Class of 2005 QBs: Bargains, sleepers & prospects

Need a dual-talented quarterback, one that can run or throw out of the spread? How about a classic, pocket passer? Or maybe you're looking to develop a winner who's just a little undersized?

Texas may be lacking in its quantity of top-tier, blue-chip quarterbacks in the Class of 2005, but college coaches can fit just about any need with the variety of talent available. There's also plenty of sleepers and untapped potential among this year's senior quarterback class.

Forty-one of the teams in Class A through 5A that advanced to Week Four of the playoffs were led by senior quarterbacks. Surprisingly, only Wichita Falls Riders' Blake Szymanski, Tatum's Stephen Hodge, Chase Daniel of Southlake Carroll, Justin Willis of Denton Ryan and Celina's John Clark are rated in the database.

So who's off the radar map? Start with Royse City signal-called James Mapps, who rushed for 2,488 yards and 32 TDs and led his team to the Class 3A Division I semifinals. Mapps wanted so much to go to SMU that he lobbied for his team's semifinal game vs. Abilene Wylie to be played at Ford Stadium on the campus of the Dallas university.

Hodge was highly recruited, but not necessarily as a quarterback. He's committed to TCU, where he will probably play safety. Chase Gibson of Wylie passed for more than 3,000 yards and 27 TDs after spending two seasons on defense. Gibson has given early indications he's bound for TCU, but at 5-11, 195 (4.45 in 40), his position also could change.

Also on that list is San Antonio Taft's Ram Vela, a first-team selection on the Express-News' Area 5A Team who passed for 2,169 yards and 19 TDs and ran for almost 1,000 yards. Plenty of small-school quarterbacks, especially in the Panhandle, West Texas and the Hill Country, led their teams past the third round of the playoffs. Sweetwater's Jeremy Thompson says he already expects to have to play another position in college. Julius Watts of Rogers has the size (6-2, 210) and ability to play running back at the next level.

Meanwhile, Lexington's Jordan Peterson, also a star in basketball, baseball and track, says he's been promised a scholarship from Texas A&M. Another standout at a 2A school, Newton's Sammy Adams, is a Division I prospect at defensive back.

And the most prolific passer and Player of the Year in Class 3A this season, Manuel Johnson of Gilmer (5,128 combined yards), is committed to Oklahoma—but as a wide receiver, a position he earned all-state honors for as a junior. Another multi-sport star, Dallas Lincoln's Byron Eaton, committed early to the Oklahoma State basketball program last season.

From East Texas, Marshall's C.J. Byrd has committed to Southern University and Josh Hill of 5A Division I champ Tyler Lee was scheduled to visit Northwestern (La.) State last week. Unfortunately, several in this group of "winners" could get left behind—perhaps because of their size, their geography or just because no one has seen them play. But don't be surprised if a walk-on from schools like Haskell, Boyd or Harleton don't end up on somebody's roster within the next two years.

McPherson is a Richardson, Texas-based freelance writer.

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