With a 3.6 grade-point average and coming off a junior season in which he completed 69% of his passes, threw for 3,291 yards and 36 touchdowns and was named Gatorade state player of the year, quarterback Ryan Kasdorf of Sherman Oaks Notre Dame had every reason to believe college recruiters would be sold on his football skills.
Instead, it was a summer of discontent for Kasdorf, who went to camps, combines and competitions yet was unable to convince the skeptics.
"I have to prove myself again this year and have a better season and show it wasn't a one-time thing," he said.
The good news for Notre Dame is that Kasdorf is stronger, faster and more experienced in running the Knights' spread offense. At times, he was unstoppable last season.
There was a 14-of-15 passing performance against Valencia West Ranch. There were 320 yards passing and four touchdowns against Encino Crespi. There was 15-of-18 passing for 250 yards against La Puente Bishop Amat. There were 279 yards passing and four touchdowns against Los Angeles Loyola. There was 132 yards rushing against Saugus.
"The most amazing statistic is he averaged more than 10 yards per pass attempt," Coach Kevin Rooney said.
All that adds to the mystery of what is preventing colleges from pursuing Kasdorf.
"It's definitely frustrating a little bit," he said. "I don't really know why I'm not getting offers. Since there's nothing I can control about it besides what I do, I try to keep it out of my mind and keep working hard and hope what I do this season will be enough to prove to everybody I can play."
One issue for college recruiters is Kasdorf's size. He's listed at 6 feet 1. That's considered small for big-time programs. Several other quarterbacks from the region have made college commitments, but they're at least 6-3.
There has also been concern about a hitch in Kasdorf's release. He has worked to shorten it up and make it quicker.
Rooney has been equally baffled considering how effective Kasdorf has been in running the Knights' offense.
"The qualities he possesses that make him exceptional are he has a real strong arm, he has great vision, he finds the guys who are open, he's a great decision maker," Rooney said.
And Kasdorf's ability to run out of the shotgun gives opposing coaches additional worries besides his passing skills.
"Once I go through my progressions, if no one is open then I start looking to improvise, which may lead to running," Kasdorf said. "Or, if someone comes in completely unblocked and I feel that I'll take a sack is when I decide to run. Otherwise, I try to throw the ball as much as I can. It's definitely fun to run. I like to hit people, so when I run, I run aggressively."
There's no reason Kasdorf can't be as effective as last season. The Knights return four of their five starters on the offensive line, plus running back Kenny Boggs. The big challenge will be replacing most of their receivers, and it starts on Sept. 7 with a nationally televised night game in Dallas against Houston Klein Oak.
Rooney is confident Kasdorf will be ready to deal with the highs and lows ahead.
"He's always striving to improve," he said. "He's gotten a lot stronger. He's quicker. Just having a year's experience in our offense and having a chance to run it again will make him more successful."
And just maybe a college recruiter will be convinced that Kasdorf can produce at the next level.
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Top 10 quarterbacks
*--* PLAYER SCHOOL HT., WT. CLASS COMMENT Bryan Bennett Crespi 6-3, 190 Senior Oregon commit set to return to sophomore form Devon Blackmon Summit 6-1, 180 Junior Rising college prospect Brandon Connette Corona Santiago 6-2, 195 Senior Duke commit is ready for big season Ryan Kasdorf S.O. Notre Dame 6-1, 205 Senior Knows how to run spread offense to perfection Nick Montana Oaks Christian 6-2, 190 Senior Washington commit has made steady improvement Chase Rettig San Clemente 6-4, 205 Senior La Salle transfer is committed to Boston College Jesse Scroggins Lakewood 6-2, 200 Senior Versatility , mobility, strong arm make USC commit the best Tyler Shreve Redlands East Valley 6-4, 215 Senior Top athlete who wins games Matt Viles Edison 6-3, 190 Senior If the line protects him, beware Greg Watson Rancho Cucamonga 6-0, 190 Senior Led his team to 13-0-1 record a year ago *--*
* An expanded list is available at www.latimes.com/preps