2011 Belton quarterback Davis Ash's commitment helped write a positive narrative for Texas at the position (photo by the author).
2011 overview -- Denton Guyer QB JW Walsh's early commitment before even the first Texas Junior Day left Belton's David Ash as the top target on the board and the most compelling option. Walsh was my personal preference from the beginning, but Ash is a talented athlete in his own right and though he isn't as fast as Walsh, he's a capable runner and has a strong arm.
Ash's stock took a hit after his junior season, mostly because of an injury that limited him for most of the season. At the least, his willingness to commit despite the depth chart ahead of him speaks to his willingness to compete and that alone should endear him to Longhorn fans. Combine that with the all the other quarterbacks in the class having significant question marks and things went about as well as Mack Brown could expect in 2011 at the quarterback position.
Wish List and Watch List after the jump...
Matt Davis, Klein Forest -- Here's what you really need to know about Davis, per an SEC assistant coach ($) who saw VY play in high school:
I don’t know if he lives on the same street as Vince Young, but there’s no doubt that he’s in the neighborhood.
The highest of praise indeed and the comparison is as valid as any made between an up-and-coming dual threat quarterback in Texas and the legend who finally brought another national championship home to Austin. That is to say, only slightly valid, hence the qualification above.
Davis doesn't have the pure height of Young at around 6-2, but there is a similar electricity when he has the ball in his hands, combining strong speed, excellent feet and balance, vision, and the toughness to finish runs in critical situations. Physically, John Chiles is a comparison that is more apt from a frame standpoint than Young, but Davis has better feet and there just isn't the same type of doubt surrounding whether or not Davis can stick at quarterback. Where the comparison to Young stands is that, like Young, Davis is a superlative athlete playing quarterback who has the presence to inspire belief in his teammates through his unwavering belief in himself -- Daivs just has it. Just oozing from his film.
However, like Young, Davis is also raw throwing the football at this stage. The physical ability is there, but mechanically Davis has a long way to go, especially in terms of his footwork and shifting his weight into his throws, as well as overall accuracy. Davis must also learn to more consistently put his throws more on a line downfield -- at the next level, cornerbacks will be fast enough to recover and make plays on passes thrown so much air under them (Matt Leinart excepted). Overall, his mechanics need so much work that it's the only major concern about Davis.
However, Davis has both expressed a dedication towards improving and begun putting in the necessary effort to improve. His playmaking on the field shows an indominable will to make plays and that makes it hard not to believe in his ability to refine his mechanics to the extent that he can be an effective passer at the a high level of college football.
After all, even being from Vince Young's neighborhood is more than good enough, right?
Matt Davis Klein Forest vs Dekaney 2009 (via mrphilwill1)
Gimme Factor (for Sunkist): Four and a half Gimme's out of five
Trevor Knight, San Antonio Reagan -- Shaping up as the early top pro-style quarterback in the state, Knight is also a solid runner who has some ability to make plays with his feet, although he projects as merely an effective scrambler in college rather than a player who can run the zone read series. With that being said, Knight also looks like the type of player who could increase his speed and agility when he gets in a collegiate strength program without being underdeveloped physically.
As the pro style tag suggests, it's his arm talent that makes him stand out among his peers. His drops are consistent, his footwork sound, and it results in impressive mechanics that hep him maximize his arm strength. The rising Reagan star has the ability to put tremendous zip on the football when he gets out over his front leg -- the kid can spin the football with velocity and has the quick, compact release. His arm may fall slightly short of being nationally elite, but it's easily one of the best in the state in his class.
In the pocket, Knight shows an intuitive understanding of avoiding the rush and can often do a nice job of not letting his mechanics break down under pressure, delivering the ball downfield with accuracy while taking hits, a sign of strong concentration and toughness. In high school, when his footwork breaks down, he has the arm strength to throw off his back foot, so he's got a bit of the Brett Favre-style gunslinger in him. He has the arm strength to get away with it in high school, but will it translate to the next level? Not as easily, obviously, so he would be well-served in becoming more consistent in that area.
