Jerrod Heard (Photo by the author).
Maybe you're excited about the newest Texas Longhorn, 2014 Denton Guyer quarterback Jerrod Heard, who committed on Tuesday evening. Maybe the scouting report posted last night wasn't enough.
Hopefully this will be. And there are plenty of reasons to be excited about Heard.
To hear his coaches tell it, they knew he was special early on. For Guyer head coach John Walsh, it was as early as seventh grade, the first time he saw Heard play ($):
Just the way he threw the ball and his presence on the field/ You can find a lot of guys that can run in seventh grade. But just the way he threw the ball so effortlessly, I knew he was going to be the guy.
Offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Lee Vallejo is a bit more of a recent convert, having truly joined the bandwagon last fall during a scrimmage against Aledo ($):
We called a pass play and there was a guy who came off the edge that our back just flat out missed. The guy had a free shot at Jerrod. He came fast, but Jerrod made a move to make him miss and in the same motion he hit [Stanford signee] Conner Crane in the corner of the end zone for a touchdown.
At that point. We really thought we might have something special.
A play several weeks later against Mesquite Horn simply provided confirmation for Vallejo, who has worked with numerous top-level quarterbacks in high school (including current TCU starter Casey Pachall):
He's scrambling and their stud linebacker (Baylor commit) has him by the jersey and was in the process of pulling him down. He was still strong enough to make the throw into the corner of the end zone for the touchdown as he's falling down. His eyes were down the field the entire time and he was looking to throw the ball.
At that point. We knew we had something special.
And, as good as Heard was last year, making a believer out of his quarterback coach and plenty of other people who saw him emerge for Guyer, the junior is still getting better:
He's a year older and a year stronger. You can see he's got more velocity. Watching him the first two practices it seems like it's slowed down quite a bit for him. Just in the questions he asks me, he understands why he's doing it and he knows where the ball is supposed to go as opposed to letting the play develop and trying to find where it's supposed to go. The progress he' made has sped up his motion and helped all of those little mechanical things that go with it.
Walsh acknowledged that it's tough to offer kids so far out, but had high praise for his quarterback:
When you offer a quarterback this early it is scary. But what I think makes it easy on Harsin, [Mack] Brown and [Major] Applewhite is everything is natural to him. If you watch him throw it's natural. He's a great runner with great instincts and just his knowledge of the game. They are getting a dynamic player.
Speaking of that Texas offer, when the Longhorns did extend it, it wasn't a hard decision for Heard ($):
I kind of knew when they had interest, but I was just playing the field. When they offered I knew it was a done deal.
Boom. Just like that, Texas landed their guy.
Besides the fact that Heard and his family are longtime Longhorn fans, several things made the choice to commit easy for Heard:
The hospitality. They always brought my family in and everything they did was family first. Also I will be familiar with their offense. It's similar to ours.
A good relationship with co-offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin that was established at the Texas summer camp helped, too:
He talks life before he talks football which is a big thing for me and my family. Because at the end of it I may or may not go to the league and he talked about academics and graduating from the University of Texas.
It was a summer camp where Heard worked with Tyrone Swoopes, raising an interesting question of how the 2013 and 2014 quarterback pledges compare:
As a passer, Heard is ahead. In terms of athleticism, Swoopes hasn't tested particularly well this summer, and the greater competition that Heard faces gives a better perspective on his pure speed. Still, Swoopes is taller and has dunked on the best basketball player in the 2013 class, Julius Randle, so it may be necessary to throw the testing out with Sheryl's nephew.
The big difference is that Swoopes has a high ceiling and a low floor -- he could be the next Vince Young, or he could be mediocre if he never hits a significant developmental curve. With Heard, the floor is higher, but the ceiling isn't quite as high. Where Swoopes is a risk, Heard is a relatively safe take, which makes them a nice combination in back-to-back classes for the Longhorns.
Since that sums things out for more, the last comment is that you can read the rest of my thoughts on Heard for the Q&A I did with SBNation Dallas right here.