Photo by Steve Angeli
Notre Dame Football Recruiting

Coach | 2022 Notre Dame QB Target Steve Angeli Possesses Tangibles & Intangibles

September 8, 2020

Steve Angeli‍ has seen his recruiting profile soar in recent months.

Since receiving his first offer after camping at Ohio State last summer, the 2022 New Jersey quarterback has piled onto the list with offers from Notre Dame, Oregon and Vanderbilt in recent weeks along with schools like LSU, Michigan, Penn State, Nebraska and many others in between.

The surge of offers has brought increased interest and scrutiny from recruitniks across the country, but Angeli’s focus is centered on his Bergen Catholic High School squad’s upcoming – abbreviated – season.

After splitting reps at quarterback with a senior captain last fall, Angeli enters this year as the clear starter and he’s preparing to make the most of his opportunity.

“He’s been chomping at the bit,” Angeli’s personal quarterback coach Matt Bastardi of EliteQB says. “He's adopted ownership of the team as you’d expect, running the offense, of course through his coaches.”

Angeli is holding himself and his teammates accountable; keeping guys after practice to work on a particular route that may be causing problems at a private school where many students, including himself, have close to an hour-commute home.

“That’s not stopping him,” Bastardi says. “He understands what’s on his shoulders. He’s good with it, he loves it.”

Those leadership qualities are vital at the position, especially at a program like Bergen Catholic, which has been a regional and national power for decades. Bastardi is convinced that experience will only prepare Angeli for the next level.

“He certainly is gifted,” the coach says. “He’s tall, long and strong kind of in the mold of Trevor Lawrence in terms of his physical build and characteristics, but there’s an aspect of his personality too that’s a key part of being a successful quarterback.

“If you’ve got that in your personality, you’re going to do very well at a high level in college.”

Bastardi has been preparing Angeli for the next level – whatever that next level will be – since the quarterback was going into fifth grade.

“Coach Bastardi has been like family,” Angeli says. “He’s one of the greatest mentors I could ever ask for. He’s more than a coach to me and my family. He’s really become part of our family. He’s been there through every step of the way.”

L-R: Angeli’s brother, Jack. Bastardi, Angeli, Angeli’s brother, Nick.

While Angeli has always been a physical standout, it was his ability to grasp the game at a higher level even as a youngster that caught Bastardi’s attention. Picking the brain of an elementary-schooler yielded impressive results such as pointing out the turn of a cornerback’s shoulders.

“It was obvious the kid had something between the ears,” says Bastardi. “Fifth grade, sixth grade for a kid to be saying that kind of stuff, that really stands out.”

The increased reps with his skill talent at Bergen this offseason and moving forward should only improve Angeli’s production.

“The more throwing he’s doing with his receivers, the better sense of timing he gets,” Bastardi says.

Bastardi expects Angeli to continue pushing himself to play the game at the highest level possible by combining his physical and mental gifts.

“I think there’s a tendency for young kids who have a pretty good arm to wait a little bit and drive the ball in there on certain routes,” he says as an example. “A lot of kids who have a big arm at the high school level get acclimated to getting by just throwing the ball hard especially if they play with a team talent advantage. You can get away with it at times when you’re not competing against D1 kids week in and week out.

“But with Steven, I don’t think that’s the case at all. Not only is he more intelligent but he competes everyday against a Bergen Catholic defense loaded with D1 talent.

“I'm fond of a verse in Proverbs (27:17) which reads, ‘As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.’ He is going to keep improving from getting more high-quality reps.”

Bastardi notes it requires both the patience to diagnose the defense’s coverage as well as the ability to make a split-second decision to pull the trigger.

“Milliseconds make a difference,” the coach says.

Those are the types of qualities Angeli brings to the position that may not leap out in a quick evaluation, which isn’t uncommon.

“Given the high level of talent in major college football, I think there’s a tendency at times for coaches to become enamored with the physical,” Bastardi says. “You see this kid at a combine, he’s throwing the ball 75 yards or the ball pops off his hand with a mid-to-upper 50-mile-per-hour throw.”

Bastardi reminds his younger pupils the origin story of Tom Brady, “He’s one of the greatest of all-time now and almost got overlooked in that draft.”

“You could see with some of those guys who were drafted ahead of him that it was largely a physical thing,” the coach continues. “Maybe they were a little more impressive looking physically or they threw the ball around with a little more pop or had a better 40 time.”

With Angeli, his leadership, intelligence quotient and demeanor needs to be factored into the evaluation, according to his coach.

“Watch the kids interact with him, watch him interact with the kids,” says Bastardi. “The more you watch him, the more you see that.”

Angeli credits Bastardi with helping accelerate his growth in those areas.

“I think I’ve improved the most with the full understanding of how to play my game, how to understand the best way to lead a team and be the quarterback and make the best plays overall whether it’s with my arm or my legs,” he says. “I’ve been able to learn what my strengths are as a player and how to maximize those as well as work on my weaknesses.”

But in addition to the intangibles Angeli possesses necessary to succeed at the position, Bastardi says he “certainly” has the physical skills and tools as well.

Angeli attacked the offseason, working hard with EliteQB and training with his older brother, Nick, who Bastardi notes played defensive line at Fordham.

“Nick's not a touchy-feely kind of guy and it was really good for Steven,” Bastardi laughs.

Bergen Catholic head coach Vito Campanile has been extremely pleased with the improvements Angeli made over the offseason, specifically pointing to an increased ability to throw the deep ball well.

Bastardi stresses quarterbacks keeping their arms loose and what he calls “long.”

“Once a week, we usually do a long toss program that I’ve developed over the years,” he continues. “Steven is built long, so he should have a natural inclination to generate length in terms of the throw. A long, strong lever usually equates to distance.”

While Angeli’s focus right now is on the upcoming high school season, he will have to juggle recruiting at the same time and has some very important decisions to make relatively soon. In addition to his family and high school coaches, he knows he can count on Bastardi.

“He’s always been a person and a mentor in my life I can call to ask for help with anything. It’s more than football with him and there’s no other guy I would want to coach me through everything that’s going on right now to help me become the quarterback and person I am.”

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