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College Football Recruiting: 2014 Quarterback Watch List

Tim LangevinFeatured ColumnistSeptember 16, 2012

College Football Recruiting: 2014 Quarterback Watch List

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    Now that Week 3 of the college football season is in the books, it's back to the recruiting trail.

    When it comes to recruiting, there have always been trends and hotbeds. The advent of the West Coast offense has produced several pro-style quarterbacks, whereas the popularity of the spread offense has resulted in the need for dual-threat quarterbacks.

    According to the ESPN Database, there are 452 pro-style quarterbacks and 187 dual-threat signal-callers listed in the Class of 2014.

    Some of these junior quarterbacks have already committed. Some are under the radar and some are above it. One thing is certain—these talented youngsters are all "up in arms."

    Here is my Top 10 Quarterback Watch List.

10. Adam Bertke, Marion Local (Maria Stein, Ohio)

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    Adam Bertke hails from one of the top small-school conferences in the nation—the Midwest Athletic Conference, located in western Ohio.

    This conference has produced its share of quarterbacks, including Bobby Hoying (Ohio State), Todd Boeckman (Ohio State) and currently Keith Wenning (Ball State).

    The MAC has won 21 state titles. Marion Local High School owns five of them, including a Division VI championship last season. And Bertke was sensational in the finals, passing for 278 yards and four TDs.

    This prototypical quarterback (6'5", 195 pounds) completed 131 of 222 passes for 2,233 yards and 25 TDs as a sophomore.

    This season the Flyers are 4-0 and ranked No.1 in the AP Ohio High School Football Poll. Bertke is the main reason, completing 67 of 106 passes for 769 yards and four TDs.

    The Flyers changed their M.O. this year to take advantage of Bertke's talents. Normally, a play-action pass team, Marion Local operates out of a no-huddle, four-receiver set type of spread.

    And Bertke has responded with 358 yards and seven TDs on the ground, averaging 7.6 yards per clip. 

    Bertke is a nice prospect with great size and mobility. He has tremendous accuracy and a nice touch on the short routes. His pocket presence is exceptional for a kid his age. He can stand tall and deliver.

    Head coach Tim Goodwin said after Friday's victory, "He has a big arm. He can make every throw. But what sets him apart from a lot of kids, he isn't afraid of contact. Very physical. Very deceptive. For a big kid, he makes a lot of people miss."

    Goodwin ought to know. Since 1999, his teams have appeared in six state finals and his overall record is 141-38.

    The 17-year-old Bertke attended camps this summer at Ohio State, Michigan State and Toledo. He walked away from the Toledo camp with an offer.

    Despite Marion Local's spread offense this season, Goodwin believes Bertke will be a pro-style quarterback at the next level. He seems to think schools like Michigan State, Wisconsin and Iowa would be a good fit.

    Editor's Note: I covered the game Sept. 14 and interviewed Tim Goodwin.

9. Will Grier, Davidson Day (Davidson, North Carolina)

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    Davidson Day High School is in its third year of football, and head coach Chad Grier (25-2) has reason to smile. His son is the starting quarterback.

    Will Grier gained national attention after a stellar sophomore season in which he passed for 3,785 yards and 49 TDs and rushed for 925 yards and 11 TDs.

    The 6'3", 171-pounder threw for 493 yards and six TDs in the season opener. Friday night, the youngster torched Parkwood High School for seven TDs.

    Davidson Day is 4-1 overall, and Grier has amassed over 2,000 passing yards and 23 TDs.

    Grier is listed as a dual-threat quarterback, but will probably be a drop-back passer at the next level due to his 4.82 40-yard-dash time. Regardless, he has received six offers, including from Florida, North Carolina, Tennessee and Wake Forest.

    The kid understands the little things required to be a big-time quarterback. He has great instincts and is decisive when running or passing. 

    He attended the South Carolina game last Saturday and liked what he saw. Steve Spurrier and Grier would chime in Columbia.

8. Brandon Dawkins, Oaks Christian (Westlake Village, California)

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    California is a hotbed for pro-style quarterbacks, and Brandon Dawkins fits that matrix.

