Pearland captured the Class 5A state championship in Texas last season, with quarterback Trey Anderson playing a vital role in the Oilers' success.
When it came to recruiting, not many schools were lined up to take a look at Anderson. Pearland head coach Tony Heath—who sends multiple players on to Division I schools each year—is well-versed in the whole recruiting game. He has one explanation for it.
"In the recruiting game, you have to get a very early start," Heath said. "He didn't have the kind of junior year that he had for us this year. If he would have had the kind of junior year he had as a senior, there's no question he would've had more interest. There were a lot of quarterbacks out there who already made their commitments (in their junior year). Those schools that have their targets, they have film of those guys by their junior year."
Anderson has chosen to come to Pittsburgh as a walk-on. Heath compared Anderson's recruitment to another quarterback who came out of Texas nearly 15 years ago. He didn't compare them as being the exact same type of player, with the same career forecast, but did say it was a similar scenario.
"(Anderson) had an opportunity to go to different schools, and junior colleges," Heath said. "It was always his dream to play Division I college football. It reminds me a lot of Drew Brees. He was a senior quarterback, he didn't get heavily recruited. He was heading to Texas State. Purdue took a chance on him. I'm not saying (Anderson) is the next Brees, but neither got heavily recruited coming out of high school."
As a senior, Anderson was named District 24-5A first-team quarterback. He set several school records along the way to that honor, in addition to helping guide his team to a state title. He set new school records for most passes attempted in a season (521), most passes completed in a season (306), most passing yards in a single-game (314), most passing yards during the regular season (1,653 yards), most passing yards for a single-season including playoffs (2,898), most passing yards in a career (4,654), most touchdown passes in a season (25), and most career touchdown passes.
"He was a very smart player," Heath added. "He's a guy that's definitely accurate with his arm. We run multiple formations; we shift into unbalanced sets, we run a lot of different sets.
"He's good at running the football. We're an option team. He's got very good pocket presence. When the pocket collapses, he can get out of the pocket and get yards. He's a good scrambler. He did a real good job with that."
One person who did take an interest in Anderson after the Oilers claimed a state championship in December was Todd Dodge. At the time, Dodge had just been fired as head coach at North Texas, and Michael Haywood was still technically the head coach at Pitt. Within a month, Dodge would come to Pittsburgh as quarterbacks coach. It was at that state championship game, however, that Dodge first inquired about Anderson.
"I've had a good relationship with Todd Dodge for a number of years," Heath said. "I've met (head) coach (Todd) Graham, but I don't know him personally. Coach Dodge, he was at the state game. I visited with him about Trey. We kept in communication. That's a big reason why Trey is coming to Pittsburgh. We talked a lot about him. (Dodge) knew with our relationship, that I was going to shoot him straight."
While the relationship with Dodge was a big part in getting Anderson to Pitt, in terms of the future, Anderson should find some familiarity with the Pitt offense when he gets here. Often times, high school head coaches go to coaching clinics to see and learn about the different systems that colleges are running. Heath attended a Tulsa coaching clinic, where he picked up a few things from the Tulsa system, applied it to his Pearland team. Many of those things Anderson applied as a senior.
"The system Todd (Graham) ran, Chad Morris was the offensive coordinator at Tulsa," Heath said. "I spent a lot of time with Chad at Lake Travis (TX). We were close friends. Our offense a lot the same. We took a lot the same things they did and incorporated it into our offense. I don't know everything about what (Graham) did at Tulsa, but when he was coming up through the high school ranks, a lot of the things he's running now were the things he was running then."