Nik Scalzo committed to Kentucky on Monday night, giving the Wildcats their first — and what might be their last — quarterback commitment in the 2019 class.
The timing of his decision and whether Kentucky’s staff is still pursuing other quarterbacks are topics SEC Country recently discussed with Scalzo.
The Fort Lauderdale, Fla., native is the 16th-ranked dual-threat quarterback in the 2019 class, according to the 247Sports composite. The Cardinal Gibbons quarterback is listed at 5-foot-11 and 185 pounds.
Q: Why was Monday the right time to announce your commitment?
Scalzo: “A couple weeks ago, Coach [Eddie] Gran said I was really high on their recruitment. And finally on Monday, which is the day I committed, Coach Gran, Coach [Darin] Hinshaw and Coach [Mark] Stoops all called me and said that they would love for me to commit to their school. They told me they believed in me and that I was a fit for their program.”
Q: Was that a call you were waiting on, or could you have committed earlier? How did that process unfold?
Scalzo: “Yeah I was waiting for them, honestly. This spring has been pretty good for me offer wise, but since I was a freshman, Coach Gran’s been recruiting me really hard. He just treats you like family. There’s not many programs like that. I always had it in the back of my mind that I wanted to commit there, but I was keeping my options open. Then once Coach Gran told me Monday that I was able to commit, I was 100 percent with it.”
Q: Could you sense any change with the staff as far as why they decided this week that you were their guy?
Scalzo: “Coach Hinshaw came to our Red and White scrimmage Thursday, and I guess they had a coaches meeting Saturday to talk about it. Coach Gran said that they believe in me and that all the coaches agreed. Monday was the day.”
Q: With Kentucky being an SEC school and one of two Power 5 schools to offer you, is that something that put them ahead?
Scalzo: “My second offer was Illinois. That’s my only other Power 5 offer. Since freshman year, Coach Gran said they were interested in me, and then a few months ago when they finally offered, it showed that all the hard work paid off. And even though I’m not the tallest guy or fastest guy, they see that I have a chip on my shoulder, that I’ll work harder than anyone else, that I can be a big-time college football player.”
Q: Why do you have a chip on your shoulder?
Scalzo: “I’m not the tallest. Everyone doubts me cause I’m not this prototypical 6-foot-4, 6-foot-3 quarterback, you know what I mean? I’m 5-10. I like it because it makes me work harder, it makes me grind just because I know that there are gonna be people that overlook me. And then at the end I can look back and say, ‘I proved you wrong.’”
Q: That sounds a lot like the things Baker Mayfield said. Is he a guy you look at that has a similar size and play style?
Scalzo: “Oh yeah. I see myself playing like him. We have the same stature and the same play style. My attitude’s a little better (laughs).
Baker 2.0 pic.twitter.com/g7uIbXjhgk
— Nik Scalzo (@NikScalzo) April 16, 2018
Q: Are there any other quarterbacks you pattern your game after?
Scalzo: “I’d definitely say Baker. Drew Brees, because he’s not that tall. He plays on his toes. Russell Wilson, because he’s got that playmaker mentality. I’ll throw [Johnny] Manziel in there.”
Q: How much of your game is based on getting outside the pocket and making plays?
Scalzo: “I would like to say that I’m a pocket passer, but I have the ability to extend plays as a dual-threat quarterback. I can stay in the pocket and make those throws — but when I’m on the run, that’s when I think I’m at the top of my game. I feel like I have very good field vision and I can get the ball to where I need it to be.”
Q: There’s speculation as to whether Kentucky wants two quarterbacks in this class or if the staff is going to stick with you as the guy. Do you have any insight on that?
Scalzo: “Yeah. Before in my recruitment they always told me they were gonna take two quarterbacks. But Coach Gran told me they’re most likely taking one unless something happens. They said they’re set on me and they want me to be their quarterback.”
Q: Last year Jarren Williams de-committed, and the year before that Mac Jones did the same. I know you’re probably hearing that some of UK’s early quarterback commitments ended up flipping. Are you shutting down your recruitment or keeping an open mind?
Scalzo: “That’s not me. I stay true to my word. I’m 110 percent committed to Kentucky and I don’t care if Alabama comes to my door knocking. Nothing’s gonna change my mind. All the fans out there, just know that I’m not gonna do what these past quarterbacks have done these last few years.”