David Sills at SBCC's La Playa Stadium May 26, 2012
Paul Wellman

Steve Clarkson’s Quarterback Retreat made a big splash in Santa Barbara four years ago when the parents of his trainees included Joe Montana, Wayne Gretzky, and Snoop Dogg. They all showed up at SBCC’s La Playa Stadium to observe the goings-on. Future USC quarterback Matt Barkey was among the prospects being drilled by Clarkson and his staff.

The celebrity component of Clarkson’s 2012 Retreat, held over Memorial Day weekend, was not nearly so illustrious. NFL quarterbacks Matt Cassel, Matt Leinart, and Jake Locker were expected to appear, but they bowed out because of obligations to their teams’ off-season training programs, according to Clarkson’s publicist. Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown, also billed as a guest coach, did not show up.

Reporters on the scene had to be content with interviewing potential stars of the future – in some cases, the distant future.

Brent Peus will be a 9th grader at Santa Barbara High this fall. He started playing quarterback in the Youth Football League in the 3rd grade. He immediately found out what he wanted to do the rest of his athletic life. “It was awesome,” Peus said.

He started taking lessons in 2010 from Clarkson, renowned for teaching the fundamentals of quarterbacking. “I go to workouts in Los Angeles every two weeks,” Peus said. In July, he will attend the Manning Passing Academy in Louisiana. All the Manning men – Archie, Peyton, Eli, and Cooper – will be working the camp, Peus said.

Peus does not expect to take over as quarterback of the Santa Barbara varsity this year. They have a returning starter, Sean Ramos, at the position. “He’s a good player,” Peus said. “He’s really athletic with good field awareness.” But starting in 2013, Peus might be a ready-made QB for the Dons.

David Sills is a protégé of Clarkson’s who received a ton of publicity before he even entered the 8th grade. He showed such promise two years ago, at the age of 14, that USC coach Lane Kiffin accepted Sills’s non-binding verbal commitment to become a Trojan – in 2015.

Sills is on his way to being a five-year prep varsity starter. As an 8th and 9th grader, he quarterbacked Delaware’s Red Lion Christian Academy. Sills and most of his high-profile teammates have transferred to another school, Maryland’s Eastern Christian Academy, because Red Lion’s administration decided it did not want to continue with a football team that played a nationwide schedule.

Eastern Christian Academy is an online school. “We have web-chats with teachers,” Sills said. “They’re always there.” Meanwhile, the football team will be on the move this fall. “We’re scheduling a game at Upland [California],” said Sills, who flies across the country “once every month and a half” to work out with Clarkson.

Sills barely stood 6 feet tall when he came out to Clarkson’s Santa Barbara camp two years ago. Now he is 6’3” and 185 pounds. “Doctors say I’ll grow to 6’5” and weigh 225-230,” he said. That’s more than enough for him to play in the NFL, if the skill is there.

Sills named three quarterbacks whose qualities he would like to embrace – “Drew Brees for his accuracy, Cam Newton for the excitement he generates, and Peyton Manning for his field generalship.”


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