Sports Of All Sorts Scattered Between The Dots……….Texas High School Quarterbacks In The Pros………………………………….By RC

With yet another high school football season on the horizon I find myself reflecting back on the past as I spent 27 years this time of the year gearing up for yet another opportunity to win that ever elusive championship whether it be at the district level or state level. In my recollection, I never thought that I would look at so many rosters of professional teams and see the number of names hailing from Texas, at the quarterback position. The reason is certainly not because here in the hotbed of high school football that those guys in the past did not have the athletic ability to play that position at any level. They did but in both high school and college they were living in run-oriented offenses where passing was the last option……………………….Just remember that the offensive craze of the sixties, seventies, and part of the eighties was the highly successful Wishbone which was invented on the University of Texas campus. So many of the QB’s in the ultra-successful college programs all too often had spent their time reading the option and pitching instead of passing. The big, quick, and physical defensive ends at the pro level made the idea of a quarterback pitching the ball and then taking a helmet in the middle of the chest, play after play, completely out of the question. Thus many of those guys would get drafted late and tryout only to realize that not only were their passing skills lacking but their ability to read secondaries instead of defensive tackles and ends as well……………………….As we head into the new season though many rosters have quarterbacks who honed those playcalling skills in the high schools of Texas. None right now stands out any more than the cagy veteran and Super Bowl winning quarterback Drew Brees. It’s hard to believe that he played in the backyard of the University of Texas at Austin Westlake High School and yet had to take his talents to Purdue to be appreciated. But the Longhorns aren’t the only ones who goofed, the San Diego Chargers cut him loose to make room for Phillip Rivers who isn’t bad but who also doesn’t own a Lombardi…
………………..This season a lot of eyes will be on the Cleveland Browns to see if they stick with Longhorn and Jim Ned High School ex Colt McCoy or will turn the huddle over to 27 year old rookie Brandon Weeden. McCoy who has spent two seasons of basic futility in Cleveland has been saddled with more blame for their woes than he deserves. Before they can blame any one player, they need to get the QB position some protection as well as solid targets………………And speaking of ex Longhorns, Vince Young, who in my opinion was the best college quarterback ever, will once again back up Michael Vick in Philadelphia. Young the former Houston Madison schoolboy has been his own worst enemy as he squandered a great opportunity in Tennessee. But he is in a great place with the Eagles with a head coach like Andy Reid who has a knack for making former misfits very productive. The offense there is also geared to the talents of Young who plays much the same way as Vick…………………What a year that Andy Dalton had as a rookie with the Cincinnati Bengals after a stellar career at TCU. The Katy High School product proved over and over that his guidance of the Horned Frogs to a number 2 national ranking his senior year was no fluke. The best thing that I observed while watching him was that he seemed very cerebral in his play and was completely undaunted when he made a mistake. His future looks very very bright…………………….There is no one that I am pulling any harder for that Kevin Kolb who shined at the University of Houston and Stephenville High School. I believed that he should have been the Eagles quarterback after the departure of Donovan McNabb. He deserved to be the man under with Vick as his backup. I know that Vick has seemingly unlimited potential, but until that potential produces a trophy he will always be just that: unlimited potential. Hopefully Kolb can stay healthy and put together a year in Phoenix that brings back memories of his record setting days at Houston and Stephenville High School. Plus to be a little selfish, I want this because I am friends with his father-in-law Joe Bob Huddleston………………..A pair of former Texas A&M players will be under the watchful eye of the Aggie Nation and Texas as well. First Stephen McGee looks to spend yet another season as backup to Tony Romo on the Cowboy roster. The Burnet High School product sure seems like he will spend most if not all his career in a backup role. Had he shown the ability to be a starter there surely would be other teams seeking his services by now. As for the other former Aggie Ryan Tannehill: well he looks to be the real deal. The Dolphins certainly were impressed along with a host of other teams seeking a quarterback who had the skills to take them to the promise land. The former Big Spring Steer looked extremely impressive at times at Aggieland but for whatever reason could not lead the Maroon and White to more than just an average bowl. Without pointing fingers, I will just say that I don’t blame him for that and for the time being believe that he will become one of the top tier quarterbacks in the game before he is done……………………….No one over the past couple of years has done any more to breathe new life into a rotten football team