On May 12th, the Longhorns received a commitment from 4-star QB prospect Zach Gentry, who announced his decision to join the Longhorns for the upcoming 2015 season. One of the main reasons Gentry decided to come to the 40 Acres was the favorable depth chart, according to Blake Munroe of Horns247:
"They have some great quarterbacks on the roster right now, but a few of those guys will be gone when I arrive. Other quarterbacks will be there too and will be ready to battle, but I feel confident in my abilities to get the job done and compete for that starting job."
Unfortunately for the Longhorns, depth at the QB position is currently not a luxury Charlie Strong and his coaching staff enjoy. As the past few seasons have illustrated, injuries and transfers are part and parcel of the game. With the currently thin quarterback position at Texas, Charlie Strong and the coaching staff will likely look to take at least one more QB in this recruiting class - either to provide Gentry some competition for a slot in the depth chart, or to replace him in the unlikely event his commitment wavers.
So with that in mind, here’s a way-too early look at some of the QBs who currently have Texas #1 on their list of prospective destinations. These are guys who want to play for Texas now - and odds are one of the following QBs will be joining Zach Gentry on the Texas depth chart for the next few years.
J.W. Ketchum III
- Position: Athlete / Dual-threat QB
- 247Sports Rating: ☆☆☆☆ (95)
- Offers: Texas, Oklahoma, Alabama, LSU, Baylor, Nebraska, Wisconsin
- Size: 6’ 0", 201 lbs
- School: Fort Bend Marshall HS, Texas (4A Division II)
2012 HS Statistics:
- Passing: 59/95 (62% cmp. rate), 744 passing yards, 12 TDs, 6 INTs.
- Rushing: 118 attempts, 1,165 yards, 28 TDs
Of the seven uncommitted quarterbacks who have received scholarship offers from Texas, J.W. Ketchum III is by far the most eager to come to the 40 Acres. A blazingly fast southpaw who posted a 4.56 40-yard dash at the U.S. Army National Combine, Ketchum is one of the most athletic QBs in the state of Texas. Rated as a 4-star recruit by every major recruiting wire, Ketchum’s speed and athleticism would allow him to play at the QB, WR, or even RB positions in college.
As his highlight video shows, Ketchum excels at designed QB draw plays and can pick up big chunks of yardage on the ground when the pocket collapses. In addition to his tremendous open-field speed, Ketchum displays significant elusiveness and has the ability to evade fast safeties at the second level. Many of his biggest plays at Marshall came on zone reads, where he was able to pull the ball down, make a first defender miss, and streak downfield. Ketchum also displays an ability to pick up significant yards after contact – he can run through half-tackles with confidence, and uses his stiff-arm well to get past quicker but smaller safeties. Thanks to a heavy dose of QB run and zone read plays, Ketchum was able to rack up 1,000+ rushing yards in 2012 and 2013.
Unfortunately, Ketchum’s passing skills represent the biggest obstacle to his future as a QB at Texas. Compared to some of the other QBs Texas is chasing, Ketchum lacks elite arm strength and is a raw, inconsistent passer. While Ketchum can throw accurately on the run, he is not a prototypical pocket QB – his stock passes lack speed, and his throwing mechanics need plenty of work. Ketchum has a very unorthodox throwing motion that may not serve him well at the higher level – he does not step forward and into his throws, preferring to whip his left shoulder up and forward while leaning slightly back.
His trunk remains stiff when he throws, and does not rotate as much as it should. Although such a technique allows him to throw touch and fade passes well, it hinders the speed and accuracy of his straight-line throws over the middle of the field and on comeback routes.
In addition, there is little film of Ketchum going through progressions – whether by instinct or by play design, his immediate reaction to a covered first read is to take off running. With offensive coordinator Shawn Watson describing his ideal QB as someone who can "win games from the pocket", Ketchum will need to improve his throwing abilities and pocket presence.
