Bobby Sabelhaus, a former high school All-America quarterback from McDonogh School, will ride the bench tomorrow in San Jose State's opener at Stanford.
A lackluster showing in an intrasquad game last week dropped Sabelhaus, a 6-foot-5, 250-pound junior, to third on San Jose's depth chart behind a senior and a freshman. It was the latest setback for Sabelhaus, once a highly recruited quarterback who has shuffled from college to college and has yet to take a snap.
"We had hoped Bobby would have an outstanding scrimmage, and he didn't," said Dave Baldwin, San Jose's head coach. "He is disappointed in himself more than anything. But we told him that even though the window is closed now doesn't mean it's sealed shut, because no one [quarterback] has looked spectacular.
"We're still waiting for one guy to jump out of there and blossom," said Baldwin. "Something is bound to happen, and if Bobby continues to improve "
Sabelhaus clings to that hope.
"I believe I still have a shot," said the 22-year-old Owings Mills native. "The other two [quarterbacks] stepped it up in the last couple of scrimmages and deserve a chance. If that chemistry doesn't work, Coach will try another combination.
"I've got to put a positive spin on this. I'm throwing spirals; I just need experience, and the game against [cross-county rival] Stanford probably isn't the place to get it."
Sabelhaus enrolled at San Jose State last January, after unsuccessful stops at Florida and West Virginia. At both, coaches tinkered with Sabelhaus' throwing style, a near-sidearm delivery that helped him set the Maryland high school career passing yardage mark in 1994.
Sabelhaus lost confidence and dropped out of football for a year before hiring a private coach to turn his game around. Last winter, he signed with San Jose State, calling it his final opportunity.
He has two years of college eligibility left.
The Spartans, 4-7 last year in the Western Athletic Conference, still think Sabelhaus can help, particularly in 1999, when the 16-team WAC slims to eight colleges, few of them recent powers.
"Bobby hasn't looked bad -- accuracy is his biggest forte -- but he didn't make the best decisions in that scrimmage," Baldwin said. "One pass was picked off, another was overthrown and we jumped offside on his cadence. He needs to work on the audibles, the checks.
"Right now, he's mechanical in his thinking. Give him a year to mature in this program, and his instincts will take over."
Can Sabelhaus wait that long?
"I don't know," he said. "I've got to go one day at a time. I have a pretty simple goal -- to get into a game -- and I think I'll get that
chance, to throw my first collegiate pass."
San Jose officials have sought to downplay Sabelhaus' past to reduce the pressure on the one-time phenom. In the Spartans' football media guide, for instance, Sabelhaus' biography is contained to a few meager paragraphs.
"All spring, we told Bobby he didn't have to be 'The Man,' and he PTC seemed to have tremendous fun," the coach said. "He smiled, laughed and walked with a little bounce in his step. And when the campus newspaper wrote about his past, Bobby never tried to hide anything."
Pub Date: 9/04/98