than what Highland Park and Georgia product Matthew Stafford has done. Much like Detroit itself the Lions had fallen on hard times, maybe worse than any other point in their storied history. Stafford was very good at Georgia but playing in the best conference in the nation, he at times looked only average. But man did he shine the last couple of years in the motor city. Look for him to continue to take the Lions to new heights and maybe wake the memories of another former Highland Park and Lion quarterback by the name of Bobby Layne……………………….This brings us to the cream of the 2011 crop: Robert Griffin (RGIII) and Andrew Luck. I’ll start out with Luck since he was drafted just ahead of Griffin. The graduate of Houston Stratford High School and Stanford signee was so impressive in his collegiate career and the NFL combines that the Indianapolis Colts were willing to part company with future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning for his talents. I don’t think that Luck will disappoint especially if the Colts keep him protected and get him the same kind of receivers that Manning had. However, I agree with Tony Dungy, who once said that those receivers were great receivers because of Peyton Manning. Now we’ll see if Luck can bring that same kind of magic to Hoosier land………………….As for Robert Griffin III, his play speaks for itself. Speaking of reviving a struggling program that had been a conference doormat for too many years, this Copperas Cove star followed coach Art Briles to Waco and together they performed miracles that had not been seen on the Baylor campus since the days of Grant Teaff. The Redskins will keep a watchful eye on the immensely talented Griffin who might could have been an Olympic Hurdler had he decided to pursue that route. RGIII has not only proven his worth on the gridiron but his unflappable character away from the game makes him an even more promising star. I for one believe that character counts even at the professional level and very much so at the man under position. I hope for nothing but the best for the Heisman winner and will not be surprised if he doesn’t become the rage in the nation’s capitol……………………..There are a host of other Texas school boys in the pros serving in the number two or three spots on rosters. Probably none more noted than Chase Daniel out of Southlake Carroll and Missouri. He backs up Drew Brees in New Orleans and only time will tell if he ever gets a shot at being the man. Also the kid who followed Kolb at the University of Houston and out of Abilene Wylie; Case Keenum should get a strong look from the Houston Texans. He was signed as an undrafted free agent and here’s hoping that he proves to be a real steal for the Texans …………..So what is the reason for the recent influx of star quarterbacks from Texas in the NFL? I guess for the avid follower of football in the Lone Star State it is a matter of opinion. As for me I give a lot of credit to the wide open pro style offenses that we see in just about every program in the state. High school coaches have certainly embraced the move from the once prominent ground game to the current air attack. And as far as I’m concerned the one coach at the collegiate level who deserves the most credit for that is former Texas Tech head coach Mike Leach. Just like in the sixties when Darrell Royal and Emory Bellard introduced the wishbone attack and Bellard later perfected it at Texas A&M, Leach brought in a mixture of high octane passing attacks from the “Run and Shoot” to the “West Coast Offense” and began enjoying success like never before at Raiderland. Royal had won a couple of national championships with the wishbone and Bellard came within a couple of games of doing the same at A&M. With that high school coaches all over the state started using that offense in hopes of bringing the same type success to their programs. So when Leach and his offense threatened to bring a championship to Lubbock, the coaches around the state gained confidence in the wide open attacks and began to, once again, adopt the philosophy to fit their programs. That along with summer football leagues known as Seven On Seven where passing and catching are featured are probably the main reason for the development of top quality signal callers from Texas……………………For a state that has been known to produce some of the greatest of the greats in professional football, it has not been since the days of Sammy Baugh from Sweetwater and Bobby Layne that the national pride of high school football could boast not only of the quantity of outstanding professional quarterbacks but the quality of these players as well……………………So let’s go Texas high schoolers. Keep up the tradition as us old coaches and fans everywhere prepare to settle in for yet another great year of watching the best schoolboy football in the nation. Who knows who we will see calling the plays in the NFL in the next three or four years…………………RC

About Ronnie Clifton

Ronnie Clifton was a Texas Football Coach for 29 years. In addition to football, Clifton also served as the head coach in basketball and both girls and boys track. “I loved being involved in and playing sports as a kid, and I soaked up every ounce of available information about any sporting event; I also love to write. What better combo for me than becoming the writer of a sports blog?”
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