Adam Dingwell is Set to Step into the Spotlight
Aug 28, 2013
SAN DIEGO -
Aztecs QB Adam Dingwell is Set to Step into the Spotlight
By Mick McGrane
When it comes to filmdom's depiction of Texas high school football, Adam Dingwell isn't convinced that Hollywood has its helmet on straight.
"It's probably portrayed to be a little bigger than it is in real life, where you see scenes of a town that is shut down completely on a Friday night," Dingwell said. "You do get big crowds and there's no question that it's the sport in Texas, but not all of it is what you see in the movies."
Not that a starving script writer couldn't flesh out a fair amount of feel-good from the Adam Dingwell Story.
A safety-turned-tight end whose only hurdle to becoming the starting quarterback at Rockwall (Texas) High School was unseating the coach's son, Dingwell had been recruited by former San Diego State coach Brady Hoke assistant Darrell Funk prior to his junior season. Though he never played a down for Hoke, redshirting his freshman season, Dingwell clearly had an admirer in his head coach.
"Brady always used to say, `I think there's something special about this guy,' " said Aztecs quarterback coach Brian Sipe. "When he was running the scout team as a freshman, there wasn't a practice where he didn't have those guys fired up. I think it's just something he was born with."
And something he'll now have ample opportunity to prove.
No longer honing his skills as clipboard carrier extraordinaire, Dingwell now holds the reins of a football program that finds itself in the midst of some very heady times. Having strung together three straight winning seasons for the first time since 1975-77, SDSU enters 2013 having participated in an unprecedented three straight bowl games and as defending champion of the Mountain West.
Dingwell's role in the latter accomplishment, never achieved in the Aztecs' previous 13 seasons in the league, was as dramatic as it was defining. A player whose career stats could have comfortably been penned on a postage stamp, he had thrown all of three passes (completing one) before taking over for injured starter Ryan Katz in Week 8 at Nevada.
If there was fear in Dingwell's face, it went unnoticed by senior left tackle Bryce Quigley, who became roommates with Dingwell last season.
"When he came into that game, he was ready to go," Quigley said. "He may have been a little nervous in his own mind, but he didn't show it in the huddle at all. He just really took control of the game.
"He has great confidence in himself and great confidence in the guys around him. It's contagious."
Entering the game with 6:12 left in the first quarter, Dingwell threw incompletions on four of his first six attempts as Nevada built a 10-6 lead at the half. The Aztecs trailed 24-14 entering the fourth quarter, with Dingwell having completed 4-of-9 passes.
Over the course of the final 15 minutes, however, Dingwell refused to go down. By the time Chance Marden delivered a 35-yard field goal to tie the game 31-31 with no time left in regulation, Dingwell had thrown two fourth-quarter touchdown passes, completing 8-of-15 attempts for 125 yards.
The Aztecs won on their first possession in overtime when Dingwell hit tight end Gavin Escobar with a 21-yard scoring pass before floating a 2-point conversion pass into the arms of fullback Adam Roberts.
"He's unflappable, and that's a very important quality in a quarterback when things aren't going right," Sipe said. "I like to say that a quarterback's job is to manage crises, and he's very well-suited for that. For anybody that had any doubts, he won everybody over big time in that game at Nevada.
"But he was also stellar in our win at Boise State. That was the loudest stadium I've ever been in in my life, and I've played in a lot of them. He had to manage that offense with all that distraction and he did it beautifully."
Not that Dingwell's former high school coach, Scott Smith, was overly surprised. Smith's son, Braden Smith, who went on to play at SMU, preceded Dingwell as the starting quarterback at Rockwall High.
"He's just a very tough, hard-nosed kid who is a great competitor," said Scott Smith, now the associate head coach and offensive coordinator at Houston Baptist University, a program in its first year of existence. "The game has always been important to him. And regardless of the shape of the ball, because he's a heck of a baseball player, too, he was always going to compete to win.
"He expects to be successful and he's a team guy. There's no arrogance with Adam. He's has that great leadership trait of being a field general, but he's also very gifted athletically."
While Aztec coaches want to see Dingwell improve his completion percentage (57.2 percent in 2012 with eight touchdowns vs. seven interceptions), none questions his ability to guide a team that enters 2013 having won seven straight regular-season games, its longest such streak in 32 years. Having started the last five games of 2012, a period where he was employed as the team's sole quarterback for the final 403 snaps of the season, Dingwell is aware that his time has arrived.
"As a kid, this is what you practice in the back yard, dreaming of being that hero or that star," he said. "But I don't think of it that way. I think of this as being a great opportunity. I'm truly blessed to be here and be able to start for this program. It's a great honor. San Diego State has had some great quarterbacks in the past with such a long line of history, and I'm just excited to have the opportunity to take this team to the next level.
"We really have a great opportunity in front of us to win a 20th (school) championship. We have a chance to be a heck of a good football team. You can just sense it. Everybody's excited and getting antsy to get out there and play that first game."
In Hollywood, it's known as a premiere. Adam Dingwell has already passed the screen test.