Only 14 years old, Brandon McIlwain has already established himself as a star player in two sports – football and baseball.
As an eighth grader at Newton (Pa.) Middle School, located just outside of Philadelphia, McIlwain quickly developed into one of the top youth quarterbacks in the country.
He also excels in baseball as a pitcher, shortstop and center fielder, and McIlwain is already regarded as a future major-league prospect.
For good measure, McIlwain plays basketball in the winter, but football is his top sport.
“If I had to pick one, it would be football,” McIlwain said in a phone interview. “It wouldn’t be a tough choice for me to make because when it comes down to it, football is my passion. Football has always been my passion.”
McIlwain started playing flag football when he was 5 years old, but he didn’t begin his career playing quarterback.
“After flag football, I started playing tackle football when I was 7 years old,” McIlwain said. “I actually started getting into quarterback when I was in fifth grade. I played running back and in fourth grade, I was a right guard before I played running back.”
When he did switch over to QB, McIlwain found his ideal position.
A QBA/NFA participant for the past four years, McIlwain gained national attention as an eighth grader when he threw a football 56 yards.
“Brandon is one of the best football and baseball prospects in the country,” said QBA/NFA Coach Will Hewlett. “He has excellent vision, he is a dominating runner with quick feet, he has poise in the pocket and he has one of the strongest arms and most accurate arms in youth football.”
McIlwain will be a freshman at Council Rock North High School in Newton, and he is already making a strong push to be the Indians’ starting varsity quarterback.
He is competing with junior Joe Eick, who has an edge in experience. McIlwain is determined to win the starting job despite being such a young player.
“During 7 on 7 drills this summer (Eick) and I have been switching off at quarterback,” McIlwain said. “I’m going to be a freshman, but the competition doesn’t scare me at all. I feel that being able to compete is one of my strengths. I actually like the competition because it’s good for me and it will help make me an even better player.”
It’s just a matter of time before McIlwain steps under center for Council Rock North H.S. When he does win the starting quarterback job for the Indians, McIlwain won’t be satisfied with just being on the field.
“Being the starting quarterback isn’t going to be good enough for me,” McIlwain said. “I want to do really good and I want to help make my team better. Those are two of my biggest goals heading into the season.”
As he plays quarterback at a higher level, McIlwain can turn to Council Rock North Head Coach Adam Collachi and Offensive Coordinator Phil Mann for advice.
He can also turn to a pair of cousins that are playing on the professional level.
Aaron Maybin is a defensive end for the NFL’s New York Jets and Cameron Maybin is a center field for MLB’s Los Angeles Dodgers.
“I think it’s good for me because if I have any questions I can always talk to them about it and they will be able to give me really good advice,” McIlwain said. “I can ask them about how the road was getting up there and that kind of stuff.”
While McIlwain is a football player first, he wants to continue playing baseball and basketball at Council Rock North.
Looking ahead to college, he would like to play football and baseball.
“I’m going to try to do both sports,” McIlwain said. “As I long as I can keep my grades up and maintain a high level of performance in both sports, it is something I’d like to do.”
As a football player, McIlwain already has shown he has all of the athletic tools needed to succeed at any level.
Projected to grown to 6-foot-5, McIlwain already stands 6 feet tall and weighs 178 pounds.
As he gains added size, he will continue to work hard at being the best quarterback possible.
“I have to work on my consistency throwing the football,” McIlwain said. “Because with baseball, sometimes I tend to drop my elbow and get to a baseball throw when I am throwing the football. I am working on that, and I am also doing normal weight lifting, conditioning and staying in shape.”
While he has already made a name for himself as a QB, McIlwain said he tries to pattern himself after Donovan McNabb and Ben Roethlisberger.
“Living so close to Philadelphia, I got to meet Donovan McNabb when he was with the Eagles,” McIlwain said. “That was really cool. And I am a big (Pittsburgh) Steelers fans, and I am a big fan of Ben Roethlisberger. I really like how he can always keep the play alive and he seems to make something out of any situation. That’s how I hope to play.”
He won’t graduate high school until 2016, but McIlwain is already attracting interest from college football programs across the country.
“I’ve thought about it a little bit,” McIlwain said. “I like Stanford. I like Georgia because my mom went there. And I like South Carolina because my dad went there. I like Penn State, too, because it’s local. But I’m still open to everything.”
McIlwain is incredibly mature for his age, and that should help him make a smooth transition to high school football, college and possibly even the NFL.
“My parents help me a lot,” McIlwain said. “They make sure that I stay humble and don’t put too much on my plate.”