Matt Sokol, Rochester Adams, will head the Highlander offense from his quarterback position this 2013 season and will then move on to play football at Michigan State next season. (Special to The Oakland Press / LARRY McKEE)
FOOTBALL: Sokol a rare dual-threat on offense for Rochester Adams
ROCHESTER HILLS — This is probably a question that’ll be answered differently each day for Rochester Adams senior football player Matt Sokol.
When his team breaks into position groups near the start of each practice and he goes with the quarterback/wide receivers group, he’ll probably have to ask the following question each day: Will I be throwing or catching passes?
One hand, Sokol played in eight games last season for Adams at quarterback, and figures to be the No. 1 option at the position this year as well.
On the other hand, Sokol will have a future playing college football, but it won’t be at quarterback.
Sokol has committed to Michigan State as a tight end, and it’s a good bet this year’s tight end-starved Spartans wish the 6-foot-5, 230-pound Sokol was starting in East Lansing this year instead of next year.
It’s not that unusual for players to split time at quarterback and running back or wide receiver, since those positions in high school can often go together like peanut butter and jelly.
But quarterback and tight end? It’s more like peanut butter and rubber cement.
However, it speaks to the athletic ability of Sokol, who can play both positions and give opponents something to think about on a weekly basis.
“I think they correlate in a lot of ways,” Sokol said. “I think I’m a very physical quarterback when I play that position. I love playing both and feel very confident in both positions. They are similar in a lot of ways. It’s just being a good ballplayer, securing the ball and making plays.”
In a perfect world, Adams would probably prefer to keep Sokol at tight end. But all that depends on how other quarterbacks develop and whether they can handle the load of being the full-time starter.
The luxury it could give Adams is that it from week to week might allow head coach Tony Patritto and his staff to put Sokol in different positions all over the field, thus causing plenty of confusion for opposing defenses.
“Years ago I remember Troy had a (quarterback) that went to Michigan State and played defensive end,” Patritto said. “It’s not totally not natural. Here our best athletes have always been quarterback like Tony Annese and Alan Guy. We’ve had an opportunity to play guys like that both ways. He fits under that mold. I’m not worried about it.”
Sokol has played quarterback and even some defensive end in his high school career at Adams, but ended up before his junior season last year having a conversation with his parents and Patritto about converting into a tight end.
All seemed to agree that playing that position was his best chance to play college football, since he already had the size, footwork, agility and hands to excel as both a blocker and pass catcher.
The only thing left was producing some highlight film as a tight end, which he played during games last year in his first full year on varsity.
This past offseason, Sokol sent out tapes as a tight end and made the customary tours at various college camps, including Michigan State.
A scholarship offer came from the Spartans in May and he quickly accepted.
“I decided not to go to camps and do all my training as a QB this spring and I’m going to play tight end,” said Sokol, who is also a basketball player. “It all kind of launched itself from there.”
On Friday against Clarkston, Sokol will be one of several future Division I college players on the field, although he’ll be the only one wearing Adams brown and gold. All the others will be on Clarkston, including Sokol’s friend, training partner and future college teammate at MSU, defensive lineman David Beedle.
The game will be a great opportunity for Adams to show that what happened last year, when the Highlanders missed the playoffs for the first time in 15 years, was an aberration and that they can compete with anybody this fall.
“It kept us hungry,” Sokol said. “When the season ended, we all had a team meeting and we all said this is going to be different this offseason. That has really driven us the whole year. There has been training and practicing with a hedge in our shoulder making sure that we don’t have a season like that again.”
During practice earlier this week, Sokol had the presence of somebody hungry for redemption, encouraging his teammates constantly and pushing them through mistakes.
It’s been a theme of the entire offseason, according to Patritto.
“He has matured and worked as any player we have ever had in an offseason,” Patritto said. “He hasn’t missed a workout and he could run all day and not get tired.”
That’s good, given he’ll be seeing plenty of action at two positions.