Recruiting databases have him listed as an “athlete” and not a “quarterback” because, well, he hasn’t played the position much, at least not in game situations.
But make no mistake: Luke McCaffrey is a quarterback and he’s looking forward to showcasing what he can do behind center for his senior season, the first time he’ll be a full-time starter, at Valor Christian (Colo.) High School.
“Just playing my game, really,” McCaffrey, a 2019 Nebraska commit, told Land of 10. “Overall, I don’t think it’s too different from what I’ve done in the past.”
When McCaffrey was a sophomore, the youngest of the football-centric family sat behind older brother Dylan, who was a senior then and now is preparing for his redshirt freshman season at Michigan. In 2017, McCaffrey took a back seat at Valor Christian to incoming Colorado freshman Blake Stenstrom.
With established presences ahead of him on the depth chart, the 4-star athlete primarily played running back — just like another older brother, Christian McCaffrey of the Carolina Panthers. Luke rushed for 548 yards on 80 carries for 9 touchdowns in his junior season, according to MaxPreps.com. When he played quarterback, McCaffrey tossed 6 touchdowns with 3 interceptions, completing 54 of 71 attempts for 878 yards.
According to the 247Sports composite, the 6-foot-2, 180-pound recruit is the 18th-ranked athlete and No. 262 overall prospect in the class.
“I like to describe myself as versatile,” McCaffrey said. “I can run, pass and no matter what the defense is doing, there’s a way to combat it. Just a hard worker who really wants to win.”
This offseason, McCaffrey was busy in the film room, he said. Identifying opposing defenses has become an emphasis. The goal is to play fast and without much thinking about his mechanics, which is something that will be vital when he enters the Huskers’ system.
“Being able to just fully function and not think about my form, where I can just go freely and think with my mind,” McCaffrey said of his preparation for his senior season.
“Especially this summer, I’m working on just how to ID defenses, make audibles and checks for however [the defense] is lined up so that there’s always a right answer.”
Even when McCaffrey told the Nebraska staff he was committing, coach Scott Frost and quarterbacks coach Mario Verduzco told him to concentrate on the short term and how having a successful senior season will only help him when he gets to Lincoln.
“They were excited,” McCaffrey recalled. “They really wanted me to focus on what’s going to happen this year. I’ll be all-out. I think they’re really excited to have that done and finish a little bit of their recruiting.”
Playing in Nebraska’s offense was one of the factors that sold him on the Huskers. The goals align closely with how McCaffrey likes to attack the game — being unpredictable and beating the defense through constant adjustments with tempo.
“That’s something very intriguing, too, I think,” he said of Nebraska’s offense. “What they’re trying to do offensively, spreading the game out and really having a quick, fast-paced offense is very exciting. The word I like to use is ‘electric’ and I’m really excited for that.”
Just talking about football with his future coaches has McCaffrey eager to settle in Lincoln.
“I can’t wait to get there,” he said. “I think the way they both look at the game, especially Coach Verduzco — just going so deep into some details about the quarterback position — is really intriguing. I can’t wait to get out there.”
But first, he has a senior season to prepare for and then complete, he hopes, with a state title. Making the upcoming campaign even more special is that his father, former NFL wide receiver Ed McCaffrey, will be in his first season as head coach. McCaffrey said he’ll relish the opportunity to play for his dad.
“I think he’ll really help what’s going on and help our culture a little bit,” he said. “I’m looking forward to just coming together as a team. I think he’s bringing the culture that we really need, just helping us to work hard and accomplish our goals.”