Ketchum’s speed and size, combined with his unfinished passing technique, make him a project QB with very high upside should he come to Texas. Given the Longhorns’ current development of Swoopes, combined with the skills of 2014 freshman Jerrod Heard, another project QB would most likely serve as bench depth. As such, significant time and effort would have to be invested in Ketchum for him to become a viable starting QB at the 40 Acres.
An easier way for Ketchum to see the field may be as a slot receiver or Wildcat back – where his speed, athleticism, and tackle-breaking abilities could be put to good use without worrying about his passing skills. In a 2013 interview with Ketchum, however, he made it clear that he was only interested in playing quarterback - William Wilkerson of ESPN initially reported that any school that talked to him about a different position was immediately scratched off his list. As a result, Texas has been recruiting him exclusively as a QB since the latter half of last year. This may hinder his chances of being a starter in the future.
Ketchum last visited Texas on March 30th, 2013, when he made an official visit for Junior Day. That same day, he received an offer from the Longhorns. Three months later, Ketchum named Texas as his most likely destination, despite receiving an offer from LSU and making an unofficial visit to College Station. If Ketchum ends up committing to Texas and Gentry remains firm in his pledge, their strengths and weaknesses could complement each other well at the QB position. But Strong and his staff may have to wait; Ketchum has stated that he will not commit to any school until an All-American game his senior season.
- Position: Pro-style QB
- 247Sports Rating: ☆☆☆☆ (93)
- Offers: Oklahoma State, TCU, Houston, Indiana, Vanderbilt
- Size: 6’ 4", 208 lbs
- School: Boerne HS, Texas (3A Division I)
2012 HS Statistics:
- Passing: 228/372 (61% cmp. rate), 3,010 passing yards, 27 TDs, 9 INTs.
- District 27-3A Offensive MVP
Photo credit: Student Sports
One of the more under-rated QBs in the 2015 class, Quinten Dormady flew under the radar thanks to an injury to his throwing shoulder that forced him to sit out his entire junior season of high school. However, a strong showing at the Elite 11 training camp and a full recovery from his injury under the supervision of renowned surgeon Dr. James Andrews have triggered a recent wave of offers for the 6’ 4" pocket passer out of Boerne, Texas. Already interest is rising – although Dormady is a consensus 3-star prospect, he was re-evaluated as a 4-star recruit by 247Sports on May 9th. More such re-evaluations may be on the way as other schools begin to show interest.
Although Dormady brings a significant dose of athleticism to the table, it is his height, size, and accurate throwing that have scouts interested. As the highlight videos show, Dormady’s arm strength enables him to consistently pick apart a secondary with crisp passes from the pocket. His pre-snap reads are also solid, allowing him to confidently step into a throw despite a blitzing defensive back.
At Dallas, he showed off a strong deep ball with nice touch and accuracy. One of his biggest assets is his height; he is quickly and consistently able to find receivers on short slant routes, without having to worry about defensive linemen swatting down his throws. However, certain areas of his passing mechanics still need improvement. Dormady occasionally fails to rotate his torso enough to square with his target, robbing his throws of some zip (a tendency he compensates for by kicking up his right leg).
The Elite 11 camp brought more of Dormady’s strengths and weaknesses into focus. According to Coleman Feeley’s analysis of the event at HornSports.com, Dormady performed well during mobility drills such as scrambles and play-action rollouts. He also threw well on the run, displaying a fluid and natural throw that was part of his stride. However, he struggled with throwing from a full 5-step drop and was inaccurate with his deep ball. Former Baltimore Ravens QB Trent Dilfer, who was on hand for the duration of the camp and spoke to several of the QBs there, gave an honest review of Dormady’s "inconsistent" performance, along with that of another QB named John Kolar:
"I thought he was good, I think the year off obviously showed… This is an environment you have to find a comfort zone with, and I didn't think they were very comfortable… I thought Dormady fought through it a little better, I think [for] John it got a little big for him."
The rust from Dormady's shoulder injury remains a significant, although dwindling concern. Despite a tremendous ceiling, Dormady must still be regarded as a project QB (albeit significantly more polished than Ketchum) until his performance returns to normal.
