About 50 miles northwest of Hollywood, not lengthy after Sam Darnold ended an exhausting session because the star of the Pac-12 Convention’s media days, a quarterback provided a ball up into the swirling winds of Ventura.

A receiver sprinted beneath and caught it for a landing.

“OK!” a teammate yelled from the sideline on the quarterback. “OK, I see you Ricky City!”

Stripped of context, City’s presence right here wouldn’t be thought-about irregular, and it might not qualify his profession as a bust. He’d dedicated to Alabama however flipped to USC, then transferred lower than two weeks into coaching camp, to Arkansas. He by no means sniffed the sector, however he labored arduous and stayed out of hassle. Arkansas coach Bret Bielema wished him properly as City returned house to Ventura School, a junior-school stopover, to hunt a Division I beginning job.

The difficulty is, City as soon as promised all that Darnold has turn into — or at the least he was advised he did by coaches, recruiting providers and nearly everybody else. The Trojans provided him a scholarship earlier than they did Darnold. By early 2014, a consensus of scouting providers ranked him the No. 1 prospect in his class.

The designation trailed him like an anchor.

“You possibly can blame recruiting websites like ourselves,” stated Brandon Huffman, director of recruiting for Scout.com. “You possibly can blame us as a result of we topped him. We ranked him No. 1. And a whole lot of occasions that does put strain unnecessarily on youngsters.”

Standing close to the sideline, Ventura coach Steve Mooshagian stated when City got here to this system, “I do not need to use the phrase that he was just a little ‘gun-shy,’ however he was very tentative. He was afraid to throw an interception, afraid to throw a nasty ball. And it did not appear to be he was having enjoyable.”

Mooshagian stated the important thing to City’s reinvention is straightforward: Study to like enjoying once more.

Mooshagian’s aim is to reverse a course of that started in City’s sophomore yr of highschool, when he moved from the Bay Space to play for Ventura St. Bonaventure. The large debate in recruiting circles was whether or not City or Josh Rosen, now at UCLA, was the subsequent huge quarterback. Most selected City.

City’s father, Ricky Sr., advised Bleacher Report in 2014 that his son acquired one hundred twenty five letters on the primary day schools have been allowed to ship them. He acquired at the very least 7,000 in all.

“It undoubtedly forces you to develop up fairly fast,” the youthful City stated after his exercise was over. “There’s a whole lot of issues that you need to cope with. There’s lots of people which might be relying on you and making an attempt to control you.”

Hassle started earlier than City’s junior season when St. Bonaventure fired coach Todd Therrien. City needed to modify to a 3rd coach in three years. Then he injured his knee. Earlier than it had absolutely healed, he was again at recruiting camps. It was a mistake.

“He seemed like a totally totally different quarterback than he did the yr earlier than,” Huffman stated. “You are taking a look at him as a sophomore considering, ‘Oh my gosh, he is this good now, how good is he going to be in two years?’ To now, ‘Oh my gosh, what occurred?'”

Everybody had theories. Everybody shared these theories.

“Think about making an attempt to take golf classes from dozens of various coaches a yr, every with their very own concepts on how you can create the right swing,” City Sr. stated in 2014.

City’s confidence disappeared. He hesitated. He held onto the ball too lengthy.

He, not Darnold, was the jewel of USC’s class, however he struggled in his first spring with the Trojans. His switch got here as a shock, and he nonetheless prefers to not speak about it. There was no single factor that made him depart, he stated. He left it at that.

“He is sort of simply buried all that from the previous,” Mooshagian stated.

Arkansas followers greeted his switch with elation.

“There was that notion on the market that Ricky City’s Tim Tebow or one thing, he is the savior,” stated Bob Holt, a reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette who has coated the Razorbacks since 1981.

City favored the coaches at Arkansas, however he was buried on the depth chart. Bielema advised reporters that City “was poor in ‘Hoganese,’” Bielema’s time period for Arkansas’ offensive language. It was as if “we’re talking French to him,” Bielema stated.

Mooshagian has recognized City for years, however by the point he enrolled at Ventura this winter, “It was onerous to also have a dialog with him,” Mooshagian stated. “I feel he did not know who to belief.”

Ventura has grow to be a well-liked spot for revival. Its earlier two quarterbacks have been Division I rebounds: Ty Gangi (who got here from Colorado and went on to Nevada) and Jake Luton (Idaho, Oregon State).

Six Ventura quarterbacks since 2013 have ended up on Division I groups. Brad Odeman transferred to San Diego State, Case Cookus to Northern Arizona, Conor Regan to Northern Colorado and Michael Goggin to Idaho State.

“They will come right here they usually can take that freakin’ weight off their shoulders,” Mooshagian stated.

City has gained seen confidence because the spring. He doubts much less. He overthinks much less. Relations have given him his area.

“I feel lastly he is simply stated, ‘Look, let me do that alone right here. I do not need anyone telling me what to do. I’ll make my very own thoughts up,’” Mooshagian stated. “And I respect that.”

Mooshagian believes quarterbacks typically thrive at Ventura as a result of there’s nothing to lose.

“I feel there’s all the time expectations, particularly coming from the place I got here from and whatnot and my previous,” City stated. “However it’s undoubtedly good to only have the ball in my arms once more and simply do my factor. Yeah, it feels good to only chill out just a little bit and know that I’m the man right here and simply take pleasure in it for what it’s.”

City believes he can nonetheless make an impression for a Division I workforce. He needs to seek out someplace he can begin.

After the exercise was over, Mooshagian walked towards the sideline with City.

“I am simply glad he is smiling and having enjoyable,” the coach stated.

He put his arm on City’s shoulder, and City let loose amusing.

“That is what I advised him,” Mooshagian stated. “The primary time, I stated, ‘Ricky, are you having enjoyable but?’ And he stated, ‘I am beginning to.’”