Connor Brewer enrolled early at Texas to have a chance to compete for the quarterback job (Photo courtesy of Under Armour).
Name: Connor Brewer*
School: Chaparral (Scottsdale, AZ)
Ranking (Rivals): Four out of four (5.8)
- Texas (committed 2/7/2011)
- Arizona State
- Texas A&M
The Scottsdale star was not able to attend the Texas summer camp before his junior season, but he knew enough about the program from his sister's commitment to the school as a swimmer that he already had a legitimate interest in the school before making the trip, listing the Longhorns as among his top five at the time ($).
About a year before, Boise State offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin had made his way down from Idaho to Arizona to help Chaparral coach Charlie Ragle install elements of the Bronco offense. Surely it was just a coincidence that the Firebirds had a young freshman quarterback preparing to take over the reigns. Surely. Using elements of that Boise State offense, Brewer led his team to a state championship the following season.
Flash forward again to that summer before his junior season. During that time, Brewer was proactive both visiting schools (UCLA, USC, Stanford, Georgia, Tennessee) and also reached out to other programs ($) to let them know of his interest, including Texas:
My dad has spoken with coach (Greg) Davis from Texas. He has my tape and has seen my highlights and has watched some game film. He wants me to come and check out the school. He wants me to go to the camp. Unfortunately I wasn't able to make it this year. Hopefully next year I'll be able to come out there. It's obviously a great school and probably the best in the nation right now.
So when the fall approached, Brewer was ready to take a visit to Austin to check out the program. Even though the Longhorns were in the midst of the frustrating 2010 season, the trip still made a positive impression ($) on the prep signal-caller:
I know they're disappointed with the game, that they didn't get the win. But that didn't bring my look on Texas any lower. I felt like with a win or loss, it's a great program, great tradition. On the field during pre-game, it was kind of electrifying. It's an amazing place, a fun place to be.
We kind of went and looked around the facilities and things. I liked it a lot. It's a great places around there. We talked more specifics about football, what they're recruiting, how they do everything.
With coach Brown, we went into his office and talked to him for a little bit. We talked about everything. He's a great guy, great character, a great coach and he has tons of knowledge. It's a fun time being around there, hanging around with coaches that have so much experience in the game.
Brewer declined to name a leader at the time, but his prior relationship with Harsin was probably a significant positive as the first Texas Junior Day approached in the spring and the quarterback prepared for a pre-Junior Day visit to the Texas campus, as well as a Junior Day at Texas A&M.
For whatever reason, either the Longhorns coaches or Brewer were playing things close to the vest, as Brewer told Orangebloods that the new staff informed him that they were still going through their evaluations ($). However, he did make this somewhat cryptic (but eventually telling) statement:
I feel like Texas is a school where they want to offer somebody who is going to commit right then and there. I feel like there's a good chance of that happening. If they offered me, that would be great. I feel like that would be a great place for me to go play. So now I just have to wait and see.
It turns out that the offer came before the Junior Day, in a bit of a change in strategy from previous seasons and even though the move didn't result in much momentum early, Brewer was integral in securing commitments from both Cayleb Jones and Johnathan Gray and was one of the prominent promulgators of the Texas Gang or Die movement. And even though he failed to even secure an official visit from fellow Arizona native Andrus Peat, it certainly didn't seem as if it was for a lack of effort.
Back to the commitment days before the first Junior Day. Brewer shed some light on his post-visit comments from days before:
My mind was pretty much made up. I had a meeting with my head coach and my parents today. We pretty much came to consensus that this is the place for me. I don't want to be anywhere else. Playing for coach Brown and coach Harsin is going to be an honor.
Yeah, buddy. Brewer added that it was more about the atmosphere in Austin, rather than just the fact that his sister swims for Texas:
It was definitely the atmosphere that the coaches brought to me and showed me. That made it an easy decision for me. I couldn't think of one bad thing, one place I'd rather go than Texas. I love the coaches and academic and sports wise, I can't think of anywhere else I'd rather go.