At 6-2, Knight is much like Davis in that while he lacks prototypical NFL size (defined here as 6-3 or above), he has more than enough height to be effective in the collegiate game and his above-average athleticism helps him stand out when compared with other pocket quarterbacks who also have strong arms. A lifelong Texas fan, Knight could become the obvious choice and lone commitment at the position if Matt Davis and Texas happen to head in different directions.
Trevor Knight 2012 Quarterback SA Reagan Highlights (via MommaG59)
Gimme Factor: Three and a half Gimme's out of five
Zed Woerner, Marble Falls -- More of a sleeper candidate, Woerner impressed Jeff Howe enough to earn the title of a "poor man's JW Walsh ($)," not at all a back-handed compliment, as least not to an admitted Walsh fanboy like myself. Listed as a dual threat quarterback, Woerner isn't as athletic as Walsh, but has the physical tools and intangibles to increase his stock with a strong junior season.
Gimme Factor: Two Gimme's out of five
Brooks Haack, Katy -- Leading a high school powerhouse like Katy to the state championship game in the highest classification as a sophomore is no small feat -- that's the major achievement already on the resume of the rail-thin Haack. Standing 6-1 and extremely generously listed at 180 pounds, Haack probably goes no more than 150 pounds soaking wet at this point and the major concern is that he has such a thin frame, all the way from his legs to his upper body. In other words, he doesn't have a particularly projectable frame.
The Katy signal caller does have a strong arm for his size and, like Knight, maximizes it with strong footwork and a quick release ($). With his experience on one of the biggest stages in high school football anywhere in the country, Haack's maturity and intangibles are not under question. What is under question is his ability to add muscle mass to his frame become durable enough to make it through the rigors of a season in major college football.
Gimme Factor: Two and a half Gimme's out of five
The quarterback situation at Texas already represents an embarassment of riches with Garrett Gilbert, Connor Wood, and Case McCoy all on campus and with significant amounts of eligibility remaining, as well as the commitment from David Ash in the 2011 class. Ash already made the decision to ignore the depth chart to attend the school of his dreams, will another top quarterback be able to make the same choice in 2012?
Don't underestimate the confidence of a player like Davis, the type talented enough to disregard any depth chart at any school in the country. It's also the case that Davis' mechanics are raw enough that it could take him several seasons of maturation in college before being capable of throwing the ball well enough to keep defenses honest, making him a better fit in the class if he's willing to take his time refining his game in the pocket.
And though it seems like a no-brainer to pursue Davis, the class represents a major test of the team's offensive philosophy moving forward. Do Mack Brown and Greg Davis foresee a multiple offense often using a tight end and an H-back as the offense of the long-term future, or could the pendulum swing back towards a spread option offense truly featuring the zone read for the first time since 2007 or, arguably, 2005?
It's a major choice and so the safe pick could end up being a player like Knight, who is much in the mold of someone like Wood or Ash -- a quarterback with the feet to make plays under pressure when the pocket breaks down scrambling to pass or run, but not a candidate for a zone-read based offense. Where Davis would stretch the limits of Davis' creativity and ability to implement some of the evolutions in the zone-read series, Knight would fit seamlessly into whatever offense ends up showcasing the talents of Gilbert, Wood, and Ash.
The good news is that while Davis looks at times like a trascendent talent, if the coaching staff decides that they want a more refined pocket passer to fit what looks like the current vision of the offense moving forward, there's so much talent at the position already that Davis will not make or break this class.
Young certainly demonstrated the viability of a running quarterback running a Greg Davis offense and the appeal of better numbers in the running game is strong, but the most recent lesson is that of Colt McCoy at the Rose Bowl this year -- relying on the quarterback in the running game can lead to catastrophic results in the biggest moments. Is that a risk to which Brown and Davis are now extremely averse? The recruitment of Matt Davis may provide some answers.