The Red Bull Challenge is a growing 7-on-7 tournament with qualifying events in states throughout the country, all leading up to a championship event in Dallas later this summer. Tuesday, the event held its Kansas City qualifier at St. Thomas Aquinas High School, and Scout.com was on hand to get a look at a pair of the best quarterback prospects in the area.
With 10 area teams participating, including Staley (MO) High, Prairie Village (KS) Shawnee Mission East, Overland Park (KS) Blue Valley North, Stilwell (KS) Blue Valley, Olathe (KS) North, Overland Park (KS) Shawnee Mission West and others, the field was solid Tuesday at St. Thomas Aquinas High School.
Darling, a 6-foot-4, 230-pound pro-style prospect, recently gave his verbal commitment to Kansas, and during the event showed the skills that caused the Jayhawks to invest in him early in the 2013 recruiting process.
The Lancers receiving corps doesn't have a great deal of speed, and initially Darling seemed a little frustrated by his inability to cut loose with his powerful arm. What they do have, however, is a number of big, intelligent targets with solid hands and a knack for finding holes in the defense.
It took Darling all of a half to adjust, marching East down the field time and time again with quick hitters on flares, comeback routes and quick slants - the latter proving his most effective weapon in the red zone. He made his reads quickly and almost always made the right decision. In the four games we saw him, he failed to throw a single pick.
The physical tools are there. Darling has the size, the arm, the accuracy. Like all high school prospects his mechanics can fluctuate, but the majority of the time he displays a quick, high release that gets rid of the ball in a hurry. Even more impressive was his ability to evaluate, adjust and take what defenses were giving him. There's an awful lot for Charlie Weis to work with, and between he and Roeland Park (KS) Bishop Miege star Montell Cozart the Jayhawks have a rock solid class of quarterbacks upon which to build their future.
Hosick is perhaps the most dynamic talent in the entire Kansas City region. As effective with his feet as with his arm, maybe even more so, he looked uncomfortable at times when forced to stay behind the line of scrimmage. The 7-on-7 format just doesn't allow him to play to his strengths. Hosick isn't a pocket passer. He showed an excellent deep ball at times and a big-league arm, but when facing the competition's four-second play clock (if the ball isn't thrown in less than four seconds it results in a loss of down) he was forced into a handful of bad throws - some resulting in interceptions.
It goes without saying that Hosick - who is committed to Missouri - is a phenomenal athlete, one of the tops in the country. But he's certainly not cut out of the Chase Daniel or Blaine Gabbert mold as a passer. Missouri fans might not like the comparison, but he actually seems more effective when the play breaks down and he's able to freelance - a la former Kansas great Todd Reesing.
It will be interesting to see where he ends up in college. Maybe Head Coach Gary Pinkel and his staff find a way to build an offense around him - and he's talented enough to be the engine of a serious machine if the system is right. But if quarterback doesn't work out, it's not difficult to see him as a monster defensive prospect, perhaps as a safety or outside linebacker.