Dick Harmon: San Diego Chargers pick of SUU's Sorensen makes history

Published: Friday, May 3 2013 3:50 p.m. MDT

BYU quarterbacks, left to right, Josh Hamblin, Max Hall and Brad Sorensen throwing the ball during passing and catching drills at BYU football practice Tuesday, August 25, 2009.

Stuart Johnson, Deseret News

One man’s castaway is another man’s pearl.

SUU offensive coordinator Steve Clark was in the Thunderbird football stadium press box working the spring game last Saturday when he heard the crowd cheer. He learned through his earphones that his quarterback Brad Sorensen was a seventh-round pick of the San Diego Chargers.

Sorensen became the first SUU football player ever drafted into the NFL. In other words, he made history.

“He’s a good kid and he deserves it. He worked very hard this past year to get a chance to be drafted and it happened. I’m happy for him,” Clark said.

As it turns out now, BYU had an NFL draft-worthy quarterback in camp back in 2009, the last year Max Hall played. Sorensen returned from an LDS mission to Spain, attended San Bernardino Valley Junior College and then walked on at BYU. It was a time the Cougars were logjammed at quarterback and he redshirted. BYU was anticipating the January 2010 enrollment of freshman Jake Heaps and the return of Jason Munns off a mission.

It became evident to Sorensen that if he wanted to play, his best chance was to leave for a place where the QB room wasn’t so crowded. BYU simply couldn’t create enough reps to see what Sorensen was all about. He was big, strong, had an arm, but was raw and BYU seemed settled on a Nelson-Heaps battle with Lark as the third guy.

He hadn’t played in a game since junior college, where at San Bernardino, he threw for 2,280 yards, 17 touchdowns with three interceptions.

So Sorensen left for Cedar City to play, not sit and wait out the drama in Provo.

“We are so glad he did,” Clark said.

The Chargers picked Sorensen in the seventh round, the No. 221st overall pick after he threw for a school record 9,445 yards and 61 touchdowns in his three-year SUU experience.

At 6-foot-5 and 230 pounds, Sorensen fits the mold of what the NFL likes in a quarterback frame. With the Chargers, he will be fighting for a roster spot behind starter Philip Rivers.

“He has a great, accurate arm and size. He is very strong. I would take Brad Sorensen every year I could have him,” said Clark, a former graduate assistant coach at BYU when John Beck played for the Cougars.

Beck and Sorensen compare very favorably, said Clark. Only Sorensen is bigger. “Both of them can make every throw in the book. They both have very strong arms.”

Sorensen, whose younger brother Daniel is BYU’s starting safety and cousin Justin is a Cougar kicker, played quarterback at a high school that ran a Wing-T offense. He never got individual quarterback coaching for specific skills. He was big and he was strong, but he was in need of coaching attention.

He got that in 2011 with SUU quarterback coach Paul Peterson, a former quarterback at Boston College. It was the first time in his life he had one-on-one attention from an expert in that position.

“This past summer he spent every day working hard, extremely hard,” Clark said.

“He has the best release and accuracy I’ve ever seen.”

Sorensen was the eighth quarterback taken in a draft that yielded 11. The position was disrespected in 2013 when potential first-round pick West Virginia’s Geno Smith, the highest rated QB, was taken in the second round at No. 39 after Florida State’s E.J. Manuel, No. 16 overall in the first round.

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