"We felt the biggest weakness going into his junior year was that when the pocket collapsed his eyes were down. He wasn't getting the ball out or he wasn't scrambling," said Rick Darlington, his father and the head coach of Apopka. "He turned that weakness into his strength over his junior year. That is what he did best this past season. He was throwing the deep call with accuracy and getting hit. He looked calm in the pocket and played with poise."
That's certainly a sign of maturation. Darlington, 6-foot-2 and now 205-pounds, missed his first four games of the '13 campaign with a high ankle sprain. He finished the season with over 1,700 yards passing and over 700 yards rushing. He accounted for 29 touchdowns and had a completion percentage of 66%. Darlington had a super playoff run and played his last four games with a broken wrist on his throwing hand.
"Nobody knew that about his broken wrist so what he did was pretty remarkable," Darlington said. "He actually had surgery yesterday. The doctor put a pin in his wrist. He's a tough kid."
Darlington hopes his son and star quarterback will be back and ready to throw in April and participate in practice come May 1.
"Zack will definitely be back this spring," Darlington said. "He's already working hard this off-season and getting stronger. That's this year's focus. He squatted 365 times 10 times so it's coming."
"Zack will visit Virginia Tech in April for sure," Darlington said. "He may head to N.C. State. He would love to visit Arizona but that's a long way away so we will have to wait and see. Zack may visit USF this Sunday for their junior day."
Zack's older brother, Ty, plays for the Sooners. At least at this time it doesn't appear he will follow his brother's footsteps to Norman.
"Oklahoma has a strong group of quarterbacks on campus already and it looks like they have already offered an in-state quarterback."
Dade County in south Florida is home to two potential five-star athletes that just happen to play quarterback in Quinton Flowers (Miami Jackson) and Treon Harris (Miami Booker T. Washington). Both want to be signal callers at the next level. In the right system both Flowers and Harris could flourish. They are two phenomenal athletes with great speed and quickness and very dangerous with the ball in their hands. To be honest, they made have more upside at wide receiver or defensive back.
It will be very interesting on two fronts with Flowers and Harris. First, how will they continue to develop as quarterbacks this spring and next season? Second, their recruitments should be interesting to say the least. Do they actually stick to their guns and play quarterback in college or do they keep an open mind? They both have the athletic ability to play for any program in the country.
The Chase Is On
There are never that many pro-style quarterbacks from the state of Florida with the size and ability like Chase Litton (Tampa Wharton). He stands 6-foot-6 and weighs 190-pounds. He claims an early LSU offer but that should be just the beginning. With a good spring and fall his stock could potentially sky-rocket. This is a pro-style quarterback that has shown good improvement from year to year on the football field. If he can put his off the field issues to rest teams will give him a serious look over the coming months.
Air Raid in Jacksonville
D.J. Gillins (Jacksonville Eagle's View) is a very good dual-threat signal caller from Jacksonville that gave his pledge to Texas Tech back in November. This is a big (6-3/191) and athletic kid that can really throw the football. North Carolina, Vanderbilt, Kentucky and West Virginia were some of his early offers. There's a new sheriff in Lubbock and it will be interesting to watch the next 11 months unfold for the Red Raiders and their new head coach Kliff Kingsbury and the recruitment of other schools with Gillins.
Quarterback Sean White has transferred from Hollywood Chaminade-Madonna to Ft. Lauderdale University School. White has a half-down offers from schools like USF, Boston College, Wake Forest, Miami (Ohio) and Hawaii.
Here are some of the quarterback sleepers in the Sunshine State to keep a close eye on between now and national signing day.
Joey Baker (Pensacola West Florida Tech), Railond Garrett (Lake Wales), Kilton Anderson (Naples), Jared Reimel (Orlando Lyman), Alin Edouard (Hialeah), Wade Freebeck (Davie Western), Danarious Graham (American Heritage-Delray), Alex McGough (Tampa Gaither), Nicodem Pierre (Miami Coral Reef) and John Wolford (Jacksonville Bishop Kenny).