Brewer got an early start to his Texas career by enrolling for the spring semester in 2012, which will give him a chance to compete for the quarterback job before his eligibility even officially begins.
Physically, Brewer has unsurprisingly grown two inches over the last year and a half to about 6-2 and still has some room to grow, as both brothers are 6-4. One of those brothers pitches for the Diamondbacks and the other for UCLA, so there are clearly some athletic genes in the Brewer family beyond just his sister, related to arm strength especially. Listed at 185 pounds, Brewer still has significant room to fill out in his upper body. His frame is better than average and some of his upside depends on his ability to get to 215 pounds or so in college to aid his durability. If ends up in the 200 range, there could be some concerns.
Throwing the football, Brewer is polished and sound for his age. Brewer consistently keeps the ball high and doesn't drop his elbow on his wind-up, so his release is quck and clean, with an ideal arm slot at or above the earhole on his helmet. Those mechanics allow him to maximize his arm strength, which at this point is generally considered anywhere from average to good and has some projectability as he increases his strength and possibly grows a bit more.
It's on the deep fades that Brewer really shows off his chops as a quarterback, consistently hitting his receivers in stride with soft passes showing a combination of touch and ability to use the arm strength he does have to still put the ball on a line. Throws down the seam reflect the same ability, as his mechanics and touch allow him to get the ball over linebackers. It's on intermediate throws outside the hash marks where his lack of elite arm strength and leverage keep him from being able to really zip the football. Once again, though, his good mechanics and solid footwork allow him to get the football to the target.
On the run, Brewer sometimes struggles to consistently spin the football, but he's capable rolling right or left. As always, Brewer is polished for his age in those areas and it's not a stretch to project improvement in that area.
Completion percentage and highlight film don't substitute for game film or watching a player in person. What his completion perctange does suggest is that at 64%, Brewer was operating the offense with efficiency. What the highlights suggest is that his compeltion percentage is all the more impressive because the team clearly takes shots downfield. Whatever bad decisions he did make only resulted in five interceptions on the season.
As a runner, Brewer's 40 is variously listed at between 4.7 and 4.8, with the latter number probably closer to the truth. There's not much burst or acceleration there, despite a reported 33-inch vertical. The overall rushing numbers aren't impressive -- barely over 150 yards on about three yards a carry. On the positive side, Brewer did at times show the balance and strength to break some arm tackles, but if he did it consistently, it certainly wasn't reflected in the numbers or the highlights. Basically, he's a pro-style guy with some measure of athleticism.
A look at the expectations facing Brewer:
Expected to compete with Case McCoy for the back-up job behind David Ash, the ideal situation would be for Brewer to take a redshirt season to give him time to develop and avoid wasting a year of eligibility, as happened to McCoy. And even though McCoy apparently didn't receive the news he wanted when he put out transfer feelers, there are still no guarantees that he will be with the team past the spring, increasing the pressure on Brewer to emerge as a capable back-up. There's also an outside shot that Brewer could give David Ash some serious competition for the starting job, but as polished as Brewer is -- more polished than Ash out of high school -- expect a transition period as Brewer gets used to the offense and the speed of the Texas defense.
