With five stars next to his name and a 6-foot-4, 205-pound frame, Garrett Gilbert was primed to make such a splash as a college quarterback that he was bound to make everyone forget the name of his predecessor at Lake Travis High, just outside of Austin, Texas.
After all, Todd Reesing didn’t measure 6 feet standing on his tiptoes and he boasted only a three-star rating from Rivals.
Texas offered Gilbert a football scholarship. Reesing would have been lucky to be offered a ride by the hometown team if he were standing in the rain with lightning bolts sparking the ground beside him.
Gilbert threw 27 touchdown passes and 40 interceptions in a career he split between Texas and SMU. Reesing threw 110 touchdown passes and 30 picks for Kansas.
Reesing didn’t look as good in an airport, which of course means nothing. He looked great in a traffic jam, weaving his way to daylight, rewarding receivers for sticking with the broken play.
How many times must quarterbacks such as Reesing and Heisman Trophy winner Johnny “Football” Manziel bust records and prototypes, win games and rabid fans, before college recruiters look beyond the measurables? When will the scouts learn to use their stop watches to time how long a quarterback makes plays last?
Surely, some FBS coach somewhere has keen enough vision to see the highlight video of Lawrence High quarterback Brad Strauss, see him making plays that would make Manziel and Reesing sit up and take notice, and offer him a scholarship to play quarterback, right?
Wrong. So far, nothing much is cooking for Strauss, despite his reminding his high school coach so much of the guy who on Saturday night won the Heisman Trophy.
“They both can make a bad play good either with their feet or with their arm,” LHS coach Dirk Wedd said. “Both have unbelievable football instincts. I know it’s crazy for anyone to compare a high school football player with the Heisman Trophy winner, but there are so many similarities. They both see the field so well, and both are tremendous winners who make everyone around them better.”
Wedd watched Manziel lead Texas A&M to victory against No. 1 Alabama.
“It was amazing,” Wedd said. “He probably kept drives going six or eight times either by breaking contain or having someone miss a tackle on him, and then he finds the open receiver. That’s exactly what Brad did for us for three years. The play didn’t have to be blocked exactly right. He’d find a way to make the play good.”
His release is a little funky, but did that keep Philip Rivers from accomplishing great things at North Carolina State?
Strauss, the Johnny Football of Kansas high schools this season, had a streak of 111 consecutive passes without an interception. He’s accurate, but because he’s 6-1, 180, misguided assumptions are made about his strength.
“He’s a 235, 240 (-pound) power-clean guy and a 425, 435 squat,” Wedd said of Strauss. “That’s unbelievable for a high school quarterback.”
Wedd rattled off the names of several FCS (Division I-AA) schools that have inquired about Strauss but so far haven’t offered a scholarship.
“Biggest shocker I’ve ever had as a coach, that’s for sure,” Wedd said.
Those who know how recruiting works suggest it would take a head coach falling in love with his tape and trumping a position coach for him to receive an offer from an FBS school. Assistants would be more likely to stick to prototypes because they’re less of a gamble.
“How about gambling on a kid who never has been in trouble in his life, is not going to cause problems at 1 in the morning and is going to be a great student-athlete?” Wedd said of Strauss, a 3.6 student who scored 27 on the ACT. “Does that weigh into it at all? It’s tough not to be disappointed in the process.”
All it takes is one coach to pull the trigger on a big-time playmaker. Baylor, Iowa State, Oregon, Stanford and Texas A&M were the only BCS-conference schools to offer scholarships to Johnny Football. The mega-heavyweights passed and watched him run and pass the Aggies to a two-loss season.
All it will take for Strauss is for one head coach to look at his video and see enough Johnny Football in it to offer a scholarship. In time, Strauss will make that coach glad he had the guts to let him take a sledgehammer to the silly prototype that calls for a tall, broad-shouldered block of granite.