'Taller Vick' on Vol radar

Since taking over as Memphis Melrose's head football coach on May 6 Daryl Steward already determined that his rising senior quarterback is something special.

Will Gross, a 6-2, 205-pounder, passed for 2,333 yards, with 34 touchdowns and just six interceptions as a junior last fall. Scout.com tabs him a 4-star recruit and ranks him No. 12 nationally among quarterback prospects. Steward believes his star player is even better than that.

"He's like a taller Michael Vick, in terms of arm strength and running ability, but he stays in the pocket and goes through his reads," Steward told InsideTennessee. "He has the arm of a Peyton Manning and the speed of Michael Vick."

Steward knew Gross was exceptionally gifted the first time he saw him throw a post-corner route.

"The post corner route is hard to throw but he puts it on the money," the coach said. "That's how I test quarterbacks, and he's very accurate on that throw. If you can find a quarterback who can throw the post-corner and go through his reads, you've got a winner. That's what you've got with Will Gross."

Although Gross has a live arm and quick feet, the coach suggests that his grasp of the position may be his greatest asset.

"The thing that sets Will apart from other high school quarterbacks is the fact he's played quarterback since Peewee League," Steward said. "He sits in the pocket, goes through his reads, and he has a golden arm. He can throw it deep or throw it short.

"Whoever gets him won't have to teach him much. You're getting a kid who won't have trouble learning a system. He's gone through numerical and alphabetical (play-calling) systems. That's why he's so hot right now. That gives him an advantage. A lot of Division I schools want to bring in a kid you don't have to redshirt. That's what you get with a quarterback like this. I think that's what separates him from a lot of high school quarterbacks."

Gross is attracting considerable attention from big-time programs. Alabama, the 2010 BCS national champ, is interested. So is Oregon, the 2011 BCS national runnerup.

"Oregon came in today (Wednesday) and worked him out," Steward said. "Nick Saban is after him, too. All of your SEC schools are interested, along with Louisville, Oregon and Memphis. You're not only getting one of the best in Tennessee but in the southern region."

The home-state Tennessee Volunteers appear set at quarterback, since 2010 starter Tyler Bray has three years of eligibility remaining and 2010 Gatorade National Player of the Year Justin Worley has four. Steward says that won't stop Gross from considering the Big Orange, however.

"He's very interested," the head man said. "He's always going to keep the home school in mind."

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