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‘I’m Very Confident’: Penn State QB Drew Allar’s Private QB Coach Talks With NSN

Photo by Eddie Provident, Nittany Sports Now: Drew Allar

It seems like Brad Maendler is well on his way to becoming one of Penn State football’s unsung heroes.

He didn’t play at Penn State and has never been on the coaching staff.

But Maendler, the owner of QB Excelerate, a respected training ground for the position based in Ohio, has played a big role in the life of a 19-year-old who’s already a pretty big deal to Penn State fans. 

“He changed the whole way I threw,” Drew Allar told reporters at Penn State’s media day earlier this month.

Allar then pointed out the differences in his throwing style over his years at Medina High School.

“You could look at my sophomore highlight film in high school,” he said. “It’s completely different from my junior year and then my junior year is completely different from my senior year as far as throwing mechanics. So, I think, from that standpoint, he’s helped me a ton.” 

Maendler helped Allar grow from a kid who people told should play tight end or defensive end to a five-star quarterback, so he knew all about Allar before his recruiting blew up. 

With that, he remembers what Allar looked like before becoming a household name.

“He was like a baby doe,” Maendler told Nittany Sports Now. “He had this big body, where he didn’t really have full control over it. Big feet, long limbs, and that was one of the amazing things that happened from January 2020 through August 2020 is not only the transformation of his throwing mechanics but how his body came together is like the most amazing thing I’ve seen.”

Maendler’s continued to work with Allar and watched him grow both physically and mentally throughout his more than a year and a half at Penn State.

He’s seen a difference in how Allar communicates with his teammates.

“He’s almost borderline shy… he is shy, I shouldn’t say borderline. And he’s very much an ‘I let my actions and my play speak for me,'”

“But every time I see him now, the interactions with his teammates, the command that he has in the huddle, that has been the biggest thing,” Maendler said. “He’s allowing the team to see his personality now and he’s very likable. 

Maendler sees Allar’s humility as a key trait. 

“He doesn’t feel like he’s better than anybody,” Maendler said. “It really goes a long way rationally with teammates. So, honestly, I think that’s been the No. 1 thing.”

This summer, Maendler– who’s also been working with Penn State’s 2024 QB commit, four-star Ethan Grunkemeyer (Olentangy High School)– and Allar worked on specific “focus areas” that Maendler elaborated on to NSN.

“The amount of load that he’s able to create on his back leg and back hip through his front foot strike,” Maendler told NSN. “So this is a way to create some real excellent and violent hip turn. Like a lot of kids who are too antsy to get their weight transferred to their front foot, he missed his opportunity to really load that back leg, much like a baseball hitter does, so that you can rotate with much more ‘violence’ is the way that I talk about it. 

So how does Allar make everything look?

“For a kid like that, what he can do, it looks darn near effortless,” Maendler said. “Like he can make any ball… when you start seeing quarterbacks throw hard with their arm, usually their efficiency is going to take a hit. That’s why we want to use the hips and sequencing as our power generator. And when he gets in that mode, the ball just comes out so good, man,” he said with a chuckle. 

Although coach James Franklin hasn’t made it official yet– and might not before Saturday– it’s almost a guarantee that Allar will make his first college start in Penn State’s season opener against West Virginia under the Beaver Stadium lights with kickoff scheduled for 7:30 on NBC.

Maendler cited some of the things everybody loves about Allar.

His 6-foot-5, 243-pound build was one. 

His big arm was another, and Maendler mentioned one NFL quarterback comp that’s common for Allar early on: Buffalo Bills’ star Josh Allen. 

Maendler also talked about Allar’s love of football’s behind-the-scenes aspect.

“He’s a film junkie,” Maendler said, “so he just watches a lot of film. Whether it’s Penn State or NFL offenses, and his feel for fronts and coverages and space and anticipation, and just like his natural processing speed, is really, really good.” 

“He has all this physical talent, but I think what makes him special is his drive and his natural processing abilities. Like, he just… I’ve seen this in the kids I’ve had. Some people just understand space and what is going to open up in that half-a-second to three and a half seconds that oftentimes pass plays take. The bullets are flying, there’s pressure, elements, the whole thing. You have to be able to make really good decisions, or the offense isn’t going to be able to move the ball.”

Maendler feels that there are QBs, even at the highest level, who don’t see quarterback as a “lifestyle.”

Not Allar. 

“The guys who really grind and just understand the playbook, front and back, understand what defenses are trying to do, trying to grind out film so they can really slow the game down for themselves and get clues more quickly about what the defense is trying to do, both presnap and post-snap,” Maendler said. “That’s what he does.”

All of this stuff has made Allar arguably Penn State’s most-hyped recruit in at least a decade when fellow five-star QB Christian Hackenberg came to Happy Valley. 

That alone places a lot of pressure on the teenager. 

But the team Allar will be leading is coming off a Rose Bowl win, ranks No. 7 in the preseason AP Poll and is expected by many to contend for the Big Ten title and a berth in the College Football Playoff, the latter of which Penn State’s never achieved. 

That’s a lot for most people to handle. 

So how does Maendler, who knows Allar better than most, expect the kid to deal with it all?

“Drew is the kind of kid who is never too high, never too low, just very even-keel about the way he does things,” he said. 

“Now he is firey,” Maendler said. “He just does a really good job of sort of managing his emotions. But, make no mistake, that dude’s firey.”

Maendler expects Allar to deal with the pressure by being “uber-prepared.” 

“And he has an excellent grasp of the offense,” Maendler said.

Maendelr doesn’t expect Allar to be perfect the way some people seem to be.

He knows there will be mishaps, but he feels Allar has the physical and mental capabilities to grow from those mishaps and not be sunk by them.

“Is he going to make mistakes this year? Yes,” he said. “Are mistakes going to send him to a bad place? Absolutely not. Uber confident. Uber prepared. And he has a natural playmaking talent that you really don’t see until things go south. I’ve seen it. I’ve seen it a lot. So I’m very confident in how he’s going to handle this.”

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