The Class of 2014 is getting a little bit jealous of our great series of film reviews for the verbal commits of the Class of 2015, so we wanted to make both parties happy. So without further ado folks, meet Will Ulmer. The dual-threat quarterback and DC native signed on National Signing Day and contributed to the 44th overall national rank according to 247sports.
Ulmer was tagged as a three star recruit by 247sports although he was considered as a high three by the composite standards. The St. John's College graduate is the 12th best dual-threat quarterback in his class. He chose to suit up for the Terps over 25 college programs including former foes Florida State and future foes Michigan State and Wisconsin.
In his junior season Ulmer posted remarkable stats, running for 1,412 yards and 15 touchdowns and throwing for 1,245 and 10 touchdowns. He is considered a three-star prospect by the 247sports composite, ranking as the 12th-best dual-threat quarterback in the class and the third-best player in the District.
Maryland fans, get ready for some mouthwatering highlights from the playmaker.
The first thing everyone should notice is his breakaway speed. Ulmer was clocked at running a 4.31 40-yard dash. To put that into perspective, flashy Stefon Diggs ran a 4.45 40 in his senior year of high school.
His downfield vision is key and he typically finds the right gaps to split when reading the zone. I really liked his ability to find the sideline and understand when the play is over; quarterbacks get injured all too much while trying to make something happen out of nothing.
His cuts and lateral quickness were dominant and it’s not like he was playing against bad competition. St. John’s plays in the WCAC (Washington Catholic Athletic Conference), which is widely viewed as the most competitive athletic conference in the Washington D.C., metropolitan area.
The tag on Ulmer as "dual-threat quarterback" is a little hazy to say the least. He seems to be strictly a running quarterback who too often tucks the ball away and runs before giving his wide-outs a chance to get separation. In the film he ran on 27 plays while only passing on 18. However, this number is a spike up from his junior year game highlights, in which Ulmer was almost strictly a runner.
The thing that scares me about the 6’1, 190 pound quarterback is his arm strength. Although he passed on 18 plays, most of the passes were soft, short passes no longer than 10 yards. And the passes that he really reached back for and threw down field were often under-thrown (still catchable though).
Learning under CJ Brown could be very valuable. Brown, entering his sixth season at quarterback, possesses the experience and leadership to show Ulmer a thing or two about the quarterback position. And with Brown considered a dual-threat quarterback as well, he can teach Ulmer about reads and when it's appropriate to throw versus tuck and run.
I wish the video included more decision-making on Ulmer’s part. I would have liked to see a few read-option plays where Ulmer handed it off to the back, making a smart decision in his read.
I expect to see Ulmer redshirt his freshman year and compete for a starting or backup job his first season in uniform. If for some reason Ulmer never develops a decent passing game, he would likely change positions and play wide receiver, being used as a screen option or even a deep ball threat.
Although Ulmer is adamantly set on being the quarterback of the future for Maryland, his speed and lack of arm strength may open doors for him to assist the offense in other ways. St. John’s head coach Joe Patterson often created offensive packages to utilize Ulmer’s athleticism, running him in the slot or placing him at tailback.
Moving Ulmer in the slot position to catch quick slants or screens could yield explosive results, seeing his escapability from pressure. And who knows, maybe the Terps can line him up out wide for the occasional deep ball, much like they did for Darrius Heyward-Bey from 2006-2008. Ulmer’s flexibility adds value to Maryland, giving coordinators an opportunity to draw up creative plays to embarrass the defense.
Ulmer could also be suited as a running back or defensive back considering his experience reading defenses in certain coverages. My main concern stemming from him playing tailback would be his inability to run through the tackles down field. Ulmer wouldn’t capitalize on the holes that the highly touted, offensive lineman Damian Prince creates for him. His preference is to run sideline to sideline instead of toward the pylons, which is worrisome considering the speed that Big Ten DEs and OLBs possess. As a defensive back, his tackling ability is an unknown quantity, but he certainly has the speed to play corner.
Auburn’s Nick Marshall is the player that strikes me as most similar to Ulmer. Marshall led Auburn to the BCS National Championship game last year, almost purely on his rushing skill (and a little bit of luck). In a three-game stretch during the season, Marshall threw just 16 times yet ran for over 350 yards. If the Terps can develop Ulmer into a player as threatening and electric as Marshall, the program is looking at a bright future.