Dormady was present at the Longhorns’ Junior Day on March 1st, an experience he described as "outstanding". He was full of praise for Texas offensive coordinator Shawn Watson in particular, according to recruiting analyst Barton Simmons:
"I love him," Dormady said of Watson. "All those coaches are great guys. I went there for their junior day last weekend and it was amazing how personable they are. They put us in groups according to positions and the position coaches followed us around so coach Watson was with our position group the whole day. The old staff wasn’t like that. That was definitely a huge upside to the new staff here."
Dormady followed up his Junior Day experience with unofficial visits to Tennessee, Alabama, Houston, and Vanderbilt – with the latter two programs choosing to extend him scholarship offers. Dormady proceeded to impress scouts at the Dallas Nike Football Training Camp (April 5th) and the Elite 11, picking up two more offers from Indiana and TCU as lingering doubts about his injury cleared.
On March 7th, Dormady received a personal visit from Shawn Watson, who watched Dormady go through a comprehensive NFL pro day-style throwing session. Before Gentry's decision, all indications were that Texas would give him a scholarship offer soon (partially in an attempt to head off renewed interest from Oklahoma State, who extended him an offer on May 12th). Given the recent news of Gentry's decision, it remains to be seen if the coaching staff will maintain their heavy interest in the Boerne product -- and whether Dormady will continue to wait for an offer from Charlie Strong.
- Position: Dual-threat QB
- 247Sports Rating: ☆☆☆ (83)
- Offers: Houston, Texas State
- Size: 6’ 0", 180 lbs
- School: Southlake Carroll HS, Texas (5A Division I)
2013 HS Statistics:
- Passing: 236/316 (75% cmp. rate) for 3,148 passing yards, 31 TDs, 7 INTs
- Rushing: 175 attempts, 1,252 yards, 20 TDs
Recruiting quarterbacks is never an exact science. When talks with a dream recruit fall through, or a verbally committed player suddenly changes his tune before Signing Day, the importance of pursuing multiple targets at a position skyrockets. One of the recruits who could become a strong target for Texas in the wake of a change of heart from either Ketchum or Dormady is Ryan Agnew, a dual-threat quarterback with a varied skillset from Southlake Carroll High School.
Size matters in college – and Agnew’s size (or lack of it) may impair his ability to control the flow of the game from the pocket. Working out of the zone read, Agnew displays good acceleration and average to above-average top-end speed (although his 4.9 s 40-yard dash at the Dallas NFTC indicates there is significant room for improvement). He is a natural scrambler -- his stature makes him a difficult target to hit at the second level, where he shows his ability to slip through arm tackles.
When throwing from the pocket, he reads his receivers well, smoothly going through his progressions. Agnew’s throwing motion is not completely suited for the college level – he swings the ball away from his body when he throws quickly, making it easier for defensive linemen to swat down his passes. His short-range and intermediate-range passes are consistently accurate, but his deep ball is often under-thrown due to his average arm strength.
Agnew’s first exposure to Texas came on October 26th, when he took an unofficial visit to TCU and witnessed their 30-7 loss to the ‘Horns. As early as January, Tennessee was considered to be Agnew’s probable destination – both his parents graduated from Tennessee, placing the Volunteers high on his list during the early phases of recruiting.
Texas Tech, Clemson, Houston, and Northwestern also showed early interest in Agnew. However, following Jarrett Stidham’s commitment to Texas Tech, Texas began to make a strong push for him. On January 22nd, Agnew attended the Longhorns’ inaugural Junior Day and met with the coaching staff. In the following months, he received offers from Houston and Texas State – however, his interest in Texas persisted. He attended the Orange-White scrimmage in April, and had this to say when asked about the schools he was targeting:
"Everything is pretty even. The main thing [is], I want to find a good academic school."
If Texas offers Agnew, there’s a very good chance he’ll be among the latest group of quarterbacks to arrive at the 40 Acres come 2015.