In a move that was hardly unexpected, but solidified the quarterback position in the 2014 class, Denton Guyer's Jerrod Heard committed to Texas, news that broke on Tuesday evening.
The 6-2, 180-pound Heard held offers from Arizona, Arizona State, Baylor, and LSU before making his pledge to the Longhorns known. The no. 53 prospect in the country by 247Sports, Heard is ranked by the same service as the no. 2 dual-threat quarterback in the country and the sixth-ranked player in the state of Texas. So, yeah, people who know like him.
Heard makes five commitments already for the Texas class less than two weeks after extending official offers for the 2014 class, joining Abilene Cooper wide receiver Lorenzo Joe, San Antonio Brennan defensive end Derick Roberson, Aldine Eisenhower running back Donald Catalon, and Fort Worth All Saints running back/fullback Daniel Gresham.
The commitment came after a weekend visit to Austin and rumors over the last day or so that the Longhorns had a silent pledge.
At this point, he's the consensus top pick as the best quarterback in the state, and makes the sixth consecutive class in which Texas has landed their top prospect, going back to Garrett Gilbert in 2009. Much like 2013 commit Tyrone Swoopes, the attention paid to Heard at a Texas summer camp was the clincher in speculation that the Guyer product was the top signal-caller on the board for the 'Horns.
In Harsin Longhorn fans trust. Or should, at least. David Ash made noticeable strides from the Kansas State game to the Holiday Bowl to spring. Harsin wanted Swoopes and Heard. Plenty yet to be written about both, but he has his guys.
Our own The Audit Horn summarized why the take makes so much sense for Texas:
Really like what Harsin doing at QB recruiting. Sandwiched super high ceiling Swoopes ('13) with high floor Heard ('14) and Brewer ('12).— Michael H. Pelech (@michaelpelech10) August 15, 2012
Heard had big shoes to fill this season stepping in as a sophomore for the departed JW Walsh, the immensely successful Guyer quarterback was competed for the starting job at Oklahoma State this spring against Wes Lunt. After some struggles adjusting ($) to his new role, Heard rallied through the middle and late stretches of the season to earn district Offensive Newcomer of the Year honors:
I'd say probably our second district game. We won and everything started to click with my reads and everything I needed to see to distribute the ball. At that time I knew I can do this, I can handle this and play my game.
His final numbers? As a sophomore, Heard went 130 of 223 for 2,286 yards, 28 TDs and 10 INTs. Not bad, right?
At 6-2, Heard doesn't have ideal size for the position, but his true dual-threat credentials help make up for any limitations imposed by his height. With speed that appears to be somewhere in the 4.5 range, Heard is highly dangerous in the zone read game, as well as scrambling to make plays with his feet. During his sophomore season, he ran for 650 yards and five touchdowns.
Throwing the football, Heard has a compact delivery without wasted motion. Since Guyer runs a multiple offense that works out of both the shotgun and under center, Heard is probably more developed as a drop-back passer than most signal-callers his age who operate exclusively from the gun and also has experience with his ball-handling executing multiple run fakes on the same play.
Heard shows evidence of being able to move in the pocket while keeping his eyes downfield, as well as the ability to get his feet set and step into those throws when he has enough time to do so, an underrated quality for a quarterback that Robert Griffin III did as well as any quarterback in recent memory during his time at Baylor.
Aided by BCS-level receivers like Connor Crane (Stanford) and Ellis Jefferson (offers from Colorado, Mississippi State, and Purdue), Heard had some large windows to throw into as a sophomore, but showed strong accuracy in many of those situations in his highlights, more often than not dropping the ball in without the receiver having to break stride.
On a highlight reel, it's difficult to get a good read on his decision-making abilities in adverse situations, but throwing 10 interceptions in 223 attempts is a decent number, but ideally a quarterback is closer to 30 or more attempts between interceptions than just over 20, at least at the college level.
Here's the assessment of Heard after seeing him live at the Colleyville Heritage SQT back in early June:
2014 Denton Guyer quarterback Jerrod Heard -- In strong contention for the title of top quarterback in the state for his class, Heard started as a sophomore at Guyer and looked in full command on the offense -- a maturity beyond his years. Still at a slight 6-3, the true dual threat will have to add some muscle frame to his frame to survive the pounding he will take in college football.
As a quarterback, Heard has good mechanics except for his elbow, which he would be well served to keep higher while in the pocket to further shorten what is already a pretty compact throwing motion. He has plenty of arm strength, as evidenced on multiple throws well across the field.
At times, he can spin the football with the best of them, but the ball did flutter on him when throwing downfield, though it didn't seem to impact his accuracy, which was pinpoint the great majority of the time. Heard isn't a full-fledged gunslinger in the mold of a Jay Cutler or Brett Favre, but he did force the ball into small windows on several plays against Jesuit, one of which led to that late interception -- it's possible that maturing in terms of working through his reads could solve that issue.
With offers from LSU, Arizona State, and Nebraska, Heard is already a hot prospect on the recruiting trail. After camping at Oklahoma on Sunday, Heard said that he plans on visiting Austin for the three-day camp this week and also wants to take a summer unofficial visit to Baton Rouge. Camps at Texas A&M, Baylor, and TCU are also on the schedule.
It may be hard for many Texas fans to get excited about early commitments in the 2014 class, but Heard is a lifelong Longhorn fan and Harsin's guy.
Plus, the assessment here is strongly in favor of taking Heard -- he's the best quarterback in the state at this point and that designation is unlikely to change.
Get excited, y'all.