06 Apr Fitzgerald hopes to become next NFL quarterback from Georgia
Georgia has produced a couple of quality NFL quarterbacks recently in Cam Newton (Westlake High) and Deshaun Watson (Gainesville), who are starring in the league for Carolina and Houston, respectively.
In the coming draft, former Mississippi State quarterback Nick Fitzgerald is an NFL draft prospect from Richmond Hill, which is about 20 miles southwest of Savannah.The NFL draft is set for April 25-27 in Nashville. In the coming years, Georgia’s Jake Fromm and Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence will go through the NFL draft process.Fitzgerald, who was unheralded coming out of high school, went on to have a productive career as a three-year starter for the Bulldogs and is attracting interests from NFL teams.
“Most of the teams that I’ve talked to told me that they want me as a quarterback and that’s it,” Fitzgerald told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution via phone Thursday. “I’m really excited about that because I think that’s the position I should be playing as well. Some have kind of mentioned playing quarterback, but also maybe doing some special teams or something like that. That’s just an easier way for me to get on an active roster.”
Fitzgerald, who’s 6-foot-5 and 230 pounds, completed 511 of 942 passes (54.2 percent) for 6,207 yards. He threw 55 touchdown passes and had 30 interceptions.He rushed for more than 1,000 yards in two seasons as he finished with 3,504 yards rushing on 581 carries and scored 45 touchdowns on the ground.
“They all think that I have great size,” Fitzgerald said. “So, I pass the eye test. I have an extremely strong arm. I think I have a talented arm. I just have to work on my consistency with it.”Fitzgerald is still a diamond in the rough. He didn’t play quarterback until he was a senior in high school and he played in a triple-option attack. “He has all of the measurables,” said his cousin Charles Pledger, who played at Georgia (1990-94) and has been a mentor and adviser to Fitzgerald. “You look at a Jake Fromm, a lot of these quarterbacks around the SEC, they’ve been dealing with quarterback coaches since they were kids in middle school.“Nick didn’t play quarterback until his senior year in high school. He started three years at Mississippi State. He’s a raw talent. Obviously, he’s proven that he’s athletic, and I think the best football is ahead of him.”Fitzgerald participated in the scouting combine.“I’ve been working out on my own,” Fitzgerald said. “I’ve really enjoyed the whole process. I had a good showing at the combine. I had a good showing at my pro day. I just kind of been enjoying the freedom of not having to work out all day.”
In 2015, Fitzgerald backed up Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott at Mississippi State. “My career at Mississippi State was definitely one with a lot of memories in it,” Fitzgerald said. “A lot of good ones, but some bad ones, too.”When Dan Mullen left to take the Florida job after the 2017 season, the Bulldogs fortunes begin to dip.“Throughout my career I had some high points and a couple of low points,” Fitzgerald said. “I think that everybody has those, but I wouldn’t change anything about my college career…I’m definitely ready to move on to the next level.”Fitzgerald believes that with some more polish, he can become a fine NFL passer. “My accuracy wasn’t always there, but I had a lot of passing yards and success through the air throughout my career,”
Fitzgerald said. “I still have a very high ceiling. I have a lot of things to get better at. It’s only going to increase my skill level and therefore increase my productivity.” Fitzgerald has some pocket awareness and ability to escape from pass rushers. “They are going to be impressed with how I extend plays and get out of the pocket,” Fitzgerald said. “Break a tackle if I have to.”Teams what to know what Fitzgerald was able to learn from Prescott.“While we were in college together I learned a lot from him,” Fitzgerald said. “He was always happy to help and explain something within the offense if I needed it. Then he graduated and went on to do this own thing. I tried to use what I learned from him and continued on being myself.”
By D. Orlando Ledbetter,
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution