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More than a spread QB: Arizona’s Foles soaking up NFL-style training

Arizona quarterbacks coach Frank Scelfo with Nick Foles in the spring. Photo by Michael Chow/The Arizona Republic

Arizona quarterbacks coach Frank Scelfo didn’t wait for the question to be finished.

“When spread-offense quarterbacks are done in college …” I began.

” … they don’t translate to the NFL,” Scelfo concluded.

That’s the long-term question about the Wildcats’ Nick Foles as he enters his senior season with wide-ranging projections about his pro prospects.

Foles has done all he could in the offseason to be a great college quarterback. He showed his leadership by organizing the team’s informal workouts. He helped the team rally around its wristbands bearing the messages “All in” and “No looking back.” He learned of food allergies, changed his diet and became noticeably leaner.

The does-he-translate-to-the-NFL question doesn’t have to be answered now. But let’s say this: Scelfo says Foles is receiving the training he needs to convert to a pro-style quarterback in about four months.

“Spread quarterbacks, for the most part, don’t read fronts and coverages,” Scelfo said.

“Our mission here is to develop quarterbacks who go to the NFL. So on top of what we do, we teach fronts and coverage recognition and the footwork that the NFL wants to see. In the offseason, the summer, stuff like that.

“What the NFL wants to see are the characteristics that their game uses, so we have to make sure we teach that also.”

Scelfo, while he was an assistant at Tulane, helped send four quarterbacks into the NFL, so he has ample credibility. He spent 11 years coaching college football in Louisiana before coming to Arizona for the 2010 season.

Foles discovered something about Scelfo’s deep Louisiana ties when he attended the Manning Passing Academy in Thibodaux, La., this summer. Foles served as a camp counselor to eighth-graders and high school players, hung out with more than 30 other Division I quarterbacks and picked the brains of the quarterbacking Manning family, including Peyton and Eli.

“I’ve known the Mannings since Eli was in the eighth grade,” Scelfo said.

“Archie is a good friend. Peyton is a good friend. Those guys have been around. So I ask them a lot of questions. Different strategies, different ideas, different angles.”

When talking football with the Mannings, Foles was eager to learn the strategies of how they broke down game film. He learned that their way of examining plays was pretty much his way of examining plays because of the Scelfo connections.

“They know Coach Scelfo, and it reassured me that how they do things is how we do it,” Foles said.

“I got on the phone with him and said, ‘Man, how Peyton watches film is how we do it.’ And he says, ‘I know. This isn’t my first rodeo, man.’

“I’ve always known, but it made me realize how fortunate I am to play at Arizona with the coaching staff I have.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the third installment of our 24 Hours of Arizona Football Blogging — one post at the top of every hour. Keep checking back at TucsonCitizen.com through Friday at 11 a.m. or follow the entire series with the “24 hours of blogging” tag.

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