This is the latest in an occasional series on how some of the area’s top high school athletes are working to develop their skills over the summer.
Matty Callahan, a rising senior quarterback at Northwest, dutifully organizes team offseason workouts, setting up informal sessions at the Germantown school or nearby Maryland SoccerPlex in the spring and summer.
But on the days that he doesn’t make the first move, Callahan can usually count on his phone to buzz with a text message from one of his wide receivers looking for a throwing partner.
“It helps so much when it comes to timing and knowing what athlete can do what, what they’re good at,” Callahan said. “But it’s mainly building team chemistry, building camaraderie. I don’t think I’ve been closer to a group of guys, to be honest.”
Entering his fourth season as the Jaguars’ starting quarterback, Callahan has seen it all before, grinding through another summer schedule packed with camps, seven-on-seven competitions and plenty of those team-building workouts, which are always closed with pushups while spelling out “Maryland 4A state champs.”
But this time around, the process has taken on a bit more urgency. Callahan — an honorable mention All-Met pick last fall — wants to close his high school career in style and find a place to play college football. The 6-foot, 170-pound quarterback knows a strong summer can go a long way toward both of those goals.
Callahan made his case as a college prospect last fall, finishing seventh in the area with 2,244 passing yards last season to go along with 26 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. After winning a total of four games in the previous two seasons, the Jaguars won five games and just missed a spot in the Maryland 4A West playoffs.
Northwest has run some version of the spread offense for Callahan’s entire career, but he’s played under three different head coaches and offensive coordinators. He’ll be working with Coach Mike Neubeiser and offensive coordinator Justin Sickeri for the second year in a row.
In offseason workouts, Callahan said he felt more comfortable running seven-on-seven drills with a better understanding of Sickeri’s system. Callahan’s top target is back as well in Ryan Markush, a 6-foot-1, 175-pound receiver who has received strong interest from several Football Championship Series schools.
“We really didn’t know what weapons we had for [Callahan] to work with” last year, Neubeiser said. “Coming in this year, we kind of know our strengths and weaknesses. Hopefully, we can build on the strengths, and I think it will give him a lot more confidence.”
On the recruiting front, Callahan’s size remains an obstacle.
A few inches shorter than the ideal quarterback prospect, Callahan has put on about 10 pounds since last season thanks to regular work in the weight room, and he’s added in speed workouts with help from the Northwest track and field coaches. Neubeiser said he’s noticed improved zip on his quarterback’s throws this summer.
“It sucks,” Callahan said of the importance placed on size by recruiters. “It closes a lot of doors for me, but I know I can play on any field with anybody. It’s never really been a problem. ... Height, to me, is just a number.”
Callahan periodically trains with former University of Maryland quarterback Scott McBrien and through that relationship, he had the chance to work out a few times alongside University of Wisconsin quarterback Danny O’Brien earlier this summer.
Those sessions have only reinforced Callahan’s belief he can play at the next level. While he is still waiting on his first scholarship offer, he has done his best to get in front of as many college coaches as possible this summer. He has made camp stops at the University of Virginia, University of Maryland and the Top Dawg senior college showcase at North Point. He may attend another at Old Dominion later this month.
“I think I opened up some eyes,” Callahan said of his summer performance. “I’m starting to develop interest slowly but surely. Hopefully, when the season starts and I can put together some senior film, I can open up some more eyes.”