Gilbert headlines talented '09 Centex passers

In the first of a position by position look at what Central Texas has to offer to the Class of 2009, Jeff Howe takes a look at what is a talented group of quarterbacks, which is led by one of the nation's best in Lake Travis' Garrett Gilbert.

There are solid high schools quarterback, there are some that are very good players, and there are some that are even sure-fire college prospects.

Then there is Garrett Gilbert, who seems to be in a class of his own.

The signal caller from Lake Travis is arguably the most high profile recruit in Central Texas and he leads what looks to better quarterback class in Central Texas for the 2009 recruiting cycle than the group, which featured Baylor signee Robert Griffin, which inked letters of intent a few months ago.

Coming off of a season in which he broke several single season state passing records and led Lake Travis to a 15-1 mark and a Class 4A state championship, Gilbert was one of the first junior prospects in the nation to announce his college decision when he committed to Texas just days after National Signing Day in February. There is already a long-running debate among Longhorn fans as to whether the Texas staff made the right call by going with Gilbert as their quarterback of the future instead of Houston Cypress Ridge five-star human highlight reel Russell Shepard, an LSU pledge.

When Shepard has undeniable athleticism, there are several things Gilbert possesses that many high school quarterbacks simply cannot measure up against. Gilbert ran a sophisticated passing offense under former Lake Travis head coach Jeff Dicus, an offense that former Cavalier Todd Reesing also flourished in at the prep level. Gilbert shows excellent touch and accuracy and can make just about every throw in the book, but what separates him from most is his feel for the game and his poise during pressure packed situations. He is also an excellent leader and knows how to take command of a huddle, which when put together with his physical gifts as a passer, a 6-foot-4-inch frame, and the ability to make plays on the run, it is easy to see why Gilbert is one of the top prep passers in the nation.

Gilbert will face new changes during his senior year in addition to carrying the tag of being the quarterback of the defending state champions and a future Longhorn playing his prep ball just minutes away from the "40 Acres." He is currently in the midst of rehabbing from surgery to repair a labrum tear, which he played with most of his junior season, and he will be playing under a new head coach as former Bay City and Stephenville head coach Chad Morris is stepping in to replace the departed Dicus. Working in Gilbert's favor, much to the dismay of his opponents, are that he is expected to make a full recovery from the surgery and should be full-go for 7-on-7 this summer and Morris has a good quarterback track record having tutored the likes of Andrew Smith, Jevan Snead, and most recently Kody Spano.

Gilbert however is not the only Central Texas quarterback that will be heading to a big time college campus next fall.

Midlothian's Bryce Petty is also one of the top quarterback prospects in the state, a consensus top ten passer in what might be the deepest year at quarterback the state has ever seen. Currently a three-star prospect, Petty has solid size at 6-foot-2 and 205-pounds and displays a quick release under center. He can also throw while on the move and is very accurate doing so as he does a good job of getting his shoulders parallel to the line of scrimmage and steps into his release.

While Gilbert and Petty both get a lot of attention at the 4A level, there are several quarterbacks that are tearing up the Central Texas 3A ranks that could be steals come next winter. One of the most impressive looking quarterbacks from Central Texas is Glen Rose's Derek Thompson. Selected as the District 12-3A Offensive MVP by the league's coaches as a junior, Thompson is an impressive looking specimen at 6-foot-4 and 215-pounds. Moving further South in Central Texas Wimberley's Barron Scudder has a wiry 6-foot-3 frame and looks like he could add weight when he gets into a college training program. He also has excellent mobility and 4.7 speed to go along with an accurate arm.

One of the wild cards in the class could be Navasota's Jacolby Stokes. A first team all-District and all-Brazos Valley selection as a junior, Stokes is undersized for the quarterback position at the next level (5-foot-10, 180-pounds), but he is an excellent athlete and he could get some looks with colleges eyeing a talented Rattlers team that features LSU-bound running back Dexter Pratt, 2009 blue chip receiver Brandal Jackson, and 2010 offensive lineman Aleon Calhoun.

Another quarterback that dominates at the small school level is Waco Reicher Catholic's Kenneth Cluley. Cluley has received interest from colleges across the country and despite being just 5-foot-11, he has a strong arm and can really let the ball fly down the field. He can also make plays with his feet and pull away from a defense in the open field with his 4.53 speed. His height might be a concern for some, but his playmaking ability cannot be ignored as Cluley accounted for over 3,600 yards of total offense and 51 touchdowns under center while leading Reicher to a TAPPS state championship.

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