    Oaks Christian High School is off to a 3-0 start, and during that stretch Dawkins is 52-of-69 for 719 yards and six TDs. More impressive is that he has completed 75 percent of his throws.

    In his sophomore year, he threw for 2,844 yards and 31 TDs and rushed for over 300 yards. He also broke Jimmy Clausen's single-game passing record with 389 yards.

    Dawkins has tremendous size at 6'4" and 215 pounds.

    He has gained interest from over 16 schools. Notre Dame and Utah have made offers. Alabama is another school on his radar and he visited the Crimson Tide this summer.

    Dawkins has attended USC's skills camp three straight summers.

    He wouldn't be the first quarterback from California to sign with Notre Dame. Remember Joe Montana and Jimmy Clausen?

7. E.J. Moss, Ashville (Ashville, Alabama)

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    In his third season as starting quarterback, E.J. Moss led Ashville High School to a 25-21 win over archrival Springville Week 1.

    He was 8-of-14 for 107 yards through the air and gained another 227 yards on the ground. He averaged 40.6 yards per punt and played LB on defense, making several tackles and recording one sack.

    Moss is a fitness freak. He has been training with his head coach Mark O'Bryant, an ex-Navy Seal, the past nine months and has gained about 23 pounds of solid muscle.

    This dual-threat quarterback passed and rushed for over 1,000 yards and 21 total TDs as a sophomore.

    The 6'3", 223-pounder has received offers from Alabama, Auburn, Mississippi State and Tennessee. Both Alabama and Auburn are waging a war for his commitment.

    This stud-muffin definitely fits the SEC cast of quarterbacks. 

6. John Wolford, Bishop Kenny (Jacksonville, Florida)

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    John Wolford has a huge upside.

    The kid is big (6'2", 209 pounds), fast (4.69 40-yard-dash), strong (benches 270) and intelligent (3.93 GPA).

    Coaches from all over the country are keeping a watchful eye on this talent, including those of Alabama, Oregon, Florida, Clemson, Boise State and Notre Dame. In all, 21 schools have shown interest.

    As a freshman, Wolford passed for 1,750 yards and 17 TDs. Last year, he threw for 2,669 yards and 35 TDs with only three interceptions.

    Through the first two games of this campaign, Wolford has completed 31 of 47 passes for 412 yards and four TDs.

    He has tremendous pocket presence. He has been sacked only seven times in 13 career starts. He has a lively arm, excellent mobility and deceptive quickness.

    Wolford would shine on Boise State's blue turf.

5. DeShone Kizer, Toledo Central Catholic (Toledo, Ohio)

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    One of the top dual-threat quarterbacks in Ohio is DeShone Kizer. He screams highlight reel.

    The 6'5" speedster is solely focused on the 2012 season. His team is 4-0 and ranked No.1 in the AP State High School Football Poll for Division II schools.

    This is one of the best Fighting Irish teams head coach Greg Dempsey (107-35) has had since his 2005 state championship squad.  

    This high-powered offense is averaging over 50 points a game. And it all starts with Kizer. He threw for five TDs and totaled 267 yards Friday. The week before he completed nine of 15 passes for 128 yards and one score.

    Through three games, he is 20-of-31, passing for 276 yards and three TDs with no interceptions.

    This electrifying prospect doesn't need to put up big numbers in order for his team to win. Toledo Central Catholic High School is loaded with talent at all the skill positions.

    Kizer explained, "It's nice to have somebody at almost every position who can make a big play on any given down. You don't have to worry about who your go-to guy is."

    He has received seven offers. Nebraska, Louisville and Illinois are high on his list of 14 college choices.

    In 2011, Kizer passed for 1,226 yards and 10 TDs and dashed for 540 yards and four scores.

    Kizer is fun to watch as he conducts the offense. He can get rid of the football quickly, is deadly on the quarterback draw, has great elusiveness and can throw on the run when he rolls out.

    Don't be surprised if he ends up in B1G Country—like a Nebraska or Illinois.

    Editor's Note: I interviewed Kizer Sept. 7 after the game.

4. Justice Hansen, Santa Fe (Edmond, Oklahoma)

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    Justice Hansen is a pro-style quarterback from Big 12 Country out of Santa Fe High School.

    He opened his 2012 campaign with a game to remember. He rallied the Wolves from a 20-point deficit to pull off the 50-42 victory.

    It was a wild one. It looked like Midwest City High School might pull off an escape act, but in the end, Hansen & Co. locked down.  

    He converted 19 of 29 passes for 287 yards and three TDs. He added another two scores via the ground.

    Hansen has all the tools to play at the next level. He is 6'3" and weighs 200 pounds. He runs a 4.65 40-yard dash and has a 34" vertical. He likes to stay in the pocket and does a nice job checking down his receivers.

    On the season, this junior is averaging 80 yards rushing and 245 yards passing per contest.

    He has received offers from Arkansas and Missouri. Other schools interested include Ohio State, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.

    He produced volcanic numbers his sophomore season. He threw for 2,917 yards and 27 TDs and ran for 529 yards and another eight scores.

    Oklahoma State would be a good match with its stable of talented receivers.

3. DeShaun Watson, Gainesville (Gainesville, Georgia)

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    Don't blink or he is gone.

    DeShaun Watson defines dual-threat quarterback. This Class AAA Player of the Year enjoyed a superb sophomore campaign, passing for 3,251 yards and running for 1,073 yards. He accounted for 57 TDs.

    Those are monstrous stats. 

    The 6'2", 185-pounder runs a 4.65 40-yard dash and has committed to Clemson. However, other schools like Ohio State, Florida State and Tennessee are still in hot pursuit.

    In fact, 247Sports/Bucknuts reported that Urban Meyer offered the 4-star stud a scholarship four days ago and invited him to attend a Buckeye home game this season.

    Gainesville High School lost its season opener 32-23, but since then Watson has been brilliant, showcasing his elusive speed, fancy footwork and live arm.

    The Red Elephants pulled off the big upset over Buford 19-15 on the road, snapping a 43-game home winning streak. Watson passed for 191 yards and three TDs and romped for 113 yards.

    Week 3 Watson had a record evening with seven TD passes (18 of 18 completions), and racked up 391 total yards.

    This juggernaut could start immediately at Georgia Tech, one of the first schools to make an offer.

2. Drew Barker, Conner (Burlington, Kentucky)

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    Pro-style quarterback Drew Barker has been busy on and off the field.

    He has guided the Conner Cougars to a 3-1 mark, and Friday night he passed for 371 yards and rushed for 110 yards.

    The 6'3", 204-pounder opened the season with 211 yards passing and two TDs.

    In Week 3, the sought-after recruit threw for 226 yards and three TDs and gained 168 yards and another score on the ground.

    This kid has a cannon for an arm and keeps the ball loaded at all times. Barker runs with Tim Tebow tenacity and has a nasty stiff-arm.

    Last season he passed for 1,297 yards and powered for 1,421 yards and 28 total TDs.

    Barker has received seven offers, including from South Carolina, Illinois, Cincinnati and Purdue. Overall, 21 schools have shown interest, including Ohio State and Michigan.

    He attended OSU's season opener against Miami (Ohio) and left impressed. He plans to make more college visits this fall.

    Louisville would be a nice fit for his skill set.

1. Jerrod Heard, Guyer (Denton, Texas)

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    Jerrod Heard is one of the top dual-threat quarterbacks in the country. He fits the same mold as Kizer and Watson.

    He received several offers, but chose Texas Aug. 14, 2012 over finalists LSU and Ohio State.

    The 6'2", 180-pounder definitely brings excitement to the game. Heard posted 2,286 yards passing and 650 yards running his sophomore season for Guyer High School.

    Favored to contend for a state title, the Wildcats are off to a sluggish 0-2 start. In those games, Heard was 25-of-26 for 336 yards and no TDs. He carried the ball 31 times for 222 yards (7.1 avg.) and six TDs.

    Heard is a pure quarterback with bionic legs. He can stand in the pocket and check down.

    Texas head coach Mack Brown will have plenty of decisions to make in two years. The depth chart shows sophomore David Ash as the starter, junior Case McCoy, and freshmen Connor Brewer and Jalen Overstreet. Tyrone Swoopes will arrive next season.

    Talk about quarterback controversy.

    Perhaps Heard can restore the Longhorns' winning tradition.

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