"That's the thing with him, he can be any kind of quarterback," Butler head coach Brian Hales said. "He's a kid that if he's in the pocket and he has time, he'll pick the defense apart. But, he's able to hurt a defense with his legs, too."
Ratliff was promoted to the varsity squad after quarterbacking the junior varsity team as a freshman.
"Last year as a sophomore, we had a decision to make," Hales said. "Are we going to play him on JV or on varsity? The way we looked at it was: next year, he's going to be the guy to take over. So I didn't think playing him on JV was going to help him a lot as far as development goes. But obviously with having Riley and Zach Gross here, we had a nationally recruited quarterback and another senior who was a very good quarterback."
Faced with that dilemma, Hales moved Ratliff to wide receiver to start the season.
"He's such a good athlete, we knew he could help us there," Hales said. "And then it would allow him to get out there on Friday nights and get used to that speed and also to get used to the passing game from the other end of it."
That plan was altered slightly when Ferguson broke a bone in his throwing hand. In the six games he was sidelined, Ratliff and Gross split the quarterback snaps roughly in half.
"We did it differently week to week," Hales said. "One week Zach played the first half [and] Anthony played the second, we did it quarter by quarter, [and] we did it two series at a time."
Ratliff's play overall – but especially when Ferguson was out – helped Butler go undefeated and win its third NCHSAA 4AA state title in four years. Ratliff threw for 442 yards and seven touchdowns on 22-of-38 passing with two interceptions. He was third on the team in rushing with 281 yards on 30 carries (9.4-yard average). Also, he caught eight passes for 135 yards and three scores.
This coming season, Ratliff is Butler's leading returning receiver. But with Ferguson off to Tennessee and Gross also graduating, the quarterback job will be Ratliff's. The only change, according to Hales, is the offense will be molded around Ratliff's dual threat abilities.
"We're going to look into the pistol and into schools that [use their quarterback as a runner]," Hales said. "I plan on spending some time with [UNC assistant coach Gunter] Brewer and picking up some of their offense."
Despite never playing an entire game at quarterback, Ratliff is receiving college interest from throughout the nation, including from Alabama, Arizona, Clemson, Florida, Georgia, LSU, Michigan, North Carolina, and South Carolina.
"There have been a lot of coaches that have told me they want [Ratliff] to come to their camp this summer," Hales said. "With quarterbacks, [recruiting] starts a year earlier than everybody else as far as offers and interest."
Ratliff has only made one recruiting trip. He attended the UNC-Virginia Tech "White Out" game in Chapel Hill last season.
"It was a fun experience seeing the atmosphere and seeing how hyped the crowd can get," Ratliff said.
Ratliff is looking at setting up visits to Clemson, Georgia, and Michigan, as well as a return trip to UNC. There's a very good chance his return visit to Chapel Hill could occur this Saturday for the Tar Heels' Junior Day.
At this early stage of his recruitment, Ratliff doesn't claim any favorite schools.
Ratliff grew up rooting for Southern Cal – particularly during the Matt Leinart/Reggie Bush era – and Georgia. His fondness for the Bulldogs stemmed from watching film with Butler alum and current UGa quarterback Christian LeMay and former UGa quarterback Joe Cox… Ratliff plans to run track this spring to improve his speed.