Oregon Ducks Football: The Maturation of Tyler Shough

Mike Kelly Talent Evaluation

The task of recruiting and receiving a commitment from a highly regarded quarterback each recruiting cycle is an arduous process. Keeping said commit in the fold is even harder. After having a commitment from Colson Yankoff only to lose him to the rivals up north, the Oregon Ducks focused their efforts on an Elite 11 quarterback that was committed elsewhere, Tyler Shough from Chandler, Arizona.

Shough (pronounced “Shuck”) hails from football powerhouse program Hamilton High School, where he put up impressive numbers as a two-year starter. The Huskies are Arizona’s largest high school with an enrollment of over 3,800 students. A relatively new school that opened in 1998, they quickly became a football power in Arizona. Since their inception they have won approximately 88% of their games, finished ranked first or second in their region fourteen times, won twenty region/section titles, and seven state titles.


Tyler Shough has been listed from a number of media sources as 6-foot-4 to 6-foot-5 and 187 to 200 lbs. The recruiting website ESPN.com lists him at 6-foot-5 and 187 lbs., while tarheeltimes.com lists him at 6-foot-4 and 190 lbs. However, he was officially measured at a sanctioned event on March 12, 2017 (Nike – “The Opening” Regionals) at 6-foot-4 and one-half. He weighed in at 187 lbs.

I have not seen anything posted regarding his arm length or hand size, but for a man of his size an arm length of 33″ to 34″ long is probable and his hand size (measured from thumb to pinkie finger) is likely to be 9-3/8″ to 10-1/2″. Anything over 9-1/2″ is considered “big hands;” this is very important for a quarterback.

Tyler Shough

He was officially tested for Speed, Power, Agility, Reaction, and Quickness (SPARQ) at The Opening Regionals last March, scoring a respectable 87.66. Any score from 80 to 100 is a good score for a “Pro-Style” quarterback. The “Dual Threat” guys tend to score a little higher because they tend to be better athletes. Shough is not a burner, but a 4.88 in 40-yard dash is respectable. His shuttle in the low-4’s (4.22) is very good for a kid standing nearly 6’5. And he’s very strong (37’0 power ball), as anything approaching 40 feet for a tall skinny kid is impressive.


There are essentially three levels of development when quarterbacks are taught where to throw the football. The first is as a novice, where the offense is “dumbed down.” The most effective way to do this is to use two receiver routes where two wide receivers are split wide, and the tight end and running backs are held in for maximum protection (“max protect”). Quite often in this formation the quarterback will roll out of the pocket, so he is only reading one-half of the field (and essentially one receiver).

The second level of development is called progression reads, where the quarterback has a clear understanding of receiver routes, timing, and defensive alinements. At this level the quarterback performs a pre-snap read of the defense and then progresses from his primary receiver sequentially to the second, third, and fourth options in the play. Timing with the receivers here is important, which will vary best on whether the play calla for a 3-step drop, or a 5-step drop.

Tyler Shough

The final step in the development of a quarterback is the coverage read, which is generally an NFL-level decision making process. Here, you’re throwing the ball based on what the defense gives you. We’ve all seen the images on television of the quarterback and his position coach looking at photos taken of the previous sets of downs. They are evaluating photo snapshots of the coverages for the next time the offense takes the field. The quarterback is surveying the entire field and throwing the ball according to the coverages dictated by the defense.

Tyler Shough was the first junior to start at Hamilton High School since 2008. According to Maxpreps.com, he threw for 5,150 yards and 57 touchdowns in his varsity career. And he increased his touchdown-to-interception ration from 3-1 as a junior to a gaudy 6-1 as a senior, a remarkable transformation.

Junior Year

As a junior he appeared to lack the skills developed to cope with a pass rush of any kind and he appeared to struggle with the step up from novice level reads to progression reads. There is a lot of max-protect and two-receiver routes on his junior tape.

Scrambles out of trouble…

In the video above, Hamilton is in a 4-Vert (four receivers on vertical routes) set, and at the snap the pocket breaks down. Shough doesn’t keep his eyes down field or extend the play by side stepping the rusher. It’s also a poorly designed play where the tight end should have been a “safety valve” after his blocking assignment.

Under pressure…

In the video above, Shough does a nice job side stepping the rush, but again focusing down field under pressure was an issue for him as a junior.

