Sunday, June 7, 2009


Everyone, please settle down.

We see this story almost every year.

A great example of this is Chris Leak. Here was a guy who did everything he was supposed to do in high school and was highly recruited by everyone, but I wondered then, “What’s the big deal? He’s 6’0 tall. The NFL will never give him a chance. No matter how ‘good’ he is.” As it turned out, he won a national title with Florida, but that was after being a pretty big disappointment under Ron Zook and he really won that title because of Florida’s offense under Urban Meyer, and their suffocating defense and overall team speed. Oh, and Tebow did a lot of damage as a true freshman that year. Heaps has similar hype as Jimmy Clausen (incomplete, although a disappointment thus far) and Chris Leak (won a title, but will not be remembered for that).

Clausen was the golden boy of all golden boys. He was heralded as the messiah. He had tremendous success in high school and even before then he was being tutored by Steve Clarkston. People were making ridiculous claims like Clausen could start for several college programs as a 13-year-old kid, a claim even Clarkston called ridiculous. But that didn’t stop the fawning. Clausen was a boy wonder. He would immediately lead whatever team he joined and become a surefire No. 1 draft pick in the NFL. I’m not sure what the rush is. Why is it necessary to hype a kid when he hasn’t done anything yet? There are scores of kids who were alpha dogs in high school who end up flaming out in college or guys that were superhuman in college who turn out to be nothings in the NFL. It’s a weird phenomenon. Aren’t there enough guys who are actually doing something right now in their leagues that warrant the hype? I understand that an unknown quantity is sometimes more appealing than the known, but that’s mostly because you’ve had a chance to see what you’ve got and pick apart the flaws. With the unknown, all you’ve heard about is how great this kid is, and since you haven’t had a chance to see the kid perform yourself, you take their word for it.

He must be great. says so! has him ranked No. 1 in the Country!

Settle down, please. He’s only a name. You know nothing about him. Unless you have followed a kid’s career to the point of watching all of his games, then there is no way you have any idea if he’s good or not. You only know what other people tell you. It’s ridiculous to get overly excited or overly bummed regarding a recruit. Recruiting matters, but leave that to the guys who actually do the recruiting. We have no idea how much they want a kid or not because, for one, they aren’t allowed to talk about it.

Clausen hasn’t done a thing at Notre Dame that puts him anywhere near the hype that he was generating. I remember reading about him and wondering why he was so hyped up, because he looked undersized. I suppose in college a guy can be successful despite his size, but isn’t this just about getting to the NFL? That’s how I evaluate these guys, and by “evaluate” I mean, watch them through a somewhat educated layperson’s lens. The NFL is not kind to small QBs, it never has been and I doubt it ever will be. Drew Brees is an exception, and a notable one, because he’s been overwhelmingly successful. However, there are so few guys that size who actually get a chance to play or even make a roster. The NFL looks at production in college, but when it comes to QBs, they really, really, really focus on potential. If a QB is considered too small, then these guys have got their minds made up no matter how insane the QB’s stats were in college. Look no further than Graham Harrell. No QB was anywhere near him from a production standpoint over his career, but he went undrafted and probably won’t make any team. That’s the NFL. It’s cruel. But no matter how polished a guy is, if he doesn’t have the physical makeup, it’s usually time to head up to Canada.

I’m very confused as to why these recruiting services continually list these undersized QBs as the top QBs in the country. Is it because they put up great stats? And what about these other QBs who actually have, or project to have, NFL size? Where are they in these rankings? If they are low, why are they so low? Are they always late bloomers? I’m confused by the whole thing.

I know that UW fans are likely crushed by the whole Heaps-going-to-BYU thing, but honestly how much of that is tied to his actual ability? I’m assuming he’s a great high school player, based on what scouting services and Hugh Millen tell me. They ought to know since they’ve seen this guy play and I’ve only seen him play one game (last year’s state title game). He looked very good to me, but like so many others before him, he also looked small. I would have been happy if he signed with UW, but only because of what it means for the whole UW program from a stature perspective, not from an actual production perspective. It seems to me that if people are disappointed that Heaps is not going to play at UW, it’s because he’s a local guy, he’s been hyped up nationally, and UW didn’t get him. I’m bummed about it too, but for perception reasons only.

