First in a series of stories profiling top high school football players players by position. Today, Ty Dieffenbach, Agoura quarterback.
Discovering a quarterback sometimes is as easy as finding a penny on the ground. You just have to be alert and a have good eye for talent.
Agoura High football coach Dustin Croick saw 6-foot-5 sophomore receiver Ty Dieffenbach throwing the ball to a fellow receiver while running routes after practice in 2020, the COVID-19 season. Agoura was in need of a quarterback.
“OK, we need to try this,” Croick told himself.
Dieffenbach had never played quarterback.
“I threw it in and I guess he was impressed,” Dieffenbach recalled. “He told me to throw the ball on a route. We kept working. I thought it was a joke. I wasn’t actually going to play quarterback. Coach convinced me to put the work in. I got the starting spot.”
As a 16-year-old junior last season, Dieffenbach passed for 2,669 yards and 34 touchdowns. His days as a receiver have ended. Feeling more confident and comfortable with every week of acceptance by teammates and college recruiters, Dieffenbach is a rising quarterback prospect who’s stature and standing show no sign of dissipating. He committed to Nevada Las Vegas in June and is set to lead the Chargers in their opener on Aug. 19 against Lompoc.
“It’s very cool to feel all these colleges want you to come,” he said. “Visits are great to see what it is like, how they run their program. It’s a very unique process.”
The making of a quarterback is still a work in progress. Dieffenbach benefited last season from having a veteran receiving corps. This season, there will be young receivers but a veteran offensive line. He’ll have to provide leadership instead of relying on one of his receivers to keep him positive.
He remains grateful to Agoura graduate Jake East. There was a time during his early practices at quarterback when he was struggling and probably questioning whether he could play the position. It wasn’t junior varsity football — it was varsity and much faster. That’s when East, the team’s standout receiver, sent him a text one night, “We’re going to need you the next two years.”
Dieffenbach said the text made a huge difference. “It inspired me,” he said.
So now he’s ready to be that same leader for the young players this fall.
“I definitely think I’m ready for this,’’ he said. “I know young guys are going to be looking up to me.”
Croick, a former Agoura quarterback, said he wouldn’t have just tabbed Dieffenbach to play the position because of the arm strength he saw from those practice throws. Croick detected something else.
“I think we can teach kids how to throw, how to read defenses, but the leadership has to be a natural thing,” he said.
Dieffenbach, who turned 17 in June, was a pitcher for the baseball team, has been lifting weights and continues to learn how to recognize blitzes and make decisions regarding where to find his young receivers who might be confused at first while gaining varsity experience.
“I think it’s going to be a big year with adversity,” Croick said. “It’s good for him leading into college.”
It’s going to be a great season for quarterbacks in Southern California with the likes of Los Alamitos’ Malachi Nelson (USC commit), Santa Ana Mater Dei’s Elijah Brown (17-0 as a starter) and Mission Viejo’s Kadin Semonza (Ball State) leading the way.
So much has changed for Dieffenbach since becoming a quarterback.
“I’ve always loved football but never really expected this to happen,” he said. “Even when I figured out playing quarterback, I never expected much.”
Croick is happy he was able to find his quarterback among his receivers.
“He fit in perfectly,” he said.
Quarterbacks to watch
Name, School, Ht., Wt., Yr., Comment
Elijah Brown, Mater Dei, 6-2, 180, Jr. Has never lost a varsity game in high school
Izzy Carter, Corona Centennial, 6-2, 183, Sr. Arizona State commit is a dual threat
Pierce Clarkson, St. John Bosco, 6-0, 195 Sr. Louisville commit should have best season yet
Aidan Chiles, Downey, 6-3, 180, Sr. Oregon State commit is very good when healthy
Ty Dieffenbach, Agoura, 6-5, 190, Sr. Former receiver keeps improving by leaps and bounds
Nico Iamaleava, Warren, 6-6, 205, Sr. Tennessee commit is talented in many areas
Malachi Nelson, Los Alamitos, 6-3, 180, Sr. USC commit sets the standard for excellence
Kadin Semonza, Mission Viejo, 6-1, 190, Sr. He will pick apart secondaries this season
Ryan Staub, West Ranch, 6-1, 190, Sr. Colorado commit has quick release
CJ Tiller, Rancho Cucamonga, 6-2, 190, Sr. Boise State commit has giant upside
Tomorrow: Cincere Rhaney, Gardena Serra running back.