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2021 NFL Draft: Introducing Reece Udinski, VMI’s sleeper quarterback prospect

Chuck Steenburgh/Sports Photo Guy

The 2021 NFL Draft class appears loaded with talent at the top of the quarterback class, but things get a little muddier when solely analyzing the senior class. Many of them will have a chance to separate themselves from the pack throughout the season, and every senior quarterback in the country will try to prove themselves worthy of a 2021 Senior Bowl invite.

One surprising name on the star-studded events watch-list is VMI quarterback Reece Udinski.

Udinski recently spoke exclusively with MCM about what a Senior Bowl invite would mean to him, the importance of the upcoming season, and which notable quarterback he compares his skill-set to.

JM: With so many restrictions in place due to the pandemic, how are you finding ways to work out and stay in shape?

RU: I’ve been working out at my house and trying to lift as often as I can. I’ve been doing everything I can with what I have at the house. I’ve also been hitting the local field to throw with a wide receiver that attends The University of Albany. His name is Ricky Johns and he’s been my best friend since high school. We’ve been lucky enough to get together and throw the ball around.

JM: You set a career high in yards last season, and you’ve thrown roughly 20 touchdown passes two years in a row. The upcoming campaign is your senior season. What are your goals for your final year?

RU: I just wanna build on what I did last year. I think I’ve gotten better every single year. I’ve consistently progressed in all aspects over my three years at VMI. I just wanna build on last year’s performance. The plan is to do better in 2020 than I have previously.

JM: Senior Bowl director Jim Nagy recently mentioned your name as one to watch for a 2021 Senior Bowl watch-list. What did that mean to you? How big would it be for you to get an invite to the Senior Bowl?

RU: I was very honored. It was really cool to see my name on that list. He mentioned so many great players on that list. The fact that I have his attention is huge. If I were to get the opportunity to represent VMI at the Senior Bowl, that would be big for both myself and the program. I’ve been blessed. If I have an opportunity to go down to Mobile after the season, that would mean the world to me. It just makes me wanna work even harder this upcoming season to make that dream come true.

JM: Absolutely. What can you tell me about the scheme that VMI runs on offense?

RU: We run a spread offense with some pro-style elements mixed into it. We operate mainly out of shotgun. I would compare it with what LSU did last year. We run a lot of RPO’s and try to get the ball out quickly. We take some shots down the field when we feel the opportunity is there. We like to spread the ball around. It’s a quarterback-friendly system. My coaches allow me to make some changes at the line. I read defenses and get us into the right formation. I love playing in our offense.

JM: I was just going to ask about your responsibilities at the line of scrimmage.

RU: It really took off after my sophomore year. My offensive coordinator last year was a coached name Brian Sheppard who is now at The University of Minnesota. He allowed me to make some checks at the line. We had a great relationship when he was at VMI. He trusted me and I really appreciated that. He allowed me to change plays and make checks at the line. I think that really helped me gain some confidence. He helped improve my overall play in a major way.

JM: How do you describe your skill-set?

RU: I think I’m a typical pro-style quarterback. If I had to compare myself to another player, I would say it’s Joe Burrow. I know that’s a lofty comparison with him being the No. 1 overall pick, but I see a lot of similarities in the ways we distribute the ball to our receivers. We’re both tough guys that like to stick in the pocket and throw the ball. When necessary, we can both move around and create plays with our legs. That’s how I see myself. I like to stand in the pocket but if the play breaks down, I’m not afraid to use my legs to extend the play.

JM: I love that. Do you have a favorite route or ball to throw?

RU: A common route that has become more popular these days is the inside fade. We love to run that route when we see man coverage. I definitely enjoy throwing that inside fade route.

JM: As you continue to chase your dream of playing in the NFL, the term “small-school” will be used against you, especially during the pre-draft process. How do you respond?

RU: It’s a term that I’ve already heard a lot. I play at a small school. Not a lot of people know about VMI. It’s part of my journey. It’s definitely more difficult to get noticed at a small school but it makes me wanna work even harder. Every year you see a bunch of guys from the smaller schools head to the next level and have a lot of success. It sets the standard for us current small schoolers. It motivates us to continue chasing our dreams. I hope to be in their shoes one day. It motivates me to work even harder.

JM: I love that. I’ve really appreciated your time today, Reece. In closing, what can VMI fans expect from Reece Udinski during the upcoming season?

RU: They can expect another great year from me. I wanna be the leader of the team and this offense. We took a big step forward last year. We beat a lot of our rivals last season. We just wanna build on that. Hopefully we win the conference championship.