Vierneisel's move from WR to QB sparks Prospect's offense to record-setting season
It has been a storybook journey for Brad Vierneisel.
The Prospect senior went from being a virtually unknown wide receiver to one of the best quarterbacks in Illinois in less than a year.
His move to quarterback and his play to support that move completely opened up the Prospect offense. That enabled this year's Knights to become the most prolific in school history, averaging nearly 44 points per game.
Vierneisel had eye-popping stats to go with it.
He threw for a school-record 3,002 yards completing 68% of his passes (184-for-270). He also had 481 rushing yards.
But football is a game of touchdowns and that is where he really excelled, accounting for 45 total touchdowns. He threw for 38 of those touchdowns, rushed for six more and even caught a touchdown pass.
His play this season and leadership on and off the field was outstanding. And for that, he is named the Captain of the Daily Herald Cook All-Area Team.
Vierneisel moved to quarterback last spring. That's when Prospect coach Dan DeBeouf opted to move Frank Covey back to wide receiver, where Covey played his sophomore year.
Covey played quarterback last season until an injury shut his season down. Covey, who has tremendous speed and hands to go with it, had also agreed to play wide receiver at Northwestern.
The move had a tremendous effect on Covey as well. He finished the season with 68 receptions for 1,348 yards and scored 26 touchdowns.
Vierneisel had a career night on a Thursday during Week 4 against Maine South. He would finish the game 15-of-21 passing for 452 yards and six touchdowns. But it was a two-point conversion run with 40 seconds left as he dove over a Maine South defender for the 42-41 win that really brought him to the forefront.
"It was pretty crazy out there," Vierneisel said. "But it all worked out and it was so much fun."
In that game, Covey was injured early. Vierneisel rallied the team, spreading the ball out to six other receivers.
"He really showed what he could do," DeBeouf said. "He had that ability all season to get everyone involved in the offense."
For his play in that game, he earned honors from the Chicago Bears as their player of the week. He also was named second team all-state in 7A by the Illinois Football Coaches Association.
"I can't say enough about Brad and the type of person and player that kid is," DeBeouf said. "Holy cow. He shattered every Prospect record that is there. He was lights out."
DeBeouf pointed to the offseason where Vierneisel showed not just DeBeouf, but his Prospect teammates that he was ready to take the reins.
"His work ethic in the offseason and in the summer was terrific, DeBeouf said. "I think he had the utmost respect and trust from all of his teammates. It was all the extra work. I had to kick him off the field multiple times and send him home. He worked and worked and worked. And it paid off for him."
Vierneisel played quarterback as sophomore on the JV team. When Covey got injured last season, Vierneisel moved from wide receiver to quarterback. But an injury forced him out of the role until the state semifinals.
In the offseason, DeBeouf wanted to get Covey back to his natural spot of wide receiver, so he went to Vierneisel and asked him about playing quarterback.
"It was a difficult decision in the offseason," DeBeouf explained. "We talked about taking our Division I scholarship athlete and take him out of playing quarterback. But we felt that it was going to give us the best opportunity to win, and I think it worked out that way."
Vierneisel said he was ready for the challenge.
"Coach came to both of us and asked if we wanted to switch," Vierneisel said. "We went to work from there. We spent a lot of time working over the summer with both of us at quarterback. But once the season began, I took most of the snaps."
DeBeouf said that Vierneisel picked things up quickly.
"When we decided to make the move, it didn't take him long," DeBeouf said. "It was just over the spring and summer. We knew right away we made the right decision."
With his performance this season, Vierneisel, who is 6-foot-1 and 190 pounds, now has colleges looking at him. State schools Eastern, Southern and Northern have all expressed interest as well as some MAC schools.
Vierneisel would love to play at the next level. But all of that could be delayed thanks to the new transfer policy.
"I would love to play," Vierneisel said. "I'm not really talking to anyone. No one has reached out yet, but I am open to anything."