The University of Georgia plays its home football games at Sanford Stadium on a field referred to as “Between the Hedges” because of the shrubbery that surrounds it.
Berkeley quarterback Darius Douglas has his own version of “between the hedges” and has used the shrubbery in his own yard to perfect his throwing skills.
Douglas can often be seen throwing footballs in his front yard. But with no receivers to throw to, Douglas has learned to adapt. He works on his footwork and accuracy by maneuvering through a row of hedges, as if they were defenders, before delivering pass after pass towards a stand-alone tree. Hitting the tree translates into a completion. And, with only one football, Douglas has to retrieve every throw, walk back into position, and then repeat the process.
“I’ve been doing it forever,” Douglas said. “When I was younger and my brother would be at practice, I would just go out there by myself and practice throwing. I guess I knew back then that I wanted to be a quarterback. It really does help me a lot. I do it all during the offseason and in the summer.”
Douglas, a 6-1, 170-pound junior, is in his first season as the starting quarterback at Berkeley. Head coach Jeff Cruce identified his young prospect’s skills early and totally revamped Berkeley’s offense for the 2015 season. The Stags operate out of a spread, no-huddle offense that seems to suit Douglas’ skills as a passer and runner.
“We decided to go to this offense because of Darius and his skill set,” Cruce said this week. “He’s very athletic and he’s a very good passer. He’s also a really smart kid and we knew he could handle this.”
Heading into Friday night’s game against Orangeburg-Wilkinson, Douglas has passed for more than 1,600 yards while adding more than 500 yards on the ground. He has accounted for 21 touchdowns.
As he gets more comfortable with the offense, Douglas produces even more. He says the pace of the offense is not a problem for him. The mental aspects of the position and execution is more difficult.
“It definitely requires me to stay really focused and to know what to do,” Douglas said. “I love our offense. I have to be quick in my thinking, but it’s not as hard as it looks. Coach trusts me enough to run it so I feel like I have to work extra hard to be ready on every play. He always tells me to manage the chaos. That’s my job.”
Berkeley is off to a 2-4 start, but the offense is averaging nearly 40 points per game. Most of the struggles have been on the defensive side of the ball. In a 73-52 loss to Hilton Head on Monday night, Berkeley rolled up 603 yards in total offense. Douglas accounted for more than 350 yards.
Douglas is hoping to develop into a college prospect and is constantly working on little things to improve his overall game.
“I always work on my touch and staying comfortable in the pocket,” he said. “I know I have the potential, but I also know I have to keep working on the little things to be the type of player I want to be.”
Sounds like those hedges will be getting plenty of work over the next year.