Georgia Tech quarterback Vad Lee spent spring break in San Diego, but it wasn’t for beach and sun. Mostly, he spent the week at the knee of one of the more renowned quarterback tutors in the game.
“If you could buy stock in that kid — it’s almost like insider trading — I’m going to get everything I can get on this kid,” George Whitfield said.
Lee was one of five college quarterbacks who spent last week with Whitfield, who tutored Cam Newton and Andrew Luck before their drafts and has worked privately with Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
“All the elements are there,” Whitfield said of Lee. “He just needs to refine.”
Lee, whose Yellow Jackets begin spring practice Monday, wowed fans in brief stints of his redshirt freshman season. Most notably, he scorched North Carolina in Tech’s 68-50 win with 169 passing yards, 112 rushing yards with two rushing touchdowns and another passing touchdown.
Lee worked with Whitfield on Monday through Thursday, along with Clemson’s Tajh Boyd and Chad Kelly, Cincinnati’s Munchie Legaux and USC’s Max Wittek. Breaking into two- and three-man groups, they spent about 2 1/2 hours in the morning on minute quarterbacking details such as “some small element of footwork,” Whitfield said, or techniques for best escaping the pocket under pressure. In the afternoon, they incorporated the lessons into drills. One, for instance, was dropping passes over the crossbar of a soccer goal to a receiver stationed on the other side of the goal to simulate throwing passes over linebackers.
“I talk about his operating system, from the ground up, just what he’s capable of doing if he engages everything,” Whitfield said. “Driving off the ground, hips, posture, body control, throw the ball all the way through your fingertips.”
Last week, Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray did likewise, spending his spring break in Norman, Okla., where Whitfield was prepping former Sooners quarterback Landry Jones for the draft.
Beyond Lee’s quarterbacking — “he does have a big arm, and he got sharper as (the week) progressed,” Whitfield said — Whitfield seemed equally impressed, if not more, with Lee’s drive and character, starting with the fact that Lee called to see if he could spend the week with him despite the fact that he most likely won’t throw that much in the Tech offense.
“The kid, you could tell how badly he wants to win,” Whitfield said.
Whitfield also noted, for example, that he never heard Lee once give Wittek a hard time about the Jackets’ Sun Bowl win over Wittek’s Trojans, a game in which Wittek performed poorly. Rather, he heard Lee peppering Wittek with questions.
“His sole concern was, ‘What do you guys do in practice?’ ‘What are your individuals periods like?’ ‘How do you do seven-on-seven?’” said Whitfield, before listing a few more questions. “That is why I have so much respect for him.”
He likewise hit Boyd with “1,000 questions” about what awaits him as the Jackets’ likely starter. They hit it off to the degree that they were trying to plan a return in May after the end of the semester.
“I can understand why people down in Atlanta love him,” Whitfield said.