There was always that one kid growing up who was the playground legend.
They spent every moment they could on the playground. From day till night, they roamed it, participating in any sport they could, and no matter what the sport was, they always excelled. Football, baseball, basketball, whatever, there was always that one kid who could jump on any pick-up team and make them the favorite.
When Cal Poly quarterback Andre Broadous was growing up, he was that kid.
“I always played sports as a kid; I loved being active,” Broadous said. “Around seventh and eighth grade, I started pulling away from my peers, getting stronger and faster.”
Ever since Broadous was in grade school, he has been considered an athlete. He has been making people miss on the football field since he was in the fourth grade, he started developing crossovers on the basketball court in the fifth and has been playing baseball since he could peg a ball on a tee.
But now — in college — after years of organized sports programs, Broadous finds himself in a position he is not used to — the bench. At Grant High School, in Portland, Ore., Broadous earned all-state honors as a center fielder on the baseball team, played on a state championship basketball team and gained 6,000 yards of offense on a football team that lost a total of four games in three football seasons.
And after all those minutes and innings, Broadous has only a few snaps on his college football resume. For the most part he stands on the sidelines, helmet in hand, waiting for his chance.
The transition has been a bit tough, Broadous said.
“It was a tough change,” Broadous said. “I mean I felt like I could have contributed last year, but the coaches felt like it just wasn’t my time yet. It was an adjustment for me just to sit back and watch — I wanted to play all year. At the end of the day, the coaches have the call so you just have to go with it, you can’t be causing problems on the sideline.”
Recently his fortunes seem to have changed. Injuries to Tony Smith, last year’s starting quarterback, have given Broadous a key to unlock his sideline shackles. But as if being pegged second on the depth chart wasn’t enough, Broadous injured his ankle in practice, keeping his debut on ice for a little while longer.
Against Texas State, Broadous saw his first real playing time, passing for two yards while rushing for 32. He played for just a couple minutes toward the end of the first half, but the playing time wasn’t enough. He wants to be an every game starting quarterback, he said.
“I want (the starting spot) bad. I came here for a reason and that was to be a starter,” Broadous said. “I am going to work hard every day, anything that we do I am going to try to give it my all.”
When fans do get a chance to see Broadous in his entirety, they will be able to feast their eyes on an elusive ball carrier. Spins, jukes and pivots are all parts of his artillery when he is running, and he can use them when and where he pleases.
“When he is running the ball he finds ways to squirm through tackles, and he is constantly electric when he gets the ball in his hands,” Smith said. “He is a guy that, when he touches the ball something special could happen. And those are the types of guys that you like to have on your team and have a chance to play with.”
Watching Broadous is like watching a highlight reel. Just when it seems he has no place to go, he shakes a defender and takes off for a 50-yard run. It didn’t take long for his teammates to realize his quick feet and his playmaking abilities.
“He has tremendous upside and tremendous amounts of athleticism,” Fullback Jake Romanelli said. “When the play breaks down, when the pocket breaks down, the biggest asset with Dre is that he can rip of 20 yards or something.”
So with all his big play potential, why isn’t he being used on the field? Put simply, he is young. If Broadous had to point his finger at one thing that has kept him from seeing the field in his two years at Cal Poly, he said it is that he still hasn’t mastered the playbook.
“For a lot of players, it takes awhile to learn the game,” Broadous said. “If you look at any triple-option team in the country, there is no quarterback who has come in and started as a freshman – there (is) a lot of stuff you have to learn. I think just experience and learning the system – that’s what kept me off the field.”
Mastering the game won’t come easy. From start to finish of every play in Cal Poly’s offensive scheme, there are so many reads a quarterback has to make. Numbers, defensive positioning, blitzes and personnel are all things Broadous has to take into account before he even starts the play. And even when the play is in motion, it can get worse.
“Once you get to the line, you (have) at least two reads to make while the ball is getting hiked,” Broadous said. “You are looking at your read key to see if you are giving to the fullback or you’re keeping it, and if you’re keeping it you have to look for your pitch key. If your pitch key is attacking you, you pitch the ball, and if he is not then keep it.”
Once Broadous can master all the schematics, his teammates think there may be no limit to what the sophomore can be. Romanelli said Broadous is only scratching the surface of his true potential and even if Broadous hasn’t played as much as he has wanted, Romanelli has seen him get better through practice and he thinks it will continue.
“His game, just from the moment I saw him as a freshman, till now, has literally improved so much,” Romanelli said. “I think that we haven’t even seen the beginnings of what Dre can do.”
Broadous’ expectations for himself are no exception. After being the playground legend and all the minutes and innings of experience in high school, Broadous has been humbled by the college sideline. But not playing on the field at Alex G. Spanos Stadium hasn’t hindered his expectations of his Cal Poly career.
When he does get his chance to start under center for the Mustangs, he will be back in a comfortable position. Furthermore, he wants to relive the dominance he had over his peers as a kid, just on a grander scale and dressed in green and gold.
“I want to one of the best triple-option quarterbacks to come through Cal Poly,” Broadous said.