Father Judge football player Brandon Spatz made varsity as a sophomore with his exceptional play on both sides of the ball. Although he saw limited time with the varsity squad, he plans to start for the Crusaders this year, and his trip last week to Football University’s Top Gun football camp in Williamsburg, Va., will only help his case.
The Top Gun football camp is an all-star camp for 1,000 of the best prep athletes from across the country. With the athletes trained by current and former NFL players and coaches, Top Gun is regarded as the nation’s most prestigious football camp, boasting some of the best college recruits in recent years.
The players were chosen because of outstanding performances at their local Football University camp, a program that visits cities across the country to help develop and enhance the playmaking ability and skill of elite-level athletes in sixth to 11th grade.
So why was Spatz chosen for a camp led by trainers “who have privately trained and mentored players such as Drew Brees, Matt Ryan, Eli Manning and Tony Romo,” according to a Top Gun press release.
His sophomore-year numbers do all the talking.
As a JV starter, Spatz was unstoppable while dominating on both sides of the ball as a wide receiver, running back and inside linebacker. In just nine games, Spatz led the team in receiving yards and touchdowns, posting 18 receptions for 543 yards, good for an average of 30.4 yards per catch and 10 touchdowns.
On special teams, Spatz returned 13 kicks for an average of 14.3 yards per return. His presence also was feared at linebacker — he intercepted three passes: one returned for 75 yards and a touchdown, one for 22 yards and a touchdown, and one for 64 yards and almost a touchdown — his runback ended three yards short of the goal line.
Although Spatz has proved his versatility, his mind is set on offense at the moment.
“I’m going to the camp for wide receiver,” said Spatz. “It’s my favorite position and what I’m best at.”
Father Judge varsity finished 8-3 overall before losing to LaSalle in the AAAA semifinals. Although losing some key playmakers to graduation, such as Nick Myers, John Donohoe and Connor Thompson, leading rusher Raul Quinones and leading receiver John Landis will be back. Spatz hopes to join the new wave of leaders and make an impact.
“My goals are to succeed on varsity but to also be All-Catholic,” said Spatz. “We have the potential to make the playoffs again. We lost some starters, but we had a couple juniors go All-Catholic last year, so we’re still looking pretty good.”
Spatz’s football career predates his days at Father Judge. He played most of his career with the Holmesburg Boys Club under coach Tom Gontz, who fondly remembers Spatz.
“Brandon is very physically gifted,” Gontz said. “He was always strong, lean and athletic. He played line like a lot of kids do early on, but as time went on, we realized he’s going to be a really skilled position player, so we wanted to put him where he’d play in high school.
ldquo;He played tight end really well for us, as well as defensive back,” Gontz added. “He played in the Unlimited League, where we played teams up and down the East Coast, and was one of our best players.”
Although Spatz prefers playing offense over defense, his coaches, past and present, see him as a defensive player.
“I think he’s going to be more along the lines of a strong safety,” Gontz said of Spatz’s future. “I know they have him in the middle now, but when he gets to college, I see him more as a safety. He was a really good receiver for us, but as a coach, you look at a player and can kind of see what they will be. But his work ethic is strong. Some of the kids get on him for how hard he works. I think he’ll be able to excel at any position.”
Father Judge head coach Tom Coyle is more of a defense-minded coach.
“Coach Coyle likes me at linebacker,” said Spatz. “He likes defense a lot, and I like being back there a lot too.”
One of Football University’s many goals is to prepare players to play at the collegiate level. To achieve just that, Football University has the best compete against the best so that college recruiters can better gauge the caliber of talent.
As FootballUniversity.com puts it: “Fair or not, the talent in different states and different divisions/groups within states is perceived differently, just as a 280-pound offensive lineman dominating a 160-pound defensive lineman is perceived differently than one facing competition of his own size. To account for this, we encourage and prepare athletes to do just what they came to FBU to do: compete against the best.”
Spatz, who hopes to play in college, was in good hands in Virginia.
“I haven’t looked at any specific colleges yet,” he said, “but I’m really hoping to play in Division I.”
According to Gontz, Spatz’s work ethic shows he ready for the future.
“He’s focused, he’s serious about his workouts, and he does everything he’s supposed to do to head in the right direction,” said Gontz. “And I know his family is behind him all the way.” ••