NCF On The Trail: Jarrett Stidham

Under Armour All-American quarterback Jarrett Stidham, a one-time Texas Tech verbal, is now on board with Baylor. Below, see how Stidham can help Art Briles continue to terrorize Big 12 defenses:

Early Offer: The dead period is here 

December, 14, 2014
Dec 14
What is the dead period and why is it an important time in football recruiting? Plus, Texas Tech’s loss at quarterback could be Baylor’s gain.

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Go ahead and debate who should have been in the inaugural College Football Playoff, but there’s no debating Bama, Oregon, FSU and OSU dominate in recruiting.

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UA jersey tour: Breiden Fehoko

November, 19, 2014
Nov 19
Breiden Fehoko received his Under Armour All-America Game jersey on Wednesday during a ceremony sponsored by American Family Insurance and attended by Fehoko’s friends, family, coaches and teammates in Honolulu.

“It was a surreal experience,” Fehoko said. “As a kid watching all the guys go through this and finally to have my dreams come true, it was such an awesome experience.”

The fact that several of Fehoko’s family members were in attendance is little surprise, as the 6-foot-3, 290-pound, ESPN 300 defensive tackle has always placed a high priority on family -- it’s a significant reason he ultimately made the decision to commit to Texas Tech.

Fehoko’s oldest brother, Sam, played football for the Red Raiders and his other brother, V.J., is a linebacker at Texas Tech now. The Fehokos have spent plenty of time at Texas Tech during the past few years and V.J.’s decision to transfer there from Utah certainly helped the Red Raiders eventually land a commitment from the younger Fehoko, the nation’s No. 53 overall prospect.

“For V.J., he really sets the tone for me,” Fehoko said. “Being that older brother above me, he molded me into what I am by showing me what I need to be to accomplish what I want to do.”

Though Texas Tech is 3-7 and the defense has given up 35 points or more in seven games, Fehoko said he has no thoughts of looking elsewhere.

“I’m done with this,” Fehoko said of his recruitment. “I’ve already signed my financial aid agreement and I’m confident in my decision.”

Eight questions with Breiden Fehoko

What players are you looking forward to competing with or against at the UA Game?

Fehoko: I’m looking forward to playing with Jarrett Stidham, as well as Fred Ulu-Perry and Canton Kaumatule.

If you could start a team with any player in your class, who would it be?

Fehoko: I’d probably go with Jarrett [Stidham]. He’s a dual threat and it’s not just the fact that he’s committed to my school. You see what he did with Stephenville (Texas) this year. Dude’s a player, and you always want to build your team around a quarterback.

Who is the best player to ever play in the UA Game?

Fehoko: Guys like Jadeveon Clowney and Manti Te’o. They really set the tone and were guys that balled out in this game. They didn’t just go there to experience the atmosphere. Those are guys I looked up to and I want to go fill those shoes.

What is your earliest football memory?

Fehoko: I was about 4 or 5 years old and my dad made me suit up with my older brothers in the back yard. Boy did I get tossed around. I’m thankful for it now, but that was real backyard football.

Which football player do you idolize or model your game after?

Fehoko: A whole bunch of guys, but one guy I like to model my game after is Aaron Donald. I like the way he’s so explosive and has great hands. Another guy is John Randle, the legend. His motor is as fast as mine.

If you could take on any pro player in their sport, who would it be?

Fehoko: Christiano Ronaldo, hands down. That guy is probably one of the most hated and respected athletes in the world. Hopefully I could get some of the women he gets as well.

Why do you wear your number?

Fehoko: No. 1 represents my older sister, Brittany. She passed on, and every time I take the field, I’m proud to wear it.

What is one thing people would be surprised to learn about you?

Fehoko: I’m kind of a genius with computers. On the field I’m smashmouth and talk a bunch of crap, but off the field my hobby is working with computers.

UA jersey tour: Jarrett Stidham

November, 13, 2014
Nov 13
STEPHENVILLE, Texas -- At about this time two years ago, Texas Tech-bound Jarrett Stidham was one of the most dynamic sophomore football players in Texas.

