Matured McCullum off to blazing start for Waterford Mott

David Goricki
The Detroit News

David McCullum is playing as well as any quarterback in the state during his senior season at Waterford Mott.

McCullum, in his second year as Mott’s starter, has thrown for 1,550 yards and 16 touchdowns this season to help Mott earn a share of the league lead with a 4-1 record in the newly formed Lakes Valley Conference.

And McCullum has never been better than during the last two weeks, throwing for 690 yards and eight touchdowns in wins over Walled Lake Western and Waterford Kettering.

In the 47-37 victory over Division 2 state runner-up Western, McCullum connected on 21 of 30 passes for 340 yards and three touchdowns while showing his dual-threat ability by rushing for 82 yards and a score on 10 carries.

Last Friday, McCullum recorded season highs in passing yards (350) and touchdowns (five) in a 43-20 victory over Kettering.

“He is such a good kid, has grown up so much,” Mott coach Chris Fahr. “He can make all the throws and has the ability to make something happen with his legs when a play breaks down.

“Dave is having a great season, just continues to get better each game, really each day since the offseason. He was really dedicated in the offseason, all the guys were really since January and it was unlike anything I’ve ever seen and I’m proud of all of them.

“We run the spread, basically shotgun, no-huddle, just get to the line and go as fast as the referees let us, and that conditioning has allowed us to play really fast.”

McCullum received an offer from Louisville last year. He also has interest from Arizona, Toledo, Western Michigan and, recently, Michigan State with Spartans quarterbacks coach Brad Salem attending the Mott-Western game.

McCullum has matured both physically and emotionally during the past year, growing from 6-foot, 160 pounds to 6-2 and 175. He also is more confident although he had a strong junior year when he threw for 2,500 yards and 25 touchdowns to lead Mott to a 6-5 record and playoff win over Rochester Adams before a district final loss to Romeo, then the defending Division 1 state champs.

“I feel very confident with this team, things are going well for us,” McCullum said. “I feel I’ve really improved on my confidence and my arm. Last year, I didn’t always think I could get it to my receivers with the deep ball and now I’m the most confident quarterback.

“It’s fun playing in this (spread) offense. There’s a lot you can do and when in doubt you can run the ball. I have unlimited weapons out there with me every play. I feel I can make all the throws, get it in those tight windows.

“Most of the teams (opponents) like to keep it compact in the box and when we pass the ball and start making big plays, I like to spread them out. Then when they spread out, we run the ball right up the center and it works every time.”

McCullum does have his share of weapons to work with, including Ashton Franklin, Matt Bradley, Tariq Hardy and Patrick Bicknell. Add running back Marcus Guerrero and Mott has a well-balanced attack.

Franklin had six receptions for 116 yards and Hardy had five catches for 116 yards against Western, while Bicknell had nine catches for 105 yards against Kettering.

“Ashton’s a big target and he’s come up big the last couple of games, gives me a lot of confidence,” McCullum said. “Bradley can get open at any point in time, runs routes well and is just dominant at every aspect. Tariq Hardy has been big for us and Patrick Bicknell is a great route runner and I know where he wants the ball, we’ve developed that type of bond.”

Said Fahr: “Pat Bicknell is kind of like our little Wes Welker type, works the underneath coverages. He’s not too big and not too fast, but he’s always open and catches the ball. I always joke that when we need first downs I find him.”

While McCullum has an offer from Louisville, he has yet to commit despite noting that his favorite player is Heisman Trophy award winner and Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson.

“Louisville is my lone offer, but I’ve been talking to a lot of coaches over these last few weeks,” McCullum said. “Louisville offered me October of last year. They use the spread offense and I’m pretty comfortable with that since I run that in high school, and most of the concepts is basically what I know in the back of my head.”

Former Mott receiver Dez Fitzpatrick — a member of The News’ Dream Team in 2015 — now plays at Louisville. Fitzpatrick has 12 catches for 235 yards and four score this season, including a touchdown catch in the loss to defending national champion Clemson.

McCullum said the win over Western gives Mott a lot of confidence going forward. He also credits strength and conditioning coach Guy Monarch for helping Mott have more endurance during the fourth quarter of games.

“It was big, knowing we hadn’t beaten them in many years,” McCullum said. “I came into the game just leading my team. Coach Fahr pushed us all week to have great practices. We came out and just dominated all four quarters.”

And, of Monarch?

“It’s meant everything,” McCullum said. “We used to go into the weight room every day during the offseason. We gave it our all, blood, sweat and tears. You could just look around and know that bond is there, that we could work hard, and you just knew that the man next to us would give it their all every single play during the season.”

David McCullum's stats at Waterford Mott

(Year – Games – Record – Yards Passing, TD passes)

2016: 11 games, 6-5 record, 2,500 yards, 25 TDs

2017: 5 games, 4-1 record, 1,550 yards, 16 TDs