Written by Ryan Wright
When football fans look back on the 2018 high school football season for Weatherford, at first it may seem unassuming, but that is without context. To put the 4-7 season the Kangaroos turned in into perspective, it was a milestone achievement boarding on fantastic. The same squad posted a 0-10 record in 2017. The four wins are a noticed improvement, along with four close losses that could have propelled the team to a whole other level. It takes a team to win, and a leader on the field to help make it happen. Class of 2020 quarterback Ken Seals was that leader in 2018 for Weatherford.
Seals began his Texas high school football career playing varsity ball as a freshman but took his sophomore season at the junior varsity level to further sharpen his skills. The repetition at the JV level worked out during his junior year against 6A competition hitting on 201 passes for 369 covering 2,654 yards with 20 touchdowns. He also showed some dual-threat abilities rushing for 218 yards with five trips into the end zone.
The complete package that the 6-3, 203-pound, field general brings to the game has earned him four-star recruiting status and 12 reported offers. The recruiting process for Seals ended early when on April 3 he verbally committed to the Vanderbilt Commodores. Now the focus is getting the Kangaroos to their first winning season in some 25 years while helping land top recruits to Nashville as part of the 2020 recruiting class.
In an RNG exclusive interview partnered with QB Hit List, I sat down with one of Texas’ best in the pocket for an overview on his skills and how Vanderbilt became his ideal fit at the collegiate level.
Ken, every season in any given sport allows an opportunity to learn the game. What were some of the biggest learning points you took away from last season that will help you going forward?
“Last year, I felt like we had a lot of guys that were new to their position, on offense especially. Even with that limited experience, we were able to play well together. Early on we struggled with the mental aspect, especially if the odds were against us, sometimes we would struggle to come together. When we hit our stride, we did not look back.
“I think we learned on having out sights set on the whole game, not one play. We learned it is a marathon not a sprint. We know we have to stay positive. Last season, there were four games we lost by 10 points or less; North Crowley (35-28), San Angelo (26-21), Haltom (39-29), and Richland (36-33). Haltom were the district champs, Richland – we lost by a touchdown with two minutes left, and Crowley was our homecoming. We could have won those games. We win those games, we get a better seeding in the playoffs and it is a whole different season.”
I want to get this question in early. You have deceptive speed – you can scoot. What is the fastest timed run you have posted?
“My fastest hand-held was a 4.86. My fastest laser was 4.94 at the Houston Nike Opening camp.”
You have much better game speed then.
(Laughs) “They call it football speed. I have worked really hard to get faster with my 40-yard dash. I think it is mental for me. I get too much in my head, and I run the same 40 time each time. When I am running for my life, I have decent wheels.”
You guys line up in the Spread, how does that system fit your abilities on the field?
“We can throw it and spread it out in our offense. We don’t take a lot of shots downfield, but we throw it 60 to 70 percent of the time. We have running back this year Dez (Dezmond) Forrest, he is a guy that can open that offense up. He is shifty. He can make something out of nothing. That will complement the passing attack. I think we will have the scariest offense in our district this year.”
What were some key parts to your game that improved a lot last season?
“My decision making improved a lot. My freshman year, I was starting on varsity and I threw more interceptions than touchdowns. I went to the JV my sophomore year, and last year I was able to gather myself and play at a higher level. I realized that I was a freshman doing this. I am a junior now and I understand the game better – I can do this. I cleared my head. I was making quicker decisions and making better reads. I only had five interceptions going into the playoffs. That is something that will get even better next season. I am not satisfied with where my game is at now. It is my goal to keep getting better.”
When you do go deep, you can air the ball out. No question about that. What are some of the other strengths to your game at this point in your career?
“I am very good at RPO (run-pass option). When coach lets me read a key defender on RPOs, I can take that defender out of the play. We run zone concepts, quick step pass game, plays against flat defenders, all of that confuses defenses. Even our defense in practice gets frustrated by it and they know it is coming, but they can’t stop it.”
Looking over the Kangaroos 2018 roster, you guys had a young team. How did the squad look in spring practices?
