IW: How was John’s senior season?
Pendino: He had a great season. He led us to our first conference championship in the history of the school, our first state playoff appearance in the history of the school, and played both ways. He was quarterback, played free safety, was our punter, kicks extra points and kicks off, so he did it all.
IW: You don’t see too many quarterbacks playing both ways. Was his athleticism such that you couldn’t afford not to have him on defense?
Pendino: I was fortunate enough to keep him off the defensive side of the ball for three years, but this year we just had to use him. And I’ll tell you what, after about the third or fourth game, I think he started thinking he was a better defensive back than he was a quarterback. He really got into it. He did a great job in the secondary for us. He hits like a linebacker. He’s got that kind of mentality. He will hit you.
IW: Is that an option for him at Wisconsin, if he gets into a situation where it doesn’t look like he will play quarterback?
Pendino: No, I know they really like him as a quarterback, and that’s where his heart is, playing quarterback. And I can see him playing there many years.
IW: He said when he watches Wisconsin, he compares himself to Brooks Bollinger, with his style of versatile play. Would you agree with that comparison?
Pendino: We ran a lot of similar offense to what Wisconsin ran. We ran a little option with the quarterback, and John’s probably biggest asset is being able to throw the ball on the run. Both sprinting out, and little semi-rolls, especially going to the left. He’s exceptional throwing the ball going to the left as a right-handed quarterback. But he’s also got a strong enough arm to be able to sit back there when you need him to, and take a seven-step drop and get the ball downfield for you.
IW: Did he start for three years at quarterback?
Pendino: He actually started, starting with the fourth game his freshman year. What happened was, he played with our freshman team as an eighth grader. Then as a ninth grader, he came out and we had a senior quarterback. John was actually going to be our third-team quarterback and he was going to play all the JV games and B Squad games. But our senior quarterback got hurt after the third game and the backup was kind of dinged up, so we went with John, because we knew John was going to be our guy down the road and he did very well. He ended up starting seven games as a freshman, and then from there on he ended up throwing for over 6,000 yards in his career, 42 touchdown passes, just did a great job for us. He’s kicked off since he was a freshman, PAT’s and field goals. He’s kicked three field goals of 43 yards, and this year he also punted for us. He also punt returned for us too. Halfway through the season, we couldn’t get a guy to catch the ball for us, so we stuck John back there. We knew we were going to get him to catch the ball so he actually returned punts too. He had a good year for us.
IW: How did Wisconsin land him?
Pendino: Well Coach Hueber did a great job recruiting him. They were the first to offer him, then they did a nice job recruiting him between Coach Hueber and Coach Horton, selling the kid that that’s where he needed to go. Because of the similarities of the offenses, John felt comfortable with being able to run the ball a little bit, being able to drop back, sprint out and throw the ball. And once he went there, he just loved the atmosphere.
IW: I know you have to run, so thanks a lot for your time.
Pendino: Well, I hope you get to see him start for three years there. I’ll be down there to watch him play. He’s a great kid too, and he comes from a great family. He’s everything that you want.