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Master at Arms

Will Hewlett has quickly ascended into one of the West Coast’s most sought after quarterback gurus

  By HAROLD ABEND | Contributor

  “Home on the Range” is the state song of Kansas, and while its verses talk about buffalo roaming and deer and antelope playing, The Range in Livermore has a different brood being bred. 

  College-bound quarterbacks. 

  What happens at the state-of-the-art facility on Patterson Pass Road isn’t happening by chance, it’s occurring because of Will Hewlett, the latest, and at 33, the youngest of the West Coast’s quarterback gurus.

  Hewlett, who operates out of The Range as the Director of Player Development for the National Football Academies (NFA), has a pretty impressive list of successful pupils that even goes back to before the native Australian moved to the East Bay from Florida a little over four years ago.

  Before he even took a varsity snap as a starting signal-caller, Hewlett’s prize pupil Morgan Mahalak, who just completed his senior and only season starting at quarterback for Marin Catholic-Kentfield, received multiple major Division I offers before settling on Oregon.

  “We met Will through a family friend when we were looking around for someone to work with me, and we decided to take a trip out there,” Mahalak said. “Thank God we did because it’s the best decision we ever made.”  

  After starting with Hewlett around three years ago, Mahalak developed into one of the top quarterback prospects in the nation as rated by every major recruiting service. 

  Mahalak was also the first to be an Elite 11 Camp selection and finalist with no varsity film. 

  “Will has meant the world to me, but not just in football,” Mahalak said. “Although it was kind of scary how fast I improved my mechanics and the way I throw the ball, tightening things up and even the little things he picks up on. He’s always been there for me like a second dad.” 

  Mahalak was involved in an accident in April and, although he ended up being relatively unharmed, he had to be rushed to the hospital.

  “Will was there in less than a half hour,” the young quarterback said. 

  It all started when Hewlett moved from Austrailia to Tampa, Florida, and played quarterback in high school. He then became the first Australian-born quarterback to play NCAA football. His college experience included the University of Nevada and the University of Dubuque. His playing career extended to the pro ranks with a stint in the Arena League.

  From there he started with the National Football Academies after returning to the Tampa area. 

  Currently, as Director of Player Development for the NFA, Hewlett is involved with conducting more than 70 youth development camps annually for youth and high school athletes. Hewlett has consulted with the NFL, UFL, and NCAA coaches, and continues to work with quarterbacks in the SEC, ACC, Big 10 and other conferences. He has been on the staff of the Elite 11 camps, and is a top speaker at the Glazier Clinics tour — the largest football coaching clinics in the country with over 26,000 active members. 

  Hewlett is constantly traveling throughout the country working with quarterback prospects and has several that fly in to the Bay Area to work with him at The Range. 

  How Hewlett does it with three young children and his wife Julia operating a business adjacent to The Range is amazing. 

  Part of it is a desire by Hewlett to be at the top of his game. 

  “My goal is to communicate to the world in a humble fashion that I’m the best mechanics coach in the country,” he said.

  There are several top-notch quarterback coaches in California but that hasn’t stopped Hewlett from attracting the top talent. His first Northern California pupil was San Ramon Valley-Danville quarterback Zach Kline, who has transferred to Oregon State from California. It was 2010, and at the time Kline was working with former Cal Coach and longtime Northern California quarterbacks coach Roger Theder, whom Kline continued to work with after starting with Hewlett. 

  The San Ramon Valley quarterback that followed Kline, Cameron Birse, was another early Northern California trainee. 

  “I don’t even know how to start telling you how much Coach Will has meant to me,” Birse said after a recent workout at The Range. 

  “I met him in my sophomore year and came in as a guy who could throw a baseball hard, and he turned me into a guy that could throw a football hard and with accuracy. If it wasn’t for Coach Will I’d be at a JC somewhere,” continued Birse, who despite only one year as a varsity starter, is now at Arkansas State on scholarship thanks to Hewlett. 

  For Mahalak, who came shortly after Birse, Hewlett worked almost like a magician.

  “We built a special recruiting video that showcased his abilities and we were careful with the camera angles,” Hewlett said. “Then, we promoted it in our extensive network of college coaches, and within 48-hours it had gone viral in the coaching community with over 800 views.”

  Mahalak had been training with Hewlett about 11 months when the video was created, and within four months he had committed to Oregon.

  The approach Hewlett uses includes biomechanics and other creative technology, getting kids to buy into making significant changes, and creating failure. “A big part is teaching kids how to overcome the pressures of failure while trying to help them work through new things,” he explained.

  Hewlett does a lot more for his students and the parents, and on an entirely individual basis. 

  “The way Will treats these boys and brings each one along at their own pace shows they’re more than football players to him,” said Scott Jimison, the father of Vista del Lago-Folsom junior quarterback Matt Jimison, who threw for 3,238 yards and 37 TDs in 2013. “He has a vested interest in these kids, plus he’s a coach to the dad’s too.”

  Hewlett is a coach to the moms as well. 

  “Will knows just where to zone in on where Mitch’s technique needs work. At the Elite 11 camps Mitch went in totally prepared for every drill,” said Michelle Daniels, the mother of Concord junior quarterback Mitch Daniels. 

  Not only does Hewlett work his magic with elite quarterbacks, he also works with youngsters, and sometimes from far away. On the day SportStars visited The Range, Birse’s session was followed by an eighth-grader that had flown in with his father from Alaska. “My philosophy is to find a way to bridge the gap in explaining a complex concept so a 13-year-old can digest it,” Hewlett said. 

  Nationwide, the recipe Hewlett uses has produced some remarkable results over the past 12 months alone.

  His 2014 class of quarterbacks has received over 50 college offers. Beside Mahalak, JaJuan Lawson (Casa Grande-Petaluma, Keaton Dunsford (Cardinal Newman-Santa Rosa) and CJ Spencer (Inderkum-Sacramento) have all received offers.  

  His Northern California underclassmen also includes junior Kyle Kearns of Foothill- Pleasanton, and Sac-Joaquin Section breakout sophmore Ian Book of Oak Ridge-El Dorado Hills. He also tutors CIF State Bowl-winning sophomore Hunter Petlantsky of Central Catholic-Modesto and projected starters Hunter Bishop at St. Francis-Mountain View and Darius Peterson, Mahalak’s likely successor at Marin Catholic. 

  “To see the improvements just since August in the mechanics and his physical progression, and none of it would be been possible without Will,” said Bishop’s father Randy Bishop, whose oldest son Braden Bishop starred at St. Francis and is now playing baseball at Washington. “The transition has been amazing,”  

  “The Range is the real deal,” remarked Inderkum assistant coach Terrance Leonard.

  Perhaps the elder Jimison summed it up best. 

  “Will has everything to offer that a quarterback needs to make it in college. It’s a Northern California quarterback factory.”

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