As a wide receiver. Not as a quarterback.

Before Stidham was one of the nation’s best dual-threat quarterbacks, he was a reliable pass-catching option for Tyler Jones, who now is a sophomore and the starting quarterback at Texas State. Stidham won a state championship as a receiver, but playing quarterback was his goal.

And once he achieved that goal, he delivered success to Stephenville High School. On Thursday, Stidham was rewarded for his play during an Under Armour All-America Game jersey ceremony, sponsored by American Family Insurance.

“I’m very blessed to be in this position. I was telling my buddy earlier that this is one of my biggest dreams come true,” said Stidham, the No. 3-ranked dual-threat quarterback. “As a kid growing up, you always watch these high school guys in All-American games, and you want to be one of those guys. I’m fortunate to be one now, and I couldn’t be happier.”

As a player with more than 20 offers, Stidham has signed a financial aid agreement with Texas Tech, and he’s planning to graduate early and joining the Red Raiders for spring practices. Stidham currently is recovering from a broken right hand last month, but there’s a good chance he can return this season if Stephenville advances deep in the playoffs.

But before he makes it to Lubbock, look for Stidham to enjoy his time in Florida and be a contributor in the all-star game. Also, look for him to simply live the moment -- a moment that at one time, he was unsure would come because of his position change.

“Looking back on everything, I didn’t know what to think. I was always the guy who got the ball every snap,” Stidham said. “But Tyler did his thing, and he set us up to win a state championship. I just rolled with it, and it ended up being a good thing. I’m very thankful where I am now.”

Quick hits on Jarrett Stidham

Best UA Game player ever: “I’d probably have to go with [Jadeveon] Clowney. He’s a man-child.”

Player you look up to: “I really like Marcus Mariota. I love the way he plays and how he handles the offense, gets out in space to tuck and run and make plays with his arm.”

Why do you wear your number? “I wear No. 1. I think I picked it mostly to be different. A lot of quarterbacks are wearing 7 or 10 or 4. Cam Newton wears No. 1, but you usually don’t see quarterbacks wearing it.”

Who wins a QB contest: You or Kliff Kingsbury? “I’m going to go out on a limb and say I can beat Coach Kliff. If he wants to go, I’ll go.”

Favorite football memory: “Other than winning state, I’d probably have to go with our third-round [playoff] game last year against Big Spring. We were down four with 35 seconds left, and we drove down 65 yards to score. I threw a touchdown with about four seconds left to win.”

Favorite sport that’s not football: “I’ve always liked basketball, but I like international soccer. The World Cup, I can watch it all day.”

Did you know … “I enjoy hunting. I’ve always been kind of a city boy, but I just got into it this fall. I like getting all camo’d up. It’s one of the most relaxing times that I have. It’s a thrill if a big buck comes out. A lot of people don’t expect me to be a hunter, but I enjoy the heck out of it.”

After reviewing performances at The Opening last week, here are a few quick hits on how each Elite 11 quarterback performed:

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BEAVERTON, Ore. -- Pac-12 programs hold commitments from 13 prospects who participated in Nike's The Opening this week, including four quarterbacks who finished in the final Elite 11 quarterback ranking and two offensive linemen who were named to the Final Five on that side of the ball. Though the conference will undoubtedly finish with commitments from many more of the recruits in attendance, we take a look at how the 13 commitments fared over the four days.

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Elite 11 Day One: Takeaways 

July, 6, 2014
Jul 6
BEAVERTON, Ore. -- The 2014 Elite 11 officially got underway Sunday morning with a fast-paced two-hour workout split into three groups that included the 19 prospects and six camp counselors. The counselors included Baylor's Bryce Petty, Utah's Travis Wilson and Notre Dame's Everett Golson.

Here are 10 takeaways from the opening session.

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video Sam Darnold needs to send Kyler Murray a thank-you note.

When Murray committed to Texas A&M on May 28, it set off a recruiting ripple effect that has touched some of the top teams in the country. The moves and countermoves from other programs have suddenly made Darnold the hottest quarterback prospect in the country.

It’s could also lead to him eventually becoming a Duck.

