The evolution of a quarterback doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a process that runs a different course for every elite arm. For Josh Rosen, who makes his debut as the No. 5 overall prospect in the country in Wednesday’s initial release of the Top247 for the class of 2015, the evolution took roughly three games.
Rosen won the starting job at Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco and thus inherited a supporting cast loaded with talent, led by 2013 USC signee Nico Falah. It was a roster talented enough to win every game it played if its sophomore quarterback could step up to the challenge.
That challenge was something Rosen was anxious to embrace.
“I was nervous, as I am before every game no matter how easy or hard the opponent is,” Rosen said of his first start. “If you don’t think you can do it as a sophomore, you’re not going to be able to do it as a junior or senior. If you don’t think you can do it now, you can’t do it in the future and quarterback isn’t the position for you.”
Rosen’s mettle was tested early on.
During his first drive of the season and on his first pass attempt of the year, Rosen threw a red zone interception. On the season’s second drive, he was knocked out of the game with a concussion. In what might have been a premature arrival back to the field, Rosen didn’t fare much better, throwing for 72 yards on 7 of 14 passing in his second game.
Through two games, Rosen was second on the team in passing to a wide receiver that had connected on an 80-yard double pass for a touchdown.
By game three, the St. John Bosco coaching staff decided to sink or swim with its young quarterback and Rosen threw for over 300 yards and 7 touchdowns in a 61-7 romp.
“I got the feeling I was losing them a little bit in games one and two,” Rosen said of his teammates. “There were jokes going around that my receiver had thrown for more yards than me. After the Santa Fe game, I got the team’s respect from there.”
Quarterback Josh Rosen makes his debut in the Class of 2015 Top247 as a five-star prospect at the No. 5 prospect overall.
That respect only heightened with what came next. In a high-profile matchup against Utah power Jordan High School, Rosen squared off against Austin Kafentzis, the Jordan quarterback that had been named Gatorade National Freshman of the Year in 2011. With 45 seconds left and trailing by 6, Rosen took the snap on fourth down and scrambled to find a teammate in the end zone for a 28-yard game-winning touchdown. It was Rosen’s fourth passing score of the day.
With that, all doubt was removed.
“That was a big relief,” he said of his emergence. “I felt a lot more comfortable in the pocket and when the season grew on I felt more comfortable standing in the pocket. Even now, the game is slowing down and it’s getting easier and easier. I forget linemen are in front of me.”
Rosen has continued to progress this offseason. The 6-3.5, 200-pounder has been a standout in every 7on7 event that has hosted him. 247Sports National Recruiting Director JC Shurburtt wrote this article singing his praises at the Las Vegas NLA 7on7 in March, where he played on Snoop Dogg’s All-Star team. Rosen also was an underclassman star at Friday’s Elite 11 regional and he was one of the top arms at the Los Angeles Nike camp earlier this spring.
Though Rosen looks poised to be one of the most highly-recruited quarterbacks in the country for 2015, he may have been even better at tennis.
Growing up, Rosen’s first sport was tennis and his interest in it went well beyond your typical adolescent whim. He quit all other sports to focus on tennis. He was sponsored by Prince. His summers consisted of being on the court from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
But it wasn’t fun.
“I actually think I was better at tennis than I was at football, I just didn’t really enjoy it,” he said. “Going into the latter years of my short tennis career, I was going to school and trying to put in as many hours as the kids getting home-schooled.”
That experience may have benefited him both physically and mentally in his development on the football field. On the physical side, Rosen’s feet have been the biggest benefactors.
“Everyone made fun of me (in tennis) for my terrible feet because they were all five feet tall and moved like ninjas," he said. "Now when I’m in football, everyone says how great my feet are.”
On the mental side, few sports test you the way tennis can.
“Competition wise, tennis is such a tough game,” he said. “It’s still the hardest sport I’ve ever played to this day.”
As much as that tennis background may have benefited Rosen, so too have his bloodlines. Rosen’s mother was a figure skater and a standout lacrosse player at Princeton. His father attended Penn and was an Olympic-level figure skater himself.
Alongside Josh, both of his sisters are standouts in their own sports. His younger sister’s sport of choice is soccer while his older sister Beatrice Rosen was named conference rookie of the year in her freshman season playing tennis at Emory University in Atlanta.
Rosen’s family back-story makes it clear that academics will play no small role in his college decision and his early top three each features a strong academic reputation, including an early leader.
“Cal is definitely at the top of my list but that’s sort of what the whole recruiting process is for,” he said. “I took my first college visit there and the knew who I was and I saw the school. Probably my first three schools are Cal, Stanford and UCLA but that’s bound to change as I see more.”
Josh Rosen is one of the best quarterback prospects in California and the country for the 2015 cycle. It's a deep cycle on paper both in the Golden State and nationally at that position.
With his recent visit to Berkeley, Sonny Dykes and his new staff have set the bar for Rosen’s future recruiting visits.
“(Offensive coordinator) Tony Franklin was as advertised,” Rosen said. “He’s a great guy, a cool guy. Coach Sonny Dykes, we were on the same page with his vision and where he wants the school heading in the next couple of years.”
With UCLA and Stanford, coaching staff is also playing a big role early on.
“I like UCLA in terms of their coaching staff. What they’ve done with that program is great and it’s a program that is up and coming that schools are taking into consideration when they see them on their schedule.
“Stanford, I’ve been up there and met the coaching staff when Coach Jim Harbaugh was there. I would apply to the school if it had nothing to do with football. The offense is something I may have to get used to but it’s a great school with a great winning percentage and two great quarterbacks in Andrew Luck and John Elway. Plus northern California is awesome.”
Currently, Rosen holds offers from seven programs including Duke, Oregon State, Vanderbilt and Tennessee with dozens more sure to follow. He has been given a numerical rating of 98, which makes him the first prospect to be awarded five-star status by 247Sports for the 2015 cycle. Rosen also will debut as the No. 2 pro-style quarterback prospect in the 2015 class.
“Rosen, a strong-armed righty with more than a handful of verbal offers can make every throw required on the next level. He rips the ball down the field to the sidelines and up the seams with equal accuracy and possesses plus arm power. Rosen, who stands tall in the pocket, does a very good job of making accurate throws with balance and natural weight transfer that hits wide receivers in stride and provides the chance to maximize run after the catch yards. He also features a quick arm, but not necessarily as compact of a action as some others. While he isn't a dual-threat prospect, and shouldn't considered that, he is a pro-style signal caller with the ability to move with body quickness in the pocket, buy time and deliver the ball to second and third reads. As physically gifted as Rosen is, in terms of his arm strength and size combo, he is also sharp with the ability to understand scheme and process. He's more than just a strong right arm." -Gerry Hamilton, National Scouting Director, 247Sports
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