Nice Deep Pass…

As he grew in his junior year there were “highs” as well as the “lows.” In the clip above he is not able to step up in the pocket because of the rush, but he still dropped a nice rainbow on a split receiver for a touchdown. Throughout his junior tape he demonstrated rare ability to accurately place “spot” throws anywhere on the field. The kid has a nice touch.

Senior Year

Tyler’s progress from his junior year to his senior year represented a quantum leap. He looked like a different guy. He was confident, poised, under control, and knew the playbook. He was aware of where everybody was supposed to be…offense and defense, and took advantage of it. He appeared equally comfortable under center or out of the shotgun. He was clearly at the second level of development, as he demonstrated progression reads. He grasped the concept of climbing the pocket under pressure instead of “bailing” on the play.

Keeps his eyes down field…

In this video, Tyler moves around in the pocket to avoid the rush. Keeping his eyes down field, steps up to fire a laser shot to a streaking wide receiver out of a 4-Vert set. Nice poise and pocket awareness, with a demonstrated elite ability to extend the play.

Pocket Awareness…

I define pocket awareness as the ability to extend the play when the protection breaks down, and an ability to be resourceful in getting the football to an outlet receiver by any means necessary. In the case above, Tyler’s executes a shovel pass to his running back. Very impressive awareness and athleticism.

Moving People with his Eyes…

The above play is one of my favorite clips of Shough. A pre-snap glance to the right to locate his intended target followed by looking off the safety. Even the linebackers are flowing AWAY from the play. Then he arcs a perfect “garbage can” throw in the flat for a first down. Moving defensive backs and linebackers by “looking off” is a must at the D1 level. Great play. His basket or “garbage can” throws are at an ELITE level, as shown here.

Selling the Play-Action Pass…

Shough does a fine job selling play-action in the video above. At the snap the linebackers are all crashing the line of scrimmage. And if the linebackers bit that hard, you know the safety’s are out of position too. Nice job of selling the play-action, and he follows up with fine throwing mechanics, delivering a strike for a touchdown.

Who He Reminds Me Of…

Jared Goff

Fellow Elite11 Alumnus Jared Goff of the Los Angeles Rams. Both share similar size and athleticism. Both of these guys can make all of the throws. They can climb the pocket, they can move around to extend the play, they can run when they have to and are underrated athletes. Jared made the leap from Marin Catholic High School to being the first true freshman to start a season opener at the University of California-Berkeley. After being drafted with the first overall selection in the 2016 NFL Draft Goff struggled in his rookie year (63.6 Quarterback Rating), but bounced back in his sophomore season, demonstrating a quick learning curve. His QBR jumped to 100.5 and he posted an impressive 4-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio.


Tyler Shough has all of the tools to excel at the quarterback position. Great size at 6-foot-5 and when filled out he will be well over 200 pounds, which is prototypical NFL quarterback size. He is a solid athlete (+/- 88 SPARQ), and will improve athletically as he fills out his frame.

He has the intellect to process information quickly, a trait that goes hand-in-hand with the requisite size to play the position. If a quarterback cannot process a voluminous amount of data and make accurate decisions fast, all of the physical size and talent in the world won’t matter. Tyler is a 2018 National Football Top-60 Scholar-Athlete with reported GPA’s of 4.3 to 4.4. He’s a smart kid, and his rapid development from his junior to senior year attests to this. A quarterback must be able to take classroom “skull sessions” out on to the field and execute them quickly and at a high level. They must be able absorb the complexities of not only their position,  but each of their teammates, to ensure that everyone is lined up correctly.

Shough also has the work ethic and “fighter’s mentality” forged by personal family tragedy in the death of an older sibling, as well as his mother’s ongoing battle with cancer for over a decade. Further, his mental toughness and leadership was tested by a serious hazing incident where Hamilton High School lost seven top players due to transfers, and one criminal indictment, prior to his senior year. Still, he led his team to a winning record and achieved personal accolades such as being named to the Tacoma Western 100 and a Semper Fidelis All American.

Tyler Shough’s rapid maturation from junior varsity football as a sophomore, to a varsity starter as a junior, to Elite11 development by the start of his senior year, is truly astonishing. It suggests a very high ceiling. He should have a very good college career and he possesses all of the tools to play in the NFL.

Michael Kelly “Chico Duck”
Chico, California

Top Photo Credit: azfamily powered by 3TV & CBS5az

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