As published on RecruitingNewsGuru.com Written by Ryan Wright
The foreshadowing of coming events was laid out for all to see with Ryan Zanelli during the 2017 season, but few would have guessed to this level. After appearing in five games a year ago hitting 27 of 38 passes for 331 yards with six scores, the Class of 2020 quarterback has taken southern California defenses by storm tossing for 2,860 yards with 38 touchdowns with one rushing score in 10 games played. The high production has been needed helping push his La Habra High School squad to a 7-3 record staring down Notre Dame High School (Sherman Oaks) in the first round of the Division-II playoffs. The play on the field is starting to attract a crowd off of it.
In an RNG exclusive interview, I sat down with one of the top rising prospects in California learning more about his game in the pocket and his growing recruiting interests.
Ryan, the Highlanders were a high-scoring offense this season averaging 36 points per game. What were some of the strengths of the team on that side of the ball?
“I think it was our execution. We practiced with the intention to score on every drive. When we work together as a unit the results speak for themselves.”
The season started out very challenging squaring off against some great teams, and then you guys found your groove ripping off six wins in a row. What was the change for the team contributing to the winning season?
“I don’t think it was a huge change. We were playing together and executing better. We started off 0-4, but we were not executing well in those games yet were in each game.”
How did the tough start to the season help you grow as a quarterback?
“Coming in, I had some varsity experience but not against that level of competition. I grew up fast. I handled it pretty well. I had to speed up my process and get the ball out faster.”
In all accounts, the 2018 season has been a breakout year for you. You’ve thrown for nearly 3,000 yards in 10 games with close to 40 touchdowns, has your performance even surprised yourself a little bit?
“The stats sound great but I am just trying to do my job. To your point, after the games when I see my stats, I am surprised. But, when we are out on the field I am just thinking about doing my job.”
Looking back over the regular season, what are you most proud of with the team’s accomplishments?
“I am proud with the way we bounced back and rallied as a team. We could have gone in the tank but we kept battling. Going through that adversity, I have not lost a lot of games in my life, the perseverance to keep getting better kept driving me.”
Which game was your personal best this season?
“I’d go with the game against Troy. I only had two incompletions and five touchdown passes.”
What do feel are the strengths to your overall game as a quarterback?
“I think my accuracy and decision making is putting me over the top. I know where to go with the ball based off my preparation in practice and film study. I am putting the ball in the right spots so my receivers can go make plays.”
You have some fantastic weapons to throw to in Clark Phillips, Kalani Washington, Kristopher Koontz, and Mason West when you drop back, how do you keep the chemistry going and how do you work with your receiving corps each week?
“If we do a new thing in practice, we will stay and work on it after practice to get it down for the game. We have great chemistry and we are always working together to stay on top of it.”
Where have you showed the biggest improvements as a quarterback from Game 1 this season to Game 10?
“My biggest improvements, I’d say getting the ball out faster and speeding it up. My movement in the pocket and out of the pocket has improved. My overall speed within the game has improved throughout the season.”
You guys have a tough draw against a talented Notre Dame team on Nov. 2. There will be a lot of speed flying around the field on both sides of the ball. What kind of game are you expecting from the Knights’ defense?
“They are really talented and they have a talented secondary. I think they have 20 interceptions on the year. For me, it is about being smart and knowing when to take shots and when not to take shots.”
With the breakout season, which schools are you drawing interest from now?
“I am receiving interest from Oregon State, UCLA, Washington, Cal, Utah, and LSU.”
Have you taken any unofficial visits yet?
“Yes. I visited UCLA for a game.”
Do you have any planned visits upcoming?
“I am looking to go to LSU or Cal sometime soon.”
Ryan, thanks for your time today and good luck against Notre Dame.