best pass catchers.
The player teammates call “Skid” is a leader in the weight room as well, where he himself has grown from a 150-pound freshman who Fernandes schemed to protect.
“At a workout, he’s at the door as kids are leaving saying ‘Hey, did you finish your workout, you’re not going to get this chance again to get better today,’ Fernandes said. “We’re a better football team because of it.”
As a result, both Skidmore and Fernandes had high praise for the Royals’ offensive line. “The offensive line is the best I’ve had since I’ve been at Roy,” said Skidmore, while Fernandes added, “Skid’s worked his magic in getting those guys prepared. They’re ready physically.”
In April, Skidmore took advantage of an opportunity to participate at the Chicago regional camp of the prestigious Elite 11 quarterback competition. There, he was instructed by quarterback guru George Whitfield, recently hired by the San Francisco 49ers to tutor their quarterbacks this summer.
By traveling to the Midwest for Elite 11, Skidmore got a feel for high school football in Utah. “There were kids there with offers from Michigan State, Iowa, and Missouri. But they didn’t seem any better than quarterbacks here in Utah,” Skidmore said.
After Elite 11, it was time for the college camp circuit. Skidmore was invited to camps and workouts by Utah, BYU, Utah State, Weber State, and Dixie State. Currently, his only official scholarship offer is from Weber State.
“I go to these camps, and it feels like I add up equally or better than kids who have been offered,” said Skidmore of his college camp experience. “I’m going to have to wait until the season so I have more film to get more offers. I’ve gotten a lot better since last year.”
It’s not all training and workouts for the senior, however. Mike Puzey, athletic director at Roy, reported that Skidmore recently helped lead a free football clinic for the Boys and Girls Club from Roy City’s Hope Community Center. That work ethic in all areas has led Skidmore to master Roy’s playbook, knowing every offensive player’s assignment on every play in the book. Fernandes feels fortunate for the opportunity to have a fourth-year starter as his quarterback for what is shaping up to be a special season.
“We might go into a week with 18 new plays,” Fernandes said. “Because he knows the offense and the whole package, it’s not going to be hard to throw in brand new plays specifically for the upcoming opponent.
“He knows when I screw up and knows how to fix it without even skipping a beat. He’ll just take charge of the huddle and know what I meant to say even though I said it wrong, and correct it.”
In Utah, Fernandes has coached several state MVPs at quarterback: Jase McCormick and Brian Kusuda at Northridge, and Olin Hannum at Fremont. “Skidmore is better than them all and I’ve told them that,” Fernandes said. “I really think he’s a legitimate Division-I player.
“I’ll even go as far as saying, I played with Jim McMahon at Roy, and he’s that type of player.”
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