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Recruiting the right quarterback means a tremendous amount to every college football program.

In the Class of 2015, the race has been on for months for programs in need of signal-callers.

With the calendar having turned to June, there are more than 55 quarterbacks who have given verbal commitments to FBS programs.

Most recently, Florida snagged West Coast prospect Sheriron Jones over the weekend. In all, 39 of 62 programs in the Power Five conferences have QB commitments, and more are on the way.

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The recruiting efforts of Charlie Strong at Texas received a significant boost on Monday afternoon, as Zach Gentry -- the nation's No. 2 pocket passer quarterback -- took to Twitter to announce his commitment to the Longhorns.

The 6-foot-6, 230-pound strong-armed signal-caller represents a huge recruiting win for Strong, as Texas beat schools such as Alabama, Oklahoma State and Tennessee. Gentry could also represent a change in direction for the Longhorns at the position, the quarterbacks signed by the Longhorns in the last three classes -- Connor Brewer, Tyrone Swoopes and Jerrod Heard -- were all dual-threats. In Gentry, the Longhorns are getting an athletic pocket passer -- a capable runner, but more reliant on his arm -- and someone Strong and his staff were in on early during their time at Louisville. In fact, Gentry took only one unofficial visit to Texas this spring before feeling comfortable enough to make his decision.

It's a great rebound for Texas, which missed out on quarterback targets such as Josh Rosen, Jarrett Stidham, Ricky Town and Drew Lock early in the process. But the Longhorns certainly didn't settle for Gentry. At No. 72 in the ESPN 300, Gentry is the highest-rated prospect to commit to Strong during his Texas tenure.

As a junior, Gentry threw for 1,587 yards and nine touchdowns against three interceptions, and also added the bulk of his team's rushing yards -- 617 yards and a team-high 16 touchdowns.

Gentry's commitment gives Texas 10 pledges in the 2015 class, and he could boost the nation's No. 11 recruiting class into the top 10.

New Mexico is not known for producing many big-time recruits, but it did send quarterback Landry Jones to Oklahoma in the 2008 class, and offensive lineman Matt Hegarty to Notre Dame in 2011. reporter Max Olson contributed to this story.

When asked to define his quarterback style, whether he was more of a pocket-passing or a dual-threat option, Kyler Murray gave the simplest answer he could.

“I’m a quarterback,” Murray said.

Those are three words echoed by many players in Murray’s position. Murray is the No. 1 dual-threat quarterback in the country, but maybe more importantly, at No. 14 in the ESPN 300, he’s the top-ranked overall quarterback. That’s how he wants to be considered. And recognized at all times.

The phrase “dual-threat quarterback,” to some quarterbacks classified as such, holds negative connotation. Many of the quarterbacks don’t have the prototypical college quarterback build. Murray is 5-foot-11 and 170 pounds. Florida State commit De'Andre Johnson is right at 6 feet and weighs 169 pounds. Clemson commit Tucker Israel is 6 feet and 189 pounds. Johnson and Israel, ranked Nos. 9 and 11 among dual-threat quarterbacks nationally, are built more like slot receivers.

Kansas State commit Alex Delton, who is 6 feet and 187 pounds, says the “dual-theat” label is all about stereotype. So players like Delton take the practice fields and go to camps and combines with two intentions. First, to compete against some of the best the country has to offer, and second, to prove to coaches that size -- or lack thereof -- shouldn’t trump talent when evaluating the position.

“To most people, being called ‘dual threat’ says that I’m a runner most of the time,” said Delton, the nation’s No. 24 dual-threat quarterback. “But all of us are quarterbacks. If we weren’t, we wouldn’t be playing this position.

“I’m a quarterback; that’s what I’ve played my whole life. People shouldn’t think I’m purely a runner since I’m called a dual-threat quarterback.”

[+] EnlargeKyler Murray
Tom Hauck for Student SportsForget dual-threat or pocket-passer. Kyler Murray is simply one of the best QBs in the nation with offers from Oregon, OU, Clemson and Ohio State, among others.
The Dallas Elite 11 regional competition on May 4 proved that dual-threat quarterbacks can be just as effective as pocket passers. Five of the top seven finishers are classified as dual-threat options, and the event MVP, Jarrett Stidham, is the No. 2 dual-threat quarterback in the country.

