Best of the best
Who's the state's top QB recruit in 2013? DCTF's Greg Tepper says there are six candidates.
It’s the most glamorous position on the field, the one that garners the most attention (think Tim Tebow is this big of a deal if he’s an outside linebacker?) and the most praise (it’s the second-most awarded Heisman Trophy position, behind running back). He’s the field general, the signal-caller and the triggerman.
It’s the quarterback, and the 2013 class in the state of Texas is loaded with them.
It’s true: while the 2012 class of recruits across the Lone Star State was particularly heavy on the offensive and defensive line, there is no position in the state that is as loaded with elite talent as quarterback in the 2013 class.
Which, of course, sets up the ever-popular debate: which of the state’s elite 2013 quarterbacks is truly the best, the No. 1 quarterback recruit in the state this year?
Most recruiting analysts will tell you that Whitewright’s Tyrone Swoopes is at the top of the class. Rivals.com ranks Swoopes as the No. 1 dual-threat QB in the nation; Scout.com ranks him the No. 2 overall QB in the nation; and pretty much every other recruiting Web site ranks Swoopes as one of – if not the – highest-rated quarterbacks in the country.
However, I think there is certainly an argument with other signal-callers in the state. Specifically, I think this is a six-horse race; you could claim that six different quarterbacks in Texas are the best in the state, and while I might have some questions about how you came to that conclusion, I’d certainly understand your position and think it believable.
Let’s roll through each of these quarterbacks, one by one. And keep in mind: these are in alphabetical order only. To see DCTF’s rankings, you’ll have to pick up our 2012 Summer Edition, due out this summer.
J.T. Barrett, Wichita Falls Rider
What’s the phrase the kids use these days…”baller”? Because that’s Barrett; he’s a baller. A 6-1, 210-pound horse of a quarterback, Barrett’s a true dual threat, throwing for over 1,600 yards and 14 touchdowns while also running for another 1,500 yards and seven scores. He’s quick enough to juke you out of your shoes, fast enough to leave you in the dust, strong enough to bowl you over if you want to take him on, and has a good enough arm to make every throw you ask him to. He’s got a little case of happy feet – dancing in the pocket instead of standing and firing – and his throwing motion is a little longer than I’d like to see, but make no mistake: Barrett is an elite-level talent. That’s why tons of schools are after him, like Texas Tech, Ohio State, LSU and Baylor.
Kenny Hill, Southlake Carroll
Perhaps you’ve heard of him. The son of former MLB pitcher Ken Hill, he’s been on the statewide radar since his sensational sophomore season in 2010, and he only got better in 2011, throwing for 3,006 yards and 25 touchdowns while rushing for 1,383 yards and 24 scores. But perhaps what sets the 6-1, 205-pound quarterback apart is what you can’t measure. He has established a unique ability to put the team on his back when he needs to and carry them to victory (see: state semifinal victory over Dallas Skyline, state championship victory over Fort Bend Hightower). If there’s a knock on Hill –and really, it’s hard to find one coming off a state title run – he can be a bit impatient in the pocket, opting to run the ball at the first sign of pressure. That’s something that can be taught – his mechanics are excellent. That’s why folks like Texas A&M, Texas Tech and Baylor are all over him.
Devante Kincade, Dallas Skyline
The unfortunate thing for Devante Kincade is that he was on the wrong side of that amazing Southlake Carroll comeback in the state semifinal last year, because Kincade was every bit as good as Hill in that game. At 6-0 and 175 pounds, he’s the smallest of the bunch, but I have been so impressed with how much he’s grown up since the 2010 season when I first saw him. He makes outstanding decisions, he can burn anybody with his speed and quickness (857 rushing yards, 17 TDs last year) and he has one of the most refined arms I’ve seen out of this group, throwing for 3,270 yards and 37 touchdowns last season. His mechanics, which he would probably admit were pretty bad in 2010, were astonishingly clean in 2011. His footwork needs work, and he tends to either throw off his back foot or need operative space to step into throws, but otherwise, I love Kincade’s game. He’s getting attention from all over, including Texas, Texas A&M, SMU, Oregon and Notre Dame.
Kohl Stewart, Houston St. Pius X
Our first of two pocket passers in the group, and also the first of two who is already committed (Stewart is a longtime Texas A&M verbal). The word you’re looking for when describing Stewart is “clean.” Everything about his game is clean: from his footwork to his deep ball to his poise in the pocket, Stewart is very close to a finished product. And boy, can he throw the deep ball; maybe the prettiest deep ball thrower in the class. Combine that with some great decision making and a terrific feel for the game, and you have a recipe for back-to-back 3,100-yard passing seasons. Now, he’s not without flaws: he does have a tendency to short-arm it from time to time, and he only has average mobility, but if his commitment holds to the Aggies (and heck, he’s been with them since last July, why wouldn’t it?), A&M’s got a special one on their hands.
Tyrone Swoopes, Whitewright
Let’s get one thing straight: Tyrone Swoopes is worthy of the hype. The Texas commit is an absolute monster at 6-5 and 220 pounds, and he knows how to use his size in both the passing and rushing aspects of his game. When you watch him run, it doesn’t look like he should be moving that fast; he takes these long strides that propel him forward with exceptional speed. And Swoopes’ passing is certainly worthy of praise: you don’t throw for 1,394 yards and 15 touchdowns without knowing what you’re doing. Swoopes is by no means a finished product – his throwing motion needs some work, and though the arm strength is there, he’s only pretty accurate – but trust me: it’s OK to believe the hype.
Cody Thomas, Colleyville Heritage
If you like old-school, drop-back quarterbacks, Thomas might be your guy. He looks like a quarterback – at 6-5 and 220 pounds, he’s got the type of build that both college and NFL scouts look for – and he’s clearly been coached well in his mechanics, as he has a very smooth with both his footwork and his release. When you’re looking at quarterbacks, you’re always concerned with how repeatable his throwing motion is; Thomas’ is like clockwork. I do have some concerns about Thomas’ deep ball – past about 25 yards, it tends to float a bit – but Thomas might be the most prototypical elite quarterback recruit in the state. That’s why everyone from TCU and Texas Tech to Oregon and USC are after him.
What do you think? Which of these players do you think is the state’s top QB in the 2013 class? Sound off on our Facebook page!
Greg Tepper is the associate editor of Dave Campbell's Texas Football and TexasFootball.com.