Smithfield quarterback Willie Drew saw the opposing cornerbacks cheating toward the line of scrimmage.
His team’s planned quick slant pass suddenly looked less appealing, but he spotted opportunity down the field. Drew called an audible and instead sent Darius Savedge darting into the open grass, then found the senior wide receiver for a touchdown.
The Daily Press Offensive Player of the Year counts his ability to adjust on the fly as one of his greatest strengths.
His adaptability helped him surpass the 1,000-yard mark as both a passer and a rusher. He threw for 1,447 yards and 14 touchdowns, and he ran for 1,154 yards and 18 touchdowns.
The James Madison football signee will play defensive back in college next fall. Drew also started at safety for Smithfield this fall, and he believes his two positions require many of the same skills.
“The two positions, they feed off each other,” Drew said. “When you’re at quarterback, you’re reading the defense. When you’re at safety, you’re reading the offense, the receivers’ route patterns, how they’re going to break off.”
He certainly had success at defensive back as well as quarterback. He finished his senior season with 50 tackles and five interceptions.
Drew has played for the Packers’ varsity team since his freshman season, when he was pulled up for the end of the year.
Before his sophomore year, coach Reggie Chavis joined the program, and Drew credits Chavis with accelerating his development.
“I’ve learned that the way to grow is to listen,” Drew said. “Sometimes you just can’t go out there and play. You have to listen to the coaches and let them critique you.”
After his junior season, Drew started attracting attention from colleges.
He received his first scholarship offer from the University of Virginia in April, then picked up offers from Old Dominion, Coastal Carolina, Temple and more through the summer.
“It was truly a blessing to get offers like I did,” Drew said. “Without football, I’m not me.”
One of the offers came in from JMU, and Drew took an official visit to the school in September. He attended the Dukes’ 52-10 win against East Tennessee State, and by the end of the visit, his college decision was all but made.
He officially committed just before Smithfield’s homecoming game against Warhill on Oct. 6, then proceeded to have his best game of the season. The senior passed for 120 yards and one touchdown and ran for 230 yards and three touchdowns in the 34-7 victory.
“I already was so excited to get there,” Drew said. “The campus, the team, the coaches, it’s meant to be.”
Yanchulis can be reached by phone at 757-298-5176. Follow her on Twitter @KYanchulis.