ESPN evaluation ($):
Brewer is an accomplished, polished passer for the high school level. He has adequate-to-good height and the frame to really blossom and add bulk. He is a pocket passer that is a very good athlete capable of keeping a play alive when he has to. His methods have a Philip Rivers-like quality and feel. Shows a bit of an unorthodox, ¾ delivery that is tight and compact. Is very fluid and consistent in his throwing mechanics from his feet up to his shoulders. Plays with confidence and shows very good command of the game. Plays in a shotgun, four-wide set, but he is not a dink and dunk passer that just piles stats. He is asked to make throws to all three levels of the field and also makes a ton of throws on designated roll-outs and when flushed from the pocket. Is calm and balanced in his set up. Can hit the plant foot and drive the comeback to the opposite sideline. He shows very good arm strength, we are not sure if he has rare or elite arm strength, but he is certainly capable of making every throw on the field. Shows good RPMs and the ability to sneak the ball into tight spots on short and intermediate throws. Does a great job on the deep ball with touch, timing and accuracy. Purposely throws the back-shoulder ball down the sideline with very good awareness. Seems to have an innate sense of where to go with the ball and a clock that works him from one target to the next. His overall accuracy to all areas of the field is very impressive. He can float the deep ball at times, but otherwise throws a very catchable ball. He has very good feet in the pocket to buy time, softly move around while keeping his eyes downfield and is a better runner than he is probably given credit for. Brewer will make some plays on the run, can throw across his body and will find ways to keep the chains moving. While he stands at around 6-foot-2 his release can be somewhat low, but he gets the ball out very quickly which helps compensate against potential batted balls at the line of scrimmage. Brewer is playing at a high competition, championship caliber level and he has consistently won. He shows physical and mental attributes that lead us to believe he could be on of this class's premier passers. Excellent prospect that may not have as steep of a learning curve as others once he gets to the second level.
Brewer is one of the more refined passers in his class, as he enrolled early at Texas with no major mechanical issues. Whether it's mostly a result of his athletic genes coming from an athletic family or having the opportunity to travel and work in a variety of camps and settings with high-quality instructors, Bryan Harsin won't have much, if anything, to clean up with Brewer.
The former Chaparral star gets good, quick drops, keeps his feet underneath him before his throws, and improved from his sophomore to senior season in both his arm strength -- which is now solid, if not particularly an asset -- and in spinning the football on the run.
After watching his performance in the state championship game as a senior, one particular play stood out where Brewer rolled to his left and rounded off his approach to get momentum towards the line of scrimmage, as well as squaring his shoulders properly to throw a strike to his receiver.
The offensive line did a strong job of protecting Brewer in the game, allowing him to work through his progressions without defenders in his face. He was able to get the ball out on time and hit a few of his signature deep passes with touch, but it was also apparent that star running back/wide receiver Devonte Neal (who had more than 1,000 yards both receiving and rushing as a senior) made things much, much easier for him.
At the Under Armour game, the results were much less positive for Brewer. The practices didn't exactly reveal him to be a standout in that setting and while there probably wasn't a lot to take from his performance during the game, what there was to take from it wasn't good. As his offensive linemen struggled to protect him even long enough to let any type of routes develop, Brewer didn't show the athleticism to make significant positive plays with his feet or step into throws and complete them downfield. His night was ended prematurely following a monster hit from Mario Edwards and another defender that left him with a mild concussion.
Unsurprisingly, the game revealed some of his physical limitations, which will probably include the inability to make some NFL-type throws to the outside from the opposite hash in college, although there are plenty of successful college quarterbacks who can't either and have way less athleticism than Brewer, who is not statue in the pocket by any stretch.
While Mack Brown has indicated that the quarterback competition will be open through the spring, Brewer isn't likely to seriously compete for the job unless his touch downfield becomes such an overwhelming asset that it outweighs the experience advantage of both other quarterbacks and the advantages that David Ash has in size and arm strength, as well as the chance to take more reps and step into a leadership role.
Ideally, Brewer redshirts and takes a season to work adjusting to the college game and avoid burning a season of eligibility for a handful of plays. However, if Case McCoy leaves the program in the spring, the coaches may not have a choice but to develop Brewer as the back up unless Jalen Overstreet can come in and wow the staff.
Like Garrett Gilbert, Brewer comes to Texas as a winner with three straight state championships under his belt and a 41-2 career record as a starter. Additionally, he set the Arizona big-school record with 100 career touchdown passes, throwing an interception once every 40 pass attempts. Let's just hope that Brewer has a more successful career than Gilbert.
Note: This is not the forum to start rehashing the tired Ash/McCoy debate. This thread is to discuss Brewer and what he can bring to the table. The comments will be closed if this guidelines can't be followed.