George Drinnin Sr. has coached thousands of high school football players over his 41-year career.
He’s seen them in all shapes and sizes and at all ability levels. There’s one thing he hadn’t done until recently.
“I’ve never actually looked up at a player before,” Drinnin told the Journal Star this week.
That might only be the slightest of exaggerations, but suffice it to say Drinnin, the former Omaha Northwest head coach and current offensive line coach at Elkhorn South, has seen very few players like Teddy Prochazka, his 6-foot-9, 285-pound left tackle and a recent addition to Nebraska’s budding 2021 recruiting class.
“As he’s put on quality weight and become even more explosive — and he’s always been very aggressive — it’s been nice to see the growth in his game,” Elkhorn South head coach Guy Rosenberg said. “He’s just a big athlete. Sometimes you have guys that are tall, but they’re not flexible. Or they’re big but they’re carrying bad weight or can’t move.
“He just checks all the boxes in terms of having the height, the flexibility, the athleticism to move, the weight room strength, the explosiveness and the ability to redirect and the aggressiveness.”
Prochazka saw his recruiting profile take off over the spring and summer after he spent all of his sophomore season starting at left tackle for ESHS and proving himself to be an athletic young player. But he told his coaches he doesn’t want to be known as “just the tall kid.”
It’s safe to say that’s not a problem.
Prochazka is rated a four-star prospect by the Rivals and the 247Sports Composite and a three-star according to 247Sports. The composite ranking pegs him as the No. 199 player overall in the country for the 2021 class while Rivals has him at the lofty position of No. 55 regardless of position. That makes him one of the nine best offensive tackle prospects in the country for his class.
And college coaches noticed. Michigan and Northwestern offered scholarships. Arizona State’s coaching staff saw him work out at the national Adidas “Pipeline” lineman camp at Memorial Stadium this summer and offered him on the spot. Several other regional schools followed.
Prochazka did his due diligence, Rosenberg said, including a late July trip to Northwestern. In the end, though, he pledged to Nebraska just before the Huskers kicked off against Ohio State on Sept. 28. He told the coaching staff on the sideline and celebrated with inside linebackers coach Barrett Ruud, head coach Scott Frost and many others.
Prochazka gives Nebraska a nationally coveted tackle prospect in three consecutive recruiting classes, following fellow 6-9 behemoth Bryce Benhart, now a freshman at NU, and 6-6, 290-pound 2020 verbal pledge Turner Corcoran (Lawrence, Kansas).
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“He’s a positive leader and I think it says a lot about Teddy and his teammates that he’s received all of this attention, but his teammates are happy for him because he’s always been willing to do the dirty work and put the team first,” Rosenberg said.
With a season-plus of high school ball still ahead, Drinnin said he’s seen Prochazka take big strides across the board this fall. One tweak that helped: With the help of some advice from college coaches, Drinnin and ESHS decided to let Prochazka play out of a two-point stance rather than a three-point.
“I think it allows him to be a lot more comfortable,” Drinnin said. … “He’s gifted with having long arms and long legs. Along with his long arms and legs, he’s really developing some good strength. I guess the main thing about him is he’s developed a real good understanding of offensive line play in terms of footwork, hand placement, pass protection.
“I think he really prides himself on his quick feet and his hand placement.”
Not only is he using that frame well as a tackle, but he’s playing defense, too, and Rosenberg said he’s turned himself into a game-altering player on that side of the ball.
“Teddy’s already expanded his game this year, not only on the offensive side of the ball of performing all the different tasks an offensive tackle needs to perform at a higher level than he did last year, but up until this year he’d never played defense at the high school level.
“He can really run. You can see that some when he’s pulling on the offensive side of the ball, but just his ability to run, his ability to cover distance ... and of course when you have a 6-9 player on defense, he’s not just hard to move off the point of attack, but he also really alters angles in the passing game.”
Prochazka even intercepted a pass to the flat earlier this season, reaching high into the air and then returning it 25 yards down to the 4-yard line against Millard North and nearly logging a touchdown.
“He was campaigning for a little while after that to play some tight end, and I’m sure he could,” Rosenberg said. “He’s one of those guys you could put at any position and he’d be an excellent player.”