“According to Coach (Billy) Mathis, this is the best we have ever looked, that includes the past Weatherford teams they have seen. We have made a lot of progress. This is one of the best springs we have had in a long time. We hit it running. We got rolling with the pads on and it was clicking for all of us. The spring game was a little rough. There were some scouts from other teams in the stands watching. We did not call that many signals from the sidelines, we called the play in the huddle. That messed up our rhythm up. As a team, we all knew the plays, the receivers were running the right routes; it was better than anyone expected.”
How did you prepare for a given game last season, and are you doing anything differently this year with your preparation?
“I became more of a student of the game this season. Last year, I watched film a lot with my coaches and at home. This year, I want to breakdown film and know exactly what they will do. I want to have that Peyton Manning mentality going into each game. I want that knowledge of the opposing defense in my game. I am putting the time in with my game preparation but it will be more intense preparation that last season.”
Have you competed at any camps this offseason?
“Yes, sir. I competed at the Elite 11 in Dallas and Houston, the Lone Star Showcase in Dallas – I won MVP there, another QB competition camp. All of those camps were during the school year. I am planning on going to the QB Collective Camp in LA in July.”
How did the Elite 11 competition go?
“I thought I tore it up in Dallas, I thought I put on a good performance in Houston as well. I think I had one spell of three incompletions, but other than that I threw really well.”
Are there any upcoming camps on the schedule?
“I want to go to a Vanderbilt camp on the 21st, it is an Elite camp but I am not sure if I will be able to make it. There is an official visit day event they have planned; I am planning on going up there for that. I want to recruit the players myself. I want to tell them why I made my decision. I plan on going up there this summer at some point on an unofficial visit.”
Nice transition. On April 3, you committed to the Commodores. How did Vanderbilt build that relationship with you through the process?
“It was different than any other college. Vanderbilt had at least five coaches texting me each week checking on me. It was different. I felt better about the staff and who I was playing for and committing to in this process. I had a better feeling about their staff. Others felt like they needed you or using you, at Vanderbilt it felt like they wanted to help you. I wanted to be a part of a team that can challenge for an SEC championship. They are recruiting a lot of guys that are committing with the same vision of where we want to take the program.”
You spoke about the coaches, what was it about the school and program that became your ideal fit?
“Looking at how they run their offense, I like what Coach (Gerry) Gdowski, he is their offensive coordinator and quarterback coach, does with the offense. I like what they have done in the past and how they get under center and go into the shotgun in a pro-style offense. I want some good film on me for the level after college in a pro-style set. I want that experience running that offense if I am fortunate enough to play at the next level. With my family and I, academics are important. For me, I like talking about their academics. The education there is great. My parents have urged me to use college to go get an education more so than focus on just football. Education, that is what is more valuable. I liked Vanderbilt’s emphasis on education.”
Do you know when you are going to visit the Commodores on your official visit?
“No official visits have been set yet. I am not sure when I will take it. That has not been important to set it yet. I have been up there four times now. When I go up there, it will be to recruit others.”
One of the key parts of being a quarterback commit is helping build the recruiting class. You touched on this a minute ago, how are you helping and what is your pitch to other recruits on Vanderbilt?
“All I am able to do is follow them on social media and DM (direct message) them. I keep it informal. I don’t want to be an extension of the coaches. I want to be real with them. Recruiting can be stressful. For the guys we are going after, I keep telling them if you need any help let me know and I will help you as much as I can. I let them know if there is anything I can do, I am here to help and I can share my decision and my process with them with the Vanderbilt staff. I ask Coach (Derek) Mason (head coach) and Gdowski what I can do to help each week. We have guys like (WR) Logan Kyle committing. He will be a game changer at Vanderbilt. We are up to six guys now in our recruiting class. I think other recruits will start to take notice.”
Last question. What goals have you set for yourself for your senior year?
“I do not have stat specific goals for touchdowns, yards, and rushing yards. But a good goal is to have a winning season. That has not been done in 25 years at Weatherford. If we can do that, things will change for the Weatherford program. I would love to play in state this year; I want that playoff experience. That would be amazing. We have to take it one game and one play at a time and keep working hard to accomplish our goals.”
Ken, it was fun covering all this ground with you today. I appreciate your time and wish you continued success with your offseason workouts.
Photo credit: Seals family; Ken Seals with Coach Mason and with Kyle Shurmur