Sabelhaus finds the way to San Jose Ex-McDonogh star to get fresh start with Spartans

December 01, 1997|By Mike Klingaman | Mike Klingaman,SUN STAFF

Bobby Sabelhaus, former McDonogh School quarterback and Parade All-American, is headed to San Jose State -- the fourth college he will have attended since 1995.

Sabelhaus yesterday made an oral commitment to play football for the Spartans, who offered the 6-foot-5 junior a scholarship though he has yet to take a snap in a college game.

"I want to show this country that I wasn't a fluke," said JTC Sabelhaus, 21, who failed to impress in stints at Florida and West Virginia. "I'm going to get it done."

The Sun Player of the Year at McDonogh, where he broke most state high school passing records, Sabelhaus has struggled since. He spent one year at Florida as heir apparent to Heisman Trophy winner Danny Wuerffel, leaving after Gators coach Steve Spurrier tried to change his throwing style.

Disheartened, Sabelhaus turned his back on the game, enrolled at Pierce Junior College in Los Angeles and earned an associate of arts degree. Last spring, he accepted a football scholarship to West Virginia, only to quit in August after three days of practice when told he would see no playing time.

Sabelhaus returned to Los Angeles, where, for four months, he has worked with a private quarterback coach to salvage the remains of a once-promising career.

"He knows this is his last shot," said his father, Bob Sabelhaus Sr.

San Jose State of the Western Athletic Conference went 4-7 this year under first-year coach Dave Baldwin. The Spartans, who graduate their starting quarterback, play a 12-game schedule next year, including an Oct. 3 contest at Virginia. The Cavaliers will be the first Atlantic Coast Conference team to face San Jose State in football.

NCAA rules prohibit coaches from commenting on recruits before they sign.

San Jose State was one of two schools vying for Sabelhaus, who was also wooed by Vanderbilt of the Southeastern Conference. That school was too close to home, he said.

"I wanted a fresh start, away from the East Coast, where people don't know the baggage, the stories of my past," said Sabelhaus, an Owings Mills resident.

"To [San Jose], I'm just a transfer."

Sabelhaus will sign next week and begin classes next month. He has two years' eligibility remaining.

The Spartans' reputation as a passing team swayed Sabelhaus, who threw for more than 5,800 yards in high school.

Not coincidentally, San Jose State is the alma mater of his private coach, Steve Clarkson, 37, a one-time Canadian Football League quarterback whom Sabelhaus credits with repairing his football mechanics -- and his mind-set.

"He [Clarkson] has transformed me into the best I've ever been," he said. "My support is on the West Coast; I want him around."

Pub Date: 12/01/97

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