At some point, every athlete is going to face adversity, whether it's on or off the field. David Fales, San Jose State's senior quarterback, has gone through more than his fair-share of adversity during his career.
After spending time at four colleges, with five head coaches, Fales has become an overnight riser in the "draft community". Behind the scenes, he's been a work in progress for years.
Fales wasn't an amazing talent coming out of Palma High School. Actually, he wasn't even his high school's starting quarterback until the starter went down four games into his junior year. One local newspaper stated that the quarterback Fales was replacing was the “best player in the county”. While Fales made the most of his high school career, including starting the rest of it from that point on, his less than two years of tape lead him to the University of Nevada-Reno, the only school that made him a scholarship offer per Rivals.com and Scout.com.
The season he enrolled at Nevada, Chris Ault's pistol-option offense started to take off, as did starting quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Fales quickly realized that the option based offense wasn't made for him. He was not a running quarterback. He wasn't going to run that offense. He even told Sports Illustrated that he remembers Ault telling him, “You're probably not going to play here.”
Fales left Nevada after one season, throwing away the safety net of a scholarship to join a junior college team with the potential to transfer to a different Division 1 school in a year or two, which would hopefully be a better fit for himself. The school was Monterrey Peninsula College. David Fales, who grew up in Monterrey County, was going home.
MPC's head coach, Mike Rasmussen, was a lot like Fales, spending time at a JuCo (Fresno City College) before playing quarterback at a bigger school (Michigan State). Rasmussen, who Fales had a relationship with prior to the transfer, didn't just hand over the job to Fales, though. During Fales's first five games at MPC, he rotated in and out with another quarterback. The sixth game, though, he took over completely, became a hit, and never missed another start.
Along with success came the spoils. With Wyoming's starting quarterback, Austyn Carta-Samuels, leaving, there seemed to be room for Fales in the quarterback competition. While it wasn't a can't-refuse-offer, Wyoming let Fales join the team in 2011 as a non-scholarship player, but they let him know they would have a scholarship in 2012 if he accepted. Fales accepted the offer.
As true freshman Brett Smith became the clear leader in the quarterback corp, Fales realized that he wasn't going to get much of a chance at Wyoming, either. Fales could wait a year, maybe play if there was an injury to Smith, and earn at least a for-sure scholarship in 2012, or head back to MCP, play there for another year, and hope to land a scholarship from another team in 2012. The strong-headed Psychology major decided to leave Wyoming after about a month and returned back to MCP for his redshirt sophomore season.
Again, Fales wowed locals, but barely made a splash on recruiting sites. Again, they rated him as a two-star prospect, the same as he was coming out of high school. Wowing locals was enough this time, though. San Jose State came to Fales offering him a chance to battle with two other quarterbacks for their starting job in 2012. Fales, who would have gone to Indiana State, an FCS school, had San Jose State not called, accepted the offer.
This is when the legend of David Fales starts to slowly flash in the national media's eye. After beating out the other quarterbacks for the starting job, Fales faced his toughest opponent of the season fresh out the gate: Stanford. Stanford had just come off of an 11-2 season (losing only to Oregon and Oklahoma State in overtime), but many assumed that since Andrew Luck had recently left the program, Stanford would start its decline back to the bottom of the Pac-12. For that reason, San Jose State's 17-20 near victory made a much smaller splash at the beginning of the year than it would have if it was the twelfth game on each team's schedule. Still, the Spartans' ability to keep it close with the Cardinal would become relevant to the media later on in Stanford's 12-2 season.
Like Stanford, San Jose State also had a record breaking season. The Spartans had their first 11 win season in over seven decades, and had won a game in San Diego (vs San Diego State) for the first time in six decades. The biggest reason for a spike in wins? David Fales, who lead the NCAA with a 72.5% completion percentage (he also threw more than two-thirds of his passes for completions against the mighty Stanford Cardinal.) The only two quarterbacks ahead of him in efficiency were A.J. McCarron and Aaron Murray, who had blue-chip weapons and linemen surrounding them.
Things finally seemed to have smoothed out in David Fales's career. He had finally found success as a starting quarterback of a FBS team. Unfortunately, head coach Mike MacIntyre also found success, and Colorado wanted a piece of it. After signing a five-year deal with the University of Colorado, MacIntyre left a head coaching vacancy behind for the bowl game.
After the bowl, Ron Caragher, San Diego's coach post-Jim Harbaugh, took over at San Jose State. Caragher has reportedly switched up the offense significantly compared to its 2012 version. Caragher runs a pro-style West Coast offense, while MacIntyre ran a very multiple offense which featured Fales taking snaps from under-center, the shotgun, and the pistol., but what's another scheme change for a quarterback who had already seen four different play callers in his college career?
Going into his senior season, Fales is one of the top quarterbacks in the country. No system will change that. While he did go as a counselor to the Elite 11 camp, he was snubbed for a role at the Manning Passing Academy. There are still some people that Fales has to win over.
At the Elite 11 camp, Fales beat out two of the top NFL Draft prospects heading into 2013, Teddy Bridgewater and Tajh Boyd, in the throwing competition. When asked about it, Fales responded, “It really doesn't (matter).” At this point, Fales has realized the only thing that matters is production on Saturdays.