At last weekend's Elite 11 Camp in Berkeley, Calif., Los Gatos, Calif., quarterback Nick Hirschman burst onto the scene with a slimmed-down physique and brand new mechanics.
"It was really a chance for me to show people how much I've changed and how hard I've been working," Hirschman said. "I think I showed off what I can do last weekend. I can compete with all those guys who are ranked, even though I'm not. I thought it went great."
The 6-foot-2, 212-pound pocket passer has certainly earned the attention he received. Hirschman spent his off-season working with quarterback coach Bob Johnson and his son, former NFL quarterback Rob Johnson.
Driving 6 hours each way to work with the Johnsons weekly has paid big dividends. Hirschman has shortened his release and increased his accuracy. Hirschman has also dropped more than 20 pounds from his 2008 playing weight and is quicker on his feet.
"They've really shown me the way," Hirschman said. "It's been such a great experience to work with them."
The improvements have Hirschman more confident and ever and ready to compete for a spot as one of the state's best quarterback prospects this fall.
"It's been a big change from my junior season," Hirschman said. "I don't think I would've been able to compete with those guys. Both my head coach and Bob just got me prepared, so I was ready to go out and compete."
Hirschman has one offer at this point from Harvard, but he said he would prefer to stay on the West Coast, and hopes to hear from more Pac-10 schools.
"My sister went to Yale, so I know about the whole Ivy League thing," Hirschman said. "I received an offer from Harvard, and I met with Coach (Tim) Murphy. He's an awesome guy. I'd love to get the opportunity to play for him, but my first choice would be somewhere around here."
Though he said he talks with Harvard the most, Hirschman has been in contact with a number of Pac-10 powers, including USC, Cal, UCLA and Oregon State. He's also had some conversations with Pitt, Nebraska and Tennessee.
"I'd love to hear from anybody," Hirschman said. "I'd like to hear more from Oregon State. I think that'd be great. I went up there and looked at it, and I fell in love with it – it seemed like a great place to go to school. Also, I've had a few conversations with Nebraska but I'd like to hear more from them."
During his spring break, Hirschman went with his family on a road trip to visit a number of Pac-10 schools. The Hirschmans visited both Arizona schools, both Oregon schools, USC, UCLA and Washington, and he said the chance to check out the campuses and meet several coaches was an invaluable experience.
"I really liked all the schools, but I loved UCLA, USC and Oregon State. Those were my favorite places," Hirschman said.
He'll be plenty busy hitting up camps this summer, as Hirschman is planning on camping at UCLA, USC, Oregon State, Oregon, Stanford, Cal, Arizona State, Harvard and possibly Tennessee.
"They've been talking to me very recently," Hirschman said of the Vols. "I think they have a great program. They've got new coaches coming in and it seems like an exciting place to be."
Hirschman threw for 2,191 yards and 15 touchdowns with a 59 percent completion percentage in 13 games last fall for Los Gatos, who went 10-3.
"What makes me a good quarterback is my toughness, my leadership, my competitive drive on the field and my preparation off the field," he said. "I'm not a mobile quarterback, but I love to get in there and hit people and throw blocks and I love the contact."
Hirschman said not being ranked on Rivals at this point was a source of motivation last weekend. It's quite possible that could change after the weekend he had.
"It's tough to be an unknown, but it gives you the competitiveness to go out there and show people that you are that good and that you are worthy of being ranked," he said. "It gives you motivation to work even harder."