You have a better chance of tackling 2014 Longhorns quarterback commitment Jerrod Heard (Denton, Texas/Guyer) this postseason than you do getting him to brag about himself.
He immediately deflects any attention toward his offensive line, as any smart quarterback should do.
But if he patted himself on the back, hypothetically speaking of course, no one could blame him. He’s been nothing short of amazing in getting Guyer one victory away from the Class 4A Division I state championship, which Guyer will play for against Georgetown at noon Saturday at Cowboys Stadium.
In the postseason alone Heard has rushed 106 times for 856 yards and 13 touchdowns. In last week's thrilling victory over Tyler John Tyler he rushed 34 times for 318 yards and four touchdowns.
“Truly I have to give credit to my line,” Heard said of his efforts against John Tyler. “They made the holes that were just perfect for me. I just followed my lead blocker and next thing you know I was just in the flow trying to take it to the house or at least get as many yards as I could.”
Heard has really developed his passing in the playoffs, completing 49-of-74 passes for 691 yards, six touchdowns and three interceptions.
He is five yards away from eclipsing the 2,000-yard mark on the season and already has 30 rushing touchdowns. He has completed 147 of 237 passes (62 percent) for 1,901 yards, 15 touchdowns and seven interceptions.
Compare those numbers to what he put up a season ago, and one begins to understand how much he’s matured.
Last season Heard finished with 2,286 yards and 28 touchdowns through the air to go along with 10 interceptions in 223 attempts. He also rushed for far less, finishing with 650 yards and five touchdowns.
“The game is definitely changing,” Heard said. “Now I am starting to be more patient with the block and trusting the block and get to that green grass. I think that’s what I have improved on from last year. Last year I was just rushing and beating my lead blocker and taking the unnecessary hits. Now I am just being more patient and seeing everything. I’m looking at how the linebackers are flowing and making those cuts.”
Watching Heard in the midst of a crumbling pocket is where you can really see his growth. He doesn’t panic, always appears levelheaded, is trusting of his blockers to do their job and keeps his eyes downfield.
When he hits the open field he’s not going to break away with feet that produce the fastest 40-yard dash time, but his “football speed” will more than do the trick.
“Yeah I have football speed,” Heard said. “I probably don’t have the best 40 time but on the football field -- I have the speed to at least break away from the linebackers and make it hard for open-field tackles.”
Longhorns coaches have to like what they’ve seen from Heard over the last five games. They’ve also got to be pleased with his positive stance in the wake of offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin leaving for Arkansas State.
“Honestly I was excited for Harsin,” Heard said. “That’s a great thing to hear that he was taking that job and then to hear that [Major] Applewhite was taking his job was even better. I have a great relationship with Applewhite. I was just excited for Harsin though.”
Darrell Wyatt called Heard to tell him the news.
“He was just telling me about Harsin’s decision and who was taking over,” Heard said. “I was really accepting of that and Applewhite. I was excited to hear that Harsin was taking that roll. It was a great thing for everyone.”
Heard said he is more than comfortable having Applewhite as his quarterbacks coach, and would be fine if the Longhorns were to adopt more of a spread under his regime.
“He was a quarterback at Texas, so he is going to know as much as anyone,” he said. “I think having that person with the experience of playing at that school, you can’t ask for anything better.
“I am just very excited to talk more with him, maybe catch a camp and get 1-on-1 training from him. I am excited about that.”