Washington was the only Pac-12 school to offer a scholarship to quarterback Daniel Bridge-Gadd, who began classes at UW on Monday. “I was really happy when (UW) pulled the trigger and offered,” he said.
For a Pac-12-caliber quarterback, Daniel Bridge-Gadd was something of a late bloomer.
Not until the very last week of his junior season did Bridge-Gadd get his first scholarship offer. That was from South Dakota State, and it didn’t exactly open the floodgates for more offers.
The quarterback at Phoenix’s Paradise Valley High got a few more soon after that, he recalled, with UNLV and New Mexico State the most intriguing. An Arizona State assistant coach watched him work out during a spring practice last year, but that didn’t lead to anything more. Arizona didn’t recruit him at all.
“In my opinion, I always thought I was a Pac-12 quarterback,” Bridge-Gadd said.
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Finally, Washington took notice over the summer and eventually became the lone Pac-12 school to commit a scholarship to the 6-foot-3, 195-pound quarterback. UW offensive coordinator Jonathan Smith flew to Phoenix and watched Bridge-Gadd lead a comeback win on Oct. 2. Two days later, the Huskies extended him a formal offer.
“I think they got a steal, for sure,” Paradise Valley coach Greg Davis said.
On Monday, Bridge-Gadd began his first class at UW, joining safety Taylor Rapp of Bellingham’s Sehome High as the two early enrollees from the Huskies’ 2016 recruiting class. Outside linebacker Myles Rice, who signed with UW last year but grayshirted while rehabbing a knee injury, also enrolled for winter term.
“I was really happy when (UW) pulled the trigger and offered,” Bridge-Gadd said. “ASU and UA, they didn’t really recruit me … so it will be cool to play (against) them each year.”
As a senior at Paradise Valley, Bridge-Gadd completed 251-of-374 passes for 4,258 yards and 47 touchdowns with nine interceptions. He also rushed for 627 yards and 17 touchdowns on 139 carries, earning Gatorade state player of the year honors and leading Paradise Valley to its first Division III state championship appearance.
“He’s a special kid,” Davis said. “His ability for us to extend plays was something I haven’t seen in 18 years of coaching high school football.”
Bridge-Gadd considers himself a pocket passer, but said he also takes pride in a “never-say-die” mentality to keep plays alive. “You’ll never see me fall down like Peyton Manning,” he said. “I’ll fight till the very end.”
After such a charmed senior season, that mentality backfired at the worst possible moment. With his team trailing by two points in the final minute of the championship game on Nov. 28, Bridge-Gadd had orchestrated a final drive deep into the opponents’ territory. On his last snap, he scrambled and was knocked back for a 14-yard loss, forcing Paradise Valley to hurry to get a last-second field-goal attempt off — and it was well off the mark. Paradise Valley lost 29-27.
“You live and die by it,” Bridge-Gadd said of his scrambling.
Still, he accounted for all 452 yards for Paradise Valley in the title game — 408 yards and three touchdowns passing, plus 46 yards rushing and another TD, according to the Arizona Republic. (A teammate was credited with minus-2 yards rushing to account for the difference.)
“He won a lot of games for us with his legs before that,” Davis said. “He took the blame for (the loss) and knows he should have gotten rid of the ball. I think that’s something that speaks to his character. He knows he made mistake there, and he owned it. It’s learning experience for sure, and that should benefit him later on.”
Bridge-Gadd said he’s eager now to dive into UW’s playbook and looking forward to competing during spring drills. He said the presence of established starter Jake Browning, coming off a strong freshman season, doesn’t deter him.
“There’s competition anywhere you go,” he said. “Coaches are going to make best decision for the team. My goal to play as early as I can, and I’m ready to get started.”