Vanderbilt offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig talks about Kyle Shurmur’s progress in spring practice.
DESTIN, Fla. — Leighanne Mason was listening to sports talk radio recently and heard the names of several quarterbacks rattled off as top QBs entering the 2018 season.
One name not mentioned was Vanderbilt’s Kyle Shurmur.
“They talked about every quarterback but Kyle,” Derek Mason, Vanderbilt’s fifth-year coach, said at the SEC spring meetings while recounting his wife’s tale. “I think that’s sort of where we are. I’m glad. He’s got a chip on his shoulder. I’ve got one on mine.”
Although Shurmur might not get much hype, anyone who has watched much SEC football the past few years is surely familiar with him.
He enters his senior season with 5,735 passing yards and 30 career starts, including 28 in a row. Only Missouri senior Drew Lock has more starts among active SEC quarterbacks.
Where Kyle Shurmur has improved
Mason said Shurmur has “grown by leaps and bounds” since taking over as the team’s starting quarterback midway through his freshman season.
“I thought two years ago he was slow-footed,” Mason said. “He had a hard time getting through his progressions. What I saw a year ago was a young man who made great strides. Now, this football team is his.”
For the first time since 2014, Mason won’t call Vanderbilt’s defense. He hired Jason Tarver as defensive coordinator and put him in charge of defensive play-calling. That leaves Mason more time to monitor the offense, including Shurmur.
The next step in Shurmur’s development has nothing to do with physical growth, Mason said. It’s knowing and understanding his personnel and how to get the most out of them. Mason worked with Shurmur on that during the spring.
“Guys play for you when they know and understand you know their stories. He’s had to invest more in those guys,” Mason said. “In my opinion, he’s had to invest as much in his teammates as he has himself. I think that’s when it started to click for him. Right now, those dudes love where he is.”
Shurmur will have ‘more on his shoulders’ as a senior
The 6-foot-4, 225-pound Shurmur, who signed with Vanderbilt in 2015 as a four-star prospect from Philadelphia, should hear his name called in next year’s NFL draft. He’s the son of New York Giants coach Pat Shurmur.
Shurmur would become the first Vanderbilt quarterback to be drafted since Jay Cutler went to the Denver Broncos with the 11th overall pick in 2006.
Cutler was around Vanderbilt quite a bit during spring practice and “came away pretty impressed” with Shurmur, Mason said.
“The kid can spin it,” Mason said. “There’s no if, ands or buts.”
Before the pros beckon, Mason intends to put “more on his shoulders” as a senior.
Gone is Ralph Webb, who rushed for 4,173 yards during his Vanderbilt career. That leaves Shurmur as the face of the program.
Shurmur threw eight touchdowns and no interceptions through the first three weeks last season, fueling Vanderbilt’s 3-0 start before the Commodores stumbled and finished 5-7.
Shurmur completed more than 60 percent of his passes in six of 12 games. He ranked sixth in the SEC in passer rating and second in passing yards per game. Nonetheless, Vanderbilt was 11th in the conference in total offense.
“Offensively, we’re going to have to do more,” Mason said. “We’ve got some defensive guys, but right now, we’re a football team that’s really working hard trying to cement who we are. Kyle is our leader, but the rest of these guys have to step up and play.”