In our continuing series, to kind of get to know the potential first overall picks for the Carolina Panthers in the upcoming NFL Draft, we have Bill Burke, who is the athletic director at Rancho Cucamonga High School in California, and Mark Verde, who was at the time the head football coach at that high school where C.J. Stroud, I guess, first became a star.
So let me start with you, Coach Verde. Did you recognize that C.J. was different than maybe all of the other quarterbacks you had had in the past?
So, you'd obviously see it in play. What about the other parts of the, you know, playing the position, leadership on the field and all of that? Bill Burke is the A.D. at Rancho Cucamonga.
So tell me about the other elements of C.J. I know you're involved in football, but I know you're the boys basketball coach as well. Did he play other sports?
Did he have other interests? C.J. started for us for a couple years in basketball, and he was one of those kids that he came from football, and it was easy for him to transition into basketball, which is not an easy thing to do. For me, coaching for over 30 years, he's one of the rare kids that could come from football into basketball and transition pretty quickly. Were there things that he was able to do in basketball because of football? He's just an incredible athlete, and he was a leader in basketball. So when he came out to basketball, he took what he learned in football and was the leader on the football field, and he brought to us in the gym. Mark, I know you're also a teacher at Rancho Cucamonga, so what were the other elements of C.J. Stroud's high schooling career, if you will, like as a student, as just a person in the hallway at school, what can you tell me about who C.J.
is? He is the guy, the kid, I guess, I don't know, he's a grown man, that can give Panthers fans something else to know about C.J. He never had to worry about our campus.
There's some kids on your team that you have to follow through. He always had above a 3.0. He graduated high school early, right? Like he finished a semester early. So he's a guy that I didn't have to worry about getting grades or being there or complaints from people. He's just one less player I had to worry about, and he took care of himself, and he helped other kids get what they had to do.
There's a couple of sophomores that were struggling, and he kind of, with his buddies, kind of took those sophomores under his wing and tried to help them out and get them to do what they needed to do to be successful. Was he ever in one of your classes? No, he was not in my history class, no. What history do you teach?
I have world and U.S. history. Okay, so did he place out of it? What happened?
Was he afraid of you? It's a huge campus, right? There's a lot of people I don't see. We have 3,000 plus kids on campus, so we have a lot of world history and U.S. history teachers. So you admit that C.J. was ducking your class, is that what I take from that? Bill, as a guy who oversees all athletics, so you know what these kids are about, what's his personality? He's just a great kid. When he comes back right now, everyone loves to see him, and like Coach just said, we never had to worry about C.J.
walking around campus. We never had to worry about him leaving class early or doing any of that. He just took care of himself. He's just a great role model to all the kids right now. All the kids on this campus look up to him. When he comes here and talks to the kids, he's just a great kid. You think he's a future coach? He's 21, 22 years old. I just did the same thing. I nearly called him a little boy.
It's just stupid. Does he have a future coach mentality? He's a guy that loves to preach to the kids about what he went through. He had a tough growing up, but he loves to make sure that the kids understand you've got to work hard for what you want to achieve. That is a little bit of a coach in him.
What do you think about that, Mark? He likes the game preparation part of football, too, which coaches put hours and hours in. It's not just on the field. He likes the drills. He does all the work on the field, but he likes the prep work. He likes the gamesmanship, the chess matching of football. I think he'd be great as an offense coordinator, but as a head coach, too, because of his organization and how he interacts with all the people on the team from all different characters on the team. He gets along with everybody on the team, so he knows how to interact with everybody. If you just see him with little kids after practice, he just spends time with kids after practice. He just spends time with kids and likes hanging out with people, but his knowledge for the game, his curiosity for the game, and why things happen in a certain way has always been there. That would make him a really good coach, as well. Final question for both of you, and I'll start with you, Mark. If you want to just jump in here, Bill, with what you can add to this, that'd be great. How did he handle the recruiting process? It was great. I try not to get involved in the recruiting process for the players and let them make their own decision.
If they ask me for help, I'll put my two cents in, but I like them to do it. He worked hard for it. He didn't have that big-time QB coach that got into all the different passing terms. He got his name out to some other guys. He worked for it. He went to the elite 11 camps and earned everything he got. He did so much by himself, and that's why he did a lot of his career. He just works really hard as an individual. Everything that that kid has gotten, he's earned. He's earned on his own. He constantly works at his craft, and he just wants to get better every single day.
That's what makes him so great. Did you guys retire his number? We have not as of yet.
I'm sure we will at some point. Well, yes. Good luck, by the way, to all of you.
It's funny. I was looking at the demographics of the high school. Such a diverse student body.
I just can't help but think that all those things don't just give you different life perspectives, and I think it'll serve him well. So congratulations on whatever happens as a result of CJ Stroud in the future. Thank you very much, guys. Well, thank you. We appreciate it.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-19 18:34:26 / 2023-04-19 18:37:43 / 3