High School Quarterback Todd Marinovich Is Already Aiming for the Pros

updated 12/17/1984 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 12/17/1984 AT 01:00 AM EST

As Penn State coach Joe Paterno once said of gifted tight end Ted Kwalick: "What God had in mind there was a football player." That's exactly what L.A. Rams talent scout and fitness coach Marv Marinovich thought when his wife, Trudi, gave birth to son Todd 15 years ago. Since his weaning, Todd says he has eaten nothing containing sugar, white flour, preservatives, artificial flavoring or coloring. From age 4 or so, he has followed a program of aerobic exercise under the direction of his father, who monitors his strength, flexibility, endurance and hormone levels. Todd has never tasted a Big Mac, never unscrewed an Oreo to eat the creamy inside first, never scarfed a twin pack of Twinkies. But, by God, the kid can play football.

Though only a freshman at Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, Calif., he was the starting quarterback on the varsity and directed his team to the Orange County play-offs, leading the county with 2,019 yards passing in 11 games. "His potential is unlimited," says his coach, Chuck Gallo, a low-key former West Pointer.

That's just what his dad, an ex-boxer and former Oakland Raiders lineman, likes to hear. Based on Marv's studies of professional players, he and Trudi, a former high school swimming champ, have been programming their son to be the perfect pro quarterback—"If that's what he wants," adds Marv cautiously. "Our goal has always been to expose him to as many things as possible and to let him make up his mind what he does with it." As for the stringent diet and exercise regimen, Todd figures, "my father knows what he's talking about."

Coach Gallo predicts that the 6'3", 170-pound quarterback will be one of the most heavily recruited college football prospects in America. Indeed, Marinovich has already been contacted by a dozen colleges. He currently favors Stanford. "Todd's got the physical and mental ingredients to be the best around," says Gallo. "And he's been brought up in the right environment." In other words, nature plus nurture have produced a natural.

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