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Coaches Smith and Lindgren May Finally Get Their Quarterback of the Future In Ben Gulbranson

Though early signing day is still over 200 days away.

NCAA Football: Washington State at Oregon State Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

Spencer Petras.

Hank Bachmeier.

Paul Piferi.

All three of these quarterback recruits passed on the Beavers to sign at Iowa, Boise State, and Purdue, respectively.

Finally, Head Coach Jonathan Smith and Offensive Coordinator Brian Lindgren get a guy to commit, and he looks like he’ll be a good fit. That is if they can keep him on the line until early signing day on December 18th.

Maybe I’m being too harsh. Petras originally committed to the Beavers when Gary Andersen was the head coach. When things went south with the Andersen era and Smith came in, the young quarterback from Kentfield, California, remained committed until a visit to Iowa eventually got him to flip just prior to signing day. Then in Smith’s last recruiting cycle, which was his first true whole one, he missed out on Bachmeier and Piferi, him and Lindgren’s primary targets at the quarterback position.

Fortunately for the Beavers, reinforcements came early in the 2018 season in the form of Tristan Gebbia. Smith apparently had a connection with Gebbia as he recruited in high school as an offensive coordinator at Washington, but he committed to Mike Riley’s Nebraska team out of high school before electing to transfer, so he’ll have just three years to make an impact.

Back to Gulbranson, as a sophomore he completed 150 of 239 passes (63%) for 2556, 32 touchdowns, and just three interceptions for Newbury Park’s junior varsity team. The offensive coordinator for Newbury Park admitted in article for 247sports.com that the young quarterback could have led the varsity team as an underclassman, but that squad already had a star thrower in Cameron Rising who went on to Texas and now is at Utah. Between his JV season, some spot duty on varsity, and spring camps, there was enough to catch the eyes of football programs and at the end of the school year. Gulbranson eventually committed to California in June of 2018, only to decommit eight months later.

During his junior year, Gulbranson hurt his knee in the season’s second game and missed significant time. This ultimately led to an shortened season that resulted in just 712 passing yards, seven touchdowns, and five interceptions. Despite that, his offer list is still composed of three other Power Five schools in Cal, Arizona State, and Kansas State. Hopefully the offseason has allowed him to get healthy and bounce back for a big senior year.

I’m excited that Smith and Lindgren were able to snag a commitment from a kid that seems to have they skill set they’re looking for. He’s got size at 6’3’’ and 220 pounds. His arm strength is solid (check out the second clip in his sophomore highlights where he throws a 50-plus yard bomb). And he’s got fair mobility when it comes to Beaver quarterback standards; not going to outrun any defenses, but he won’t be a statue.

Is Gulbranson going to come in as a freshman and take over the reigns? Nope, or at least I hope we don’t end up in a spot that desperate. But I think if he’s given the time to be molded by Smith and Lindgren, provided the weapons like recent commit Zeriah Beason, and protected by decent linemen, he’ll be in good shape to do great things.