December 27th, 2013

Stein 'invaluable' as Cards graduate assistant


Ed Peak

Staff Writer

Stein 'invaluable' as Cards graduate assistant
“I'm here to kind of groom the quarterbacks," Will Stein said

If you see former University of Louisville and Trinity High quarterback Will Stein waving his arms sending signals from the sideline during football games, don't be alarmed. He's not trying to get the attention of his family and friends in the stands. And he's not trying to get on television.

Stein has remained a fixture on the Cardinals’ sideline as an offensive graduate assistant coach. One of Stein's duties on game days is signaling plays from offensive coordinator Shawn Watson to quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.

Watson said Stein provides another set of eyes on the field. Since he's played the position in Watson's system, the switch from player to coach has been invaluable to the staff.

“He's my line of communication to the quarterback,” Watson said. “He brings a perspective as a coach and a former player.

“He and I and Teddy are all tied together at the hip. We see things the same.”

During his first season as a coach, Stein is pursuing a master’s degree in business administration. During the fall semester he had classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Add in study time and it makes for some long days.

As night fell on the Howard Schnellenberger Complex recently, Stein left practice to take a final exam as the Cardinals were preparing for Saturday’s game against the University of Miami in the Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando, Fla.

“He's had to learn to budget his time, manage time,” Watson said. "When we were planning on Mondays, that's when he studied and got to work on school.”

Stein said he has always dreamed of becoming a coach. He added that he had another opportunity elsewhere but decided to stay with the Cardinals.

“Everything has worked out perfectly,” he said. “I'm here to kind of groom the quarterbacks. Of course all (graduate assistants) do all the grunt work.”

Stein watches hours of video, makes notes and records what he sees about opponents and quarterbacks in a computer data base.

Watson said the grad assistants sometimes put in more time than the other assistants.

“Their hours are beyond our hours many times,” Watson said. “They are the people behind us.”

An injury Stein suffered against Kentucky in 2011 got Bridgewater on the field as a true freshman and Bridgewater has started every game since except the Rutgers game two years ago, when he was hurt.

Some players would have been jealous, but Stein didn't flinch. He has continued a close relationship with Bridgewater.

“He's been huge in Teddy's development,” said Watson. “First, in getting him acquainted with college football and the overall system in how to work and play in it.”

Stein, an undersized for a college quarterback at 5 feet 10 and 185 pounds, threw for 629 yards and five touchdowns as a senior. While at Trinity he helped the Shamrocks to a state title, completing 70.8 percent of his passes and throwing  a school record 54 touchdowns.

He has several favorite plays and memories as a player.

Among them is “when I threw my first touchdown pass at Rutgers (in 2010) … (which) allowed us to go to a bowl game.”

“Then the Rutgers game (last season), when we won the Big East and went to the Sugar Bowl,” he added. “I had a lot of good memories even with Coach (Steve) Kragthorpe. My first start here. My time here has been great and I'm happy to continue it.”

Watson said Stein can remain on the staff for three years, after which he figures to be in line to get a coaching job somewhere else.

“He's a definite coach. He's got it in his blood,” Watson said. “He knows how to coach his position. He'll be a star in his profession. He's invaluable to me.”

Stein said he follows Trinity and speaks with coach Bob Beatty a couple of times per month. Stein says he's even worked some summer camps at Trinity.

With the possibility of Bridgewater leaving U of L early for the NFL after this season, Stein will have to help the Cards prepare another quarterback, such as Will Gardner or Kyle Bolin. Whoever it is, Stein will be the first line of communication on and off the field.


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