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FILE PHOTO: SAM GANGWER , STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
San Clemente quarterback Jack Sears will compete at the coveted coveted Elite 11 Camp finals in July.

Smarts and savvy place San Clemente's Sears among nation's best QBs

STAFF WRITER

Jack Sears often shows up to the San Clemente High football office, unprompted, and draws up plays on the board.

Rather than boasting on Twitter about the 25 Division I scholarship offers he has scored, the Tritons quarterback spends hours watching game film. He dissects the X’s and O’s behind different coverages, hungry to determine what defenses are doing, when they are doing it and why they are doing it.

Sears, who boasts a 4.0 grade-point-averag and juggled two Advanced Placement courses plus an honors course this recent school year, craves any tip he can find from decision-making and leadership to footwork and speed.

“He loves the mental preparation and the homework side that nobody really knows about or reports about,” said his father, Paul Sears.

“He’s a student of the game,” echoed San Clemente coach Jaime Ortiz. “He understands that just his athleticism won’t win football games. His ability to have that football IQ and make players around him better, that’s important.”

Sears’ smarts were on display last weekend in Redondo Beach, as he was one of 24 quarterbacks in the nation competing in the semifinals for a spot at the coveted Elite 11 Camp. The Elite 11 is the most prestigous high school quarterback camp in the nation, as future college and NFL stars battle it out for a spot and for a chance to compete with the nation’s best.

Qualifying for the Elite 11 Finals, which will take place the first week in July in Beaverton, Ore., Sears was the Elite 11 counselors’ choice for the prospect with the highest football IQ.

Sears is the third quarterback at San Clemente in the last six years to make the Elite 11, joining Sam Darnold and Travis Wilson. He will have a chance to not only showcase his talent amongst the nation’s best, but to learn from elite NFL players and coaches such as former QB Trent Dilfer.

“I’m very excited to go out there and compete with these guys and learn from these coaches that have played at the highest level, have coached at the highest level,” Sears said. “They have some of the best knowledge that I could learn from.”

Sears, who has been playing football since the second grade, wasn’t always the center of attention.

He arrived at San Clemente as a sophomore after his family moved from San Diego. With Darnold, now at USC, commanding the troops as starting quarterback, Sears had to take a backseat.

He played wide receiver, swallowing his own goals and focusing on those of his team. The Tritons reached the CIF Southwest Division championship game that season.

“It was a sign of teamwork,” Ortiz said. “He probably could have started at numerous other schools, but he knew that Sam Darnold was the guy and he would have to wait his turn. He did whatever he had to do to help the team.”

The move made Sears a smarter player. Watching the way Darnold handled different situations, Sears was able to adjust to the speed and physicality of varsity football without the pressure.

He discovered how receivers move and how they think, which eventually helped him become a more well-rounded quarterback.

“I think it was the best thing for me and where I’m at today because I got to sit there and learn. I didn’t get thrown into the fire,” Sears said. “I saw a great guy do it and I just kind of followed in his footsteps and kind of became my own this year.”

Sears torched opponents in his first season starting at QB in 2015. The junior had 37 touchdowns with only two interceptions, and completed 71 percent of his passes. He was named league offensive Most Valuable Player.

“Being a quarterback at San Clemente High School, there’s a pretty big spotlight. Over the last 10 years we’ve had numerous kids go Division I,” Oritz said. “Jack’s accepted that responsibility, and now he has to drive that car and be the guy.

“For Jack I think the sky’s the limit. He’s just scratched the surface of what he can do.”

Sears will narrow his list of colleges this summer, as he completes finals and takes unofficial visits over the next few weeks.

Until then, he’s back to the drawing board. More film. More plays. More lessons.

“There’s so much that goes into football from a mental standpoint,” Sears said. “Everyone sees the physical, but there’s a lot mentally that goes into it and you can always improve on that side of the ball. It’s a lot of fun to me learn new things about the game.”

Contact the writer: mfader@ocregister.com


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