Even if he is such a highly ranked QB, I’m actually a little relieved that he’s not going to UW. I’m sure he’s as “great” of a kid as everyone says he is, but it sure seems that he (and more likely his family) lacks any true humility. How else do you explain his family hiring a PR firm to handle his announcement? How else do you explain sending a press release announcing that he’ll make his decision the next day? How else do you explain flying to Provo, Utah to make the announcement? And another thing, I’m baffled as to why a player “announcing” where he’s going to school is an event in the first place. Aside from attention (for the player, player’s family, and the school) is there any other reason to do it? I don’t hate the players for doing it, but that doesn’t mean I like it. It’s uncomfortable. Essentially the whole system is in place so that the kid can be lauded and applauded. How strange and empty is that? So I’m relieved he’s not going to UW because he may be talented and poised, he may be a little too poised for my liking. He seems a bit entitled to me and kids like that don’t necessarily turn out to be the best fighters when faced with adversity.

Another reason that I’m relieved that he’s not going to UW is that he may have maxed out already. He’s been coached for so long, does he really have that much more to improve on? Perhaps the reason we’ve seen these scouting services hype players like Heaps is because he is technically better than his peers because he’s had the benefit of great coaching. From what I’ve read, Heaps has been driving to a special QB coach in Oregon for years now, almost every weekend. Obviously he’s going to have a much better understanding of throwing mechanics and reading defenses than some kid who has bad coaching, is less affluent than Heaps’s family, and has less involved parents than Heaps. So, for all we know, Heaps, while very skilled and talented, may have reached his peak. He may not get any better because he’s so prepped now. This other kid may have more talent than Heaps, may have more size than Heaps, and may deal with adversity better because he’s been put in more challenging situations than Heaps, but just hasn’t had the opportunity yet. That opportunity may present itself in college or even later in the NFL.

I only know what I’ve read about Heaps, so I have no insights into his true character. For all I know, he may turn out to be Joe Montana. But I do know that when a kid is given everything he wants so early in life, the end result is not always pretty, in sports or elsewhere.

Take a look at this list of names and you’d do well to calm down about not getting the highest ranked QB:

2002 5 star QBs
Ben Olson (BYU, then UCLA)
Trent Edwards (Stanford)
Vince Young (Texas)
Marcus Vick (Virginia Tech)
Andy Goodenough (ASU)
James Banks (Tennessee)

2003 5 star QBs
Kyle Wright (Miami)
(notables: Chris Leak, 4 stars; Jamarcus Russell, 4 stars; Brady Quinn, 4 stars; Matt Ryan 3 stars)

2004 5-star QBs
Rhett Bomar (Oklahoma)
Anthony Morelli (Penn St)
Chad Henne (Michigan)
Xavier Lee (Florida St)
Matt Tuiasosopo (Washington – chose baseball)
Robert Johnson (Texas Tech)

2005 5-star QBs
Mark Sanchez (USC)
Ryan Perrilloux (LSU)

2006 5-star QBs
Matthew Stafford (Georgia)
Mitch Mustain (USC)
Tim Tebow (Florida)
Brent Schaeffer (Ole Miss)

2007 5-star QBs
Jimmy Clausen (Notre Dame)
Ryan Mallett (Michigan)
Tyrod Taylor (Virginia Tech)
Cameron Newton (Florida)

2008 5-star QBs
Blaine Gabbert (Missouri)
Dayne Crist (Notre Dame)
Terrelle Pryor (Ohio St)

2009 5-star QBs
Matt Barkley (USC)
Garrett Gilbert (Texas)
Russell Shephard (LSU)

2010 Rivals 5-star QBs
None (Jake Heaps is a 4-star QB)

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