High School

How the quarterback position is evolving for top high school prospects

How the quarterback position is evolving for top high school prospects

From professional to youth football, the quarterback position is evolving and as a direct result, the way by which high school quarterbacks are being evaluated and ultimately recruited is undergoing a metamorphosis as well. 

For decades most major collegiate programs scoured the prep landscape looking for  “prototypical” quarterbacks — those standing between 6-4-to-6-6, weighing 220-235 pounds, with big arms and just enough mobility to climb the pocket, if nothing else. It was a common belief that meeting these guidelines was a prerequisite to being successful at the position. To this day, quarterbacks who “look the part” are aptly labeled, “pro-style”, while their more athletic and/or diminutive counterparts are labeled “dual-threat”, a moniker that simultaneously signaled, ‘less than’ . 

 “I really wish we could get rid of those labels,” said Elite 11 assistant head coach, Paul Troth (who also serves as an analyst at NBC Sports Washington). “You see every day, and on Sundays that you can’t just be a statue and play quarterback. It doesn’t matter if you’re running option or spread — I think you have to be an athlete to be a quarterback. And what’s beneficial of that thinking, for a coach is you can put your best athlete in that position and he can lead your football team and do great things.”

It is not uncommon for dual-threat quarterbacks to experience massive success in high school; presently, Chase Williams helped Good Counsel win the WCAC championship, Jayden Sauray led Wise to an undefeated season and Caleb Williams is arguably the top quarterback in the country. Despite preferable win/loss records however, it has often been the case that quarterbacks whose athletic qualities met or exceeded their arm talent were eventually asked to change positions. This was the case with former QB’s-turned-wide receiver, Julian Edelman, Randall Cobb and Cordell Stewart, just to name a few. A practice that Troth believes is outdated.   

“The development [of the quarterback position] is a detriment to those folks who have thought they could hide a kid back there [at quarterback], or that ‘my son is not as athletic, so I’m going to put him back there’, and now you’re finding out they're kind of getting pushed out of the way,” he said.

“I enjoy seeing the evolution of the position because for so long, it was ‘oh, a quarterback is just somebody who can throw’, but now you have to be dynamic. Now you have to be a playmaker to excel at the position”.

There is perhaps no greater example of the development of the position than Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson. Because his skill set was not prototypical, Jackson was merely a 3-star student-athlete and ranked 409th nationally in high school. After opting to attend Louisville, due in part because he would be allowed to play QB, Lamar grew into a two-time finalist and ultimately becoming the youngest player to win the Heisman trophy. Despite his success, many still doubted whether Jackson should continue to play QB at the highest level.

 On February 19th, 2018, former NFL executive and talent evaluator Bill Polian suggested Jackson switch to wide receiver, 

“Exceptional athlete, exceptional ability to make you miss, exceptional acceleration, exceptional instinct with the ball in his hand, but clearly, clearly not the thrower that the other guys are,” Polian said in the now-infamous scouting report. “I think [he should play] wide receiver”.

Nearly two years into his career and Jackson has silenced his critics. His non-traditional skill set has allowed him to turn his team into a championship contender and himself into an MVP candidate. 

He’s not the only one opening doors for young QB’s who may not pass the “eye test”, Patrick Mahomes also thrives off of his athleticism, while Drew Brees, Russell Wilson and Kyler Murray all stand less than 6-foot tall.

“Hopefully we can get rid of those labels moving forward [pro-style, dual-threat],” said Troth, “because, I love DeShaun Watson’s explanation, ‘I’m not a ‘dual-threat’, I’m not a ‘drop back’, I’m not a ‘pocket’, I’m a quarterback’ and so that one word should encompass what the position requires.


 

DeMatha takes home WCAC title with 70-56 win over Paul VI

DeMatha takes home WCAC title with 70-56 win over Paul VI

The senior-laden DeMatha Stags defeated Paul VI 70-56 to capture the 2019-2020 WCAC basketball crown. Led by Earl Timberlake’s 21 points, the Stags pulled away late to capture their second title in three years.

DeMatha entered the final with an overall record of 29-3, but one of their losses came at the hands of the Panthers, 74-65, on February 16th. Monday night, they were determined not to allow recent history to repeat itself. 

The Stags seized the lead early in the first quarter and each time PVI got close, a DeMatha upperclassmen made a big play. 

“Our seniors stepped up for us,” DeMatha coach Mike Jones said. “Obviously everybody is going to talk about Earl [ Timberlake] and Hunter [Dickinson], but we had five seniors who pushed us through all the tough times we had this year. It was a roller coaster ride, but our five seniors stepped up for us all night and really all season long.”

Undoubtedly, DeMatha won as a team on the big stage provided by American University, but it was Earl Timberlake’s performance that stole the show. On a night where the lights were the brightest, Timberlake dazzled the raucous Bender arena crowd, with a virtuoso performance sure to go down in the annals of WCAC lure. 

Not only did he score 41 points, he grabbed nine rebounds and tallied five assists, routinely setting his teammates up in position to make open shots. 

“I'm a team player, I do whatever needs to be done to win,” Timberlake said. “I don’t care about the stats, I just want to win at the end of the day.”

Timberlake got it done on both ends of the floor. His winning efforts included five blocked shots. Serving as a defensive anchor for the Stags, he protected the rim on countless occasions, routinely swatting potential PVI buckets from the sky.

“He’s a big-time player and the I don’t even know if the University of Miami realizes how good of a player he is. I’ve said it and ill keep saying it, there’s not a better defender in High School or College basketball than Earl Timberlake right now,” Jones said. “He’s gonna play basketball a long time.”

Late in the second half, PVI went on a run. After trailing by double-digits, the Panthers' backcourt began to heat up. Trevor Keels knocked down a jumper and Jeremy Roach’s floater cut the Stags lead to 53-50 midway through the fourth. 

With all the momentum on the side of the Panther’s — the game suddenly hanging in the balance, Timberlake responded. The Hurricanes commit hit a contested three-pointer from the elbow over the outstretched hand of his defender. After a DeMatha stop, forward Jordan Hawkins pushed the ball to the middle of the floor before centering it to Timberlake at the top of the key. With three seconds remaining on the shot clock, the senior took a single dribble to his right before pulling up for what would be a three-point dagger.

“I had been struggling with my three-point shot against them, but I never failed to trust the work I put in the mornings and late nights,” Timberlake said. “I took those shots and believed in myself.”

DeMatha’s coach believed in him as well. Jones noted he’s done this entire career.

“This was the same thing he did as a sophomore. We won against Gonzaga behind him hitting big shots for us and getting big shots on the other end.”

Jordan Hawkins scored 17 points and Michigan commit Hunter Dickinson added 10 points and five rebounds for the Stags. Duke commit Jeremy Roach and Trevor Keels paced PVI with 22 points each. 

The victory is DeMatha’s ninth WCAC championship since 2000.

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Top girls hoops recruit, St. John's Azzi Fudd, pens heartfelt letter to Kobe, Gigi Bryant

Top girls hoops recruit, St. John's Azzi Fudd, pens heartfelt letter to Kobe, Gigi Bryant

The shocking deaths of Kobe and Gigi Bryant continue to impact many across the sports world.

On Monday, hours before a memorial service took place honoring the deaths of the two of them, top women's basketball recruit Azzi Fudd wrote a heartfelt letter published by Sports Illustrated about her personal relationship with the Bryant duo.

Fudd, who plays high school basketball for St. John's College High School in Washington, D.C., began the open letter by describing when she first reached out to Kobe, asking if she could work out with him and Gigi when she was in Los Angeles. Just a few hours later, Kobe answered, and Fudd spent time honing her craft and learning from Kobe and Gigi.

Fudd described the workout as "so detailed, structured and high level."

"During the workout, you took the time to pick apart and fine-tune my moves on a level that not many other people can do, while Gigi, being my partner, helped me with learning new moves," Fudd wrote. "After the workouts you hung around to chat with us like you were just an everyday, normal dad."

Kobe, a father of four daughters, dedicated plenty of time growing the sport of women's basketball. That's something that Fudd was incredibly grateful for.

"You raised the platform of women’s basketball," Fudd wrote. "You had so many more plans but in that short time you moved the game forward by making it cool to watch and support women and no longer cool for people to make their sexist and negative comments toward the game."

It's impossible to read the entire letter without tearing up. You can read the full letter here.

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