Mitch Guadagni eyes next level
Mitch Guadagni has always been patient enough to wait for his turn to play quarterback at Hudson High School, which is located just outside of Cleveland. But when he was a freshman, he moved up to the Explorers’ JV team when David Nelson went down with an injury.
As a sophomore, Guadagni took over as Hudson’s varsity starter at QB when Ben Hart broke his wrist in the first game of the season. “He played basically every snap as a sophomore and he had a huge year, throwing for over 2,000 yards with 26 touchdowns and just 4 interceptions,” said Brad Maendler, the Explorers’ quarterback coach. “He’s really taken off from there. I’ve been at Hudson since 2009 and he’s the best quarterback I’ve coached. We’ve had some really good ones, but Mitch is on another level.”
As a junior last season, Guadagni showed why, passing for 2,029 yards and 22 touchdowns while exploiting his 4.63 speed in the 40 to rush for 913 yards and 7 more scores. The 6-foot-2 1/2, 190-pounder also led the Explorers to a 10-2 record, which included a playoff win.
“I thought we had a very good season,” Guadagni said. “We lost a couple of our good seniors but we stepped it up on both sides of the ball and won a lot of games. Personally, there are definitely some things I want to clean up heading into my senior year. There were a couple of reads I wish I could have gotten back but overall I thought it was a good season.”
Big Ten interest
Guadagni had a good enough junior season to attract widespread collegiate attention from Big Ten schools like Northwestern, Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State and Michigan State. He’s already received offers from Buffalo, Kent State, Toledo, Western Michigan, Akron and James Madison.
“I’ve wanted to play college football ever since I was little,” Guadagni said. “My dad (Mark) played for Michigan, so I’ve always been around football. Always watching Michigan games, I always wanted to play at the next level.”
Ideally, Guadagni would like to commit to a college before the start of his senior season, but he is still enjoying the recruiting process. “So far, it’s been good,” Guadagni said. “A little stressful, but overall it’s been fine. I like getting out and seeing colleges. It’s cool being able to talk to coaches and get a good feel for them. It’s been good so far.”
Maendler, who is also an NFA coach, is confident Guadagni is going to be an impact quarterback at the collegiate level. “I don’t think there’s any doubt,” said Maendler, who was a standout QB at Bemidji State in Minnesota. “When I look at quarterbacks and what I want, I look for toughness, I look for smarts and I look for work ethic and he’s got all three in spades. He’s so got so much natural athleticism but he works so hard. That’s a great combination.”
While Guadagni has passed for over 4,000 yards and nearly 50 touchdowns in his first two years at Hudson, he is equally dangerous rushing the football. “I love being able to run the ball,” Guadagni said. “I’ve been a quarterback my whole life and back when I was a kid playing with the (Hudson) Hawks, all we did was run the ball pretty much. I still love running the ball.”
Dangerous dual threat
His obvious ability as a dual threat should help get the Explorers back into the playoffs next season and advance Guadagni’s career at the next level. “I think it’s a combination of things that stand out with him,” Maendler said. “He’s such an explosive runner but he can throw. Make no mistake about it, he can really throw the football. Offensively, we are a very balanced team. I think his passing and rushing numbers, they give you a good sense of what he’s able to do.
“And I think that kind of flexibility makes him really valuable to colleges because he can stand in the pocket and throw and progress through our pass concepts,” Maendler continued. “He can also handle quarterback runs and he’s outstanding at escaping out of the pocket and making something out of nothing. He’s got that flair for making something happen when it doesn’t look like anything’s there. That flexibility of throwing and running and the ability to make something out of nothing makes him a really a valuable quarterback.”
For as good as he’s been with the Explorers and for as bright as his future is, Guadagni is a perfectionist and he’s not going to sit back and admire what he’s already accomplished. “I think there’s definitely a lot more room for improvement,” Guadagni said. “Just with reads, I made a couple of bad decisions last season that I think could have helped us a lot. Just being able to know when to tuck the ball and run or make a little better read with the zone offense, there’s definitely some stuff I need to work. Overall, I hope there’s some improvement.”
Given his natural ability and intense drive, you can bet Guadagni’s future steps are all going to be forward. And even with all of the college attention, he’s focused on getting Hudson deeper into the playoffs next season.
“I’m definitely working on my footwork and a couple of adjustments we’ve made with the offense this off-season, a couple more plays that have been put in,” Guadagni said. “I’m also throwing with the wide receivers, trying to get a good feel for them.”
Guadagni has been training with NFA since he was in the seventh grade, and he appreciates the pointers he’s picked up from Maendler and the rest of the NFA staff. “Back in seventh grade it was learning to get to zero and little stuff at first and then we’ve just built on it the past few years,” Guadagni said. “From just throwing the ball to reading the defense to getting more power on my throws, NFA has helped me with everything.”