Small-school studs worth watching: Tusculum QB Bo Cordell
Hailing from the little-known Tusculum College, quarterback Bo Cordell has spent the past few seasons rewriting the school record book and racking up ridiculous amounts of yardage.
Since his freshman year at Tusculum, Cordell has been the starting quarterback for the Pioneers. Before breaking his foot three games into the 2011 season, every sub-division award watch list that included quarterbacks had his name on it. He was named the 2011 Preseason National Division II Football Most Valuable Player by Lindy’s Sports Magazine and was on the shortlist of players to watch for the 2011 Harlon Hill Trophy (Division II’s version of the Heisman).
What really got Cordell on NFL radars, though, was his 2010 season. During his sophomore campaign, Cordell led all NCAA divisions in total offensive yards per game (425.45), passing yards per game (423.36) and completions per game (35.82). He broke several school records, including total passing yards (4,657) and passing touchdowns (38) in a single season. During a showdown with Catawba, Cordell put up an astounding 510 yards through the air. His entire 2010 season was summed up when he was named the 2010 NCAA II National Statistical Champion.
Combining an NFL-caliber arm with impressive confidence and leadership, Cordell does a good job of standing strong in the pocket and delivering a consistently-accurate ball. He possesses good pocket awareness and uses his eyes/feet to make time for himself. Even when on the run, he keeps his eyes downfield and doesn’t immediately bail out the defense by tucking the ball. Cordell excels at finding his check downs and doesn’t force too many passes into coverage. Although he doesn’t have a rocket-like arm, his passes have some zip that allows him to put the ball into tight spaces. He’s not a supreme athlete, but has the mobility and instincts to make plays on the ground.
Despite his overwhelming stats and stature as an elite Division II gunslinger, Cordell’s game isn’t without a few holes.
Regardless of his athleticism, Cordell has a tendency to rely too heavily on his feet when the pocket collapses. It may work sometimes against Division II foes, but his lack of elite speed isn’t going to allow him to escape NFL defenses. He needs to do a better job of standing his ground and either delivering the ball quicker or getting rid of it. Cordell’s pocket presence isn’t the best, but his offensive line at Tusculum does a great job of giving him time to throw. Several of his interceptions came from overthrown deep balls, showing that he doesn’t have a terrific grasp of downfield accuracy. He also has a knack for putting too much air under the ball when throwing deep.
He doesn’t have ideal height for an NFL quarterback at 6’1’’ and doesn’t help that with a three-quarters release. Especially when he’s on the run, Cordell does have a tendency to throw sidearm. Cordell has thrived in Tusculum’s spread offense, where he takes snaps almost exclusively out of the shotgun. He will need time to develop a better grasp of going through progressions and learning how to take snaps from under center.
The biggest concern surrounding Cordell heading into the 2012 season is whether or not he’s completely recovered from his broken foot. Although he’s already announced that he’s back to full health and performed exceptionally during spring scrimmages, it’ll be interesting to see if the injury lingers.
As long as he can stay healthy and continue to build on his past performances, Cordell could find a way onto NFL draft boards before season’s end. He may not be worth more than a late-round flier, but he’ll have a reasonable chance to make a roster at the next level.