Physically, Stidham has the stature of a pro-style quarterback at 6-3 and 180 pounds, but his athleticism and playmaking ability out of the pocket make him an ideal dual-threat candidate. Stidham threw for nearly 2,700 yards and 30 touchdowns and rushed for nearly 1,000 yards and 16 scores, which supports the dual-threat argument.

“I think sometimes with dual-threat guys, people don’t think of us throwing as well as pocket passers,” Stidham said. “They think that we’d rather run before throwing, and in my case, I’d much rather throw 100 percent of the time than run. It just so happens I can get out the pocket a little and make some runs.

“I think some think automatically, we want to run first. Half the time, it’s the other way around.”

Stidham is committed to Texas Tech, and Red Raiders head coach Kliff Kingsbury likely saw, like many other recruiters, that Stidham’s arm strength was just as good as his ability to escape danger in the pocket. It is also impossible to ignore the athleticism, as Stidham played wide receiver his sophomore year of high school and caught passes from Tyler Jones, who now is calling plays at Texas State.

Quarterbacks such as Stidham, Notre Dame commit Blake Barnett (6-5, 191) and uncommitted ESPN 300 standouts Kai Locksley (6-4, 190), Travis Waller (6-3, 188) and Dwayne Lawson (6-4, 200) have the builds of traditional college pocket passers. They just also have the ability to make plays with their legs as well as their arms.

Kingsbury has coached his share of quarterbacks of all sizes. Last year, he coached Davis Webb (6-4, 195) and Baker Mayfield (6-2, 220). In his final year as offensive coordinator for Texas A&M in 2012, he coached Johnny Manziel -- who, at a shade under 6 feet and 207 pounds, went on to win a Heisman Trophy and was selected 22nd overall by the Cleveland Browns in Thursday’s NFL draft.

“I wouldn’t say I have a preference. If you can do it all, the sky’s the limit,” Kingsbury said. “If you’re a guy who sits in the pocket, you'd better be highly cerebral and know pre-snap reads and be able to check to the right places. If you can make plays with your feet, it gives you more leeway to where if you’re in a bad play, you can still extend it.

“There are all types of guys who try to play like Tom Brady, but Russell Wilson just won a Super Bowl. You can’t overlook that.”

The 2015 dual-threat quarterback is an attractive prospect. Seventeen quarterbacks have committed to FBS programs already, the latest being high-three-star prospect Lorenzo Nunez, who is headed to South Carolina. Fifteen quarterbacks are four-star players, and 10 of the 15 are ESPN 300 players.

“We’re just as good as the pocket-passing quarterbacks,” Delton said. “Some people think I’m going to run a lot, but I like getting on the field and showing that I can throw it, too.”

“We want a player who is great at what he does,” Kingsbury said. “If that means he can excel in the pocket, great. If that means he can find ways to make plays with his feet outside the pocket, great. We want guys who can move the ball on offense and be a leader on the team.”

That’s something Murray does – and does well.

Of all the quarterbacks, Murray probably has heard the most questions. He’s had his size come up in multiple conversations -- and with every performance on the field, he silences a new recruiter or an old critic. Murray specializes in results. In two varsity seasons, he has two state championships -- and will go for a third this fall.

Murray now has more than 20 offers, including ones from Texas, Oklahoma, Ohio State, Florida, Oregon and Clemson.

“You can’t let any of that get in the way of your goals,” Murray said. “I know what I can do, and I work hard every day just to get better. People are going to say what they want to say. I’m just trying to go out and win football games.”
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Dallas Elite 11 regional camp on Sunday was certainly one of the most well-attended camps of the season. And while the usual suspects of high-profile quarterbacks in the 2015 and 2016 classes were on hand, there were also many other fine prospects in attendance who are starting to garner more significant attention as college coaches get out on the road this spring.

If you are a follower of the recruiting world, names like Kyler Murray (uncommitted) and Jarrett Stidham (Texