There are several characteristics – both as a player and as a person – that Gilbert High football coach Derek Zellner enjoys about his quarterback, Will Plummer.
He’s a natural leader both on and off the field, and has the type of personality that makes him easy to talk to. He remains calm in the pocket, and can often extend plays with his legs if the pocket breaks down.
Zellner admits Plummer wasn’t always this way. His playing style used to be the exact opposite.
“His maturation from being so wild and crazy to now being dialed in, it’s amazing,” Zellner said. “But he can still be fast and furious. I compare him to Brett Favre. He’s not afraid to pull the trigger.”
Plummer first played at the varsity level as a sophomore, but as a tight end and linebacker for the Tigers. He was often on the receiving end of passes from his older brother Jack, currently a quarterback at Purdue University.
Zellner gave the older Plummer control of the offense, trusting him to audible out of situations. More often than not, it worked. Jack threw for 2,861 yards and 35 touchdowns his senior season. He only allowed seven interceptions.
“Jack and Will are the same in some ways, but different in the way they play,” Zellner said. “Jack was more reserved and had his cards close to the vest. Will can be a bit more fiery.”
The younger Plummer made the switch to quarterback last season, and immediately established himself as one of the best in the state.
His strong arm allows him to throw an accurate deep-ball with ease, often resulting in big plays last season. And it’s safe to say Zellner isn’t afraid to let him loose.
Against Sunrise Mountain last year, Plummer completed 41 of his 70 attempted passes for 668 yards and 6 touchdowns. Gilbert lost the game, but it was one of the most exciting match ups of the 2018 season.
“Coach Zellner’s offense is a quarterback’s dream,” Plummer said. “I knew I had to step up last season, and I think I did that for the most part. But I’m still not satisfied.”
Plummer finished his first season as varsity quarterback with 3,229 yards and 25 touchdowns. He also led the team in rushing with 515 yards and 3 more scores.
Colleges began to take notice of his skillset in October, when the University of Colorado offered a full scholarship. North Texas, Oregon State, Oklahoma State and Arizona quickly followed through December.
On Jan. 29, Plummer was offered by Duke. But his mind was already made up. He committed to Arizona on Jan. 30.
“The coaches down there played a role,” Plummer said. “Coach (Taylor) Mazzone saw something in me that others didn’t. He explained to me how my game would fit into their system and really just after getting to know him I knew it was the place I wanted to be.”
Although senior year is still ahead, Plummer has shut down his recruitment. He is dead set on Arizona.
Plummer admits he feels like a weight has been lifted off his shoulders now that his college decision has been made. He wanted his senior year to be about his team and their quest for a championship, not about which school he would attend after it’s over.
“A lot of kids go on visits and are being entertained by a lot of schools so they miss summer workouts,” Plummer said. “I think those are pretty important. High school is the reason I will get to college so I want to pay my respect to that and have a good senior year with them.
“I’ll be in town all summer so we can get our work in and hopefully have a good year.”
Plummer has been impressive in several 7-on-7 tournaments Gilbert has taken part in so far this summer. He’s had the chance to work with several incoming freshman who may find themselves at the varsity level toward the end of the season.
But he has also strengthened the bond he has with seniors Tyler Hironaka and Briggs Dupree, as well as junior tight end Wyatt Zellner, who will be some of his top targets next season. Williams Field transfer Blake Barnhart will also be a key contributor when he becomes eligible after the first five games.
One of Zellner’s favorite attributes of Plummer is his ability to lead by example. He expects the composure he showed as a leader last season to carry over in 2019.
“Will, the junior, was the one who stood up on senior night last year and talked,” Zellner said. “Not one senior stood up and said anything. It was the junior quarterback rallying the troops.
“He’s a leader and he’s good for this team.”