Already one of the top QB's in the country

Even dating back to his days as a sophomore, Texarkana quarterback Ryan Mallett has had the eyes of colleges around the country fixed toward his direction. Not a surprise as even at that tender age, Mallett was standing over 6 foot, 5 inches tall while weighing around 210 pounds. Since then, all Ryan has done is manage to get himself rated as one of if not the best quarterback in the country for 2007. And he could be just getting warmed up.

Over a year ago I was at the first annual Nebraska Quarterback Academy. It was a big deal, because it was the first one of these types of camps the University was holding, but bigger still, because the uncommitted Harrison Beck was going to be there as well.

Beck put on his typical show with his typical flair, but there was another quarterback that prior to spotting him there, I had never heard his name before.

Ryan Mallett

He was over 6 foot, 5 inches tall, had a cannon for an arm and was pretty decent in most of the drills. Well, pretty decent overall, but when you consider the fact that he was a sophomore at the times, maybe pretty decent turns into pretty darn good.

Everyone there that got to see this kid all commented about the same in regard to his future: He had one and it was going to be bright

Just finishing up his junior season at Texas High School in Texarkana, Texas, Mallett said that he didn't think then of where he'd be now and honestly, he still doesn't. "Heck, I'm just a kid in high school," Ryan said humbly. "I didn't think of stuff like the attention or the spotlight. I'm just another guy out there playing football."

If college coaches could comment about this young man, they would probably tell you something different. Yes, he's playing football, but they don't see Mallett as he is now, but as he will be in the future.

As a sophomore Mallett was already throwing the ball over 60 yards and he did it fluidly, Ryan utilizing a pretty effortless motion as the ball rocketed out of his hand. Also, unlike some of the long distance throwers you see, where they get a running start like it's the javelin, Mallet stepped up almost to the line, grabbed the ball firmly into his hand, made one step and tossed it almost two-thirds of the way down the field.

So, putting it simply, everyone that saw Ryan play or perform, they knew the recruiting attention was going to find him, even if he didn't. But now, holding five written offers, along with what Mallett calls a "bunch" of verbal offers, even Ryan is starting to get the idea. "I can see it, I guess," Mallett said of the attention increasing. "I honestly don't think about it all that much, so maybe I don't notice, but I guess I did when I got my first offer."

The University of Baylor has the distinction of offering Mallet in writing before anyone else. Like many or all, they didn't necessarily need to see even Ryan's junior year to be convinced that this kid could play. It didn't hurt, though, as Ryan tossed 21 touchdowns to just six interceptions, totaling 2,279 yards on the season, tossing over 60 percent of his passes complete.

In the first round of the playoffs this last season, though, one standout QB got beat by the other, as future Georgia Bulldog Matthew Stafford and his Highland Park team beat Mallet and his Tigers 38-31.

Looking at only three offensive starters coming back for next year (including him), you'd think Ryan would be a little dejected about getting another crack at the top. That assumption wouldn't even be close. "We're just going to reload and go," Mallett said of his team. "Teams lose players all the time. You just have to replace them with people that want to do what it takes to win."

While Mallett may not have fully grasp what all this potential attention means, he's been at least slightly groomed to be prepared for it nonetheless. "My coach said the attention is going to come, but not to worry about it and just go with the flow," Ryan said. "He said just to have fun with it and not to worry about doing anything before I'm ready to."

Ryan hasn't taken recruiting by the horn, but he has managed to educate himself about some of the most intriguing programs to him early on. Either through camps or just unofficial visits, Ryan has been to Michigan, Nebraska, Arkansas, Texas and a few other places that he couldn't remember off the top of his head. He's been doing that to get the experience of camps, but to also see campuses around the country.

To that end, after all the initial investigating, Mallett has come to one irrefutable conclusion: "Every place you see, there's something great about it, so there's really no place that's better than the other," he said.

I know, I know, I can hear you saying it to yourself right now: ‘Man, this kid already has this interview stuff down."

Hey may, but it's certainly not out of intent. As Mallett would tell you, he's just going in with wide eyes, so there's no place that he's probably not going to be impressed with at some point before the trip is done. "Like I said, I'm in high school and all this is kind of new, but it's always new when you go someplace you haven't been," he said. "I just take it all in and shop around to see what fits me best."

Yep, he already sounds like a pro

That's the projection for Mallett, his size, arm and ability already prompting predictions that put him as one of the top quarterbacks in the country this next season. The offers will come, the calls will be made and the coaches will be by the school. There will be yet more camps to attend, letters galore to open and beside his name will be the names of most if not all of the national champions of the last ten years.

Ryan laughs a little when you talk about that, because it hasn't happened for him yet. And this is one young man that will gladly take the sit-back-and-see approach. "If you start planning on stuff that hasn't happened yet, you will stop doing what got you what attention you have right now," Mallet said. "You never count the eggs before the chickens hatch. You wait for them to hatch and then see what you get."

"And that's just what I plan to do."

Ryan said that he has no favorites right now and doesn't think he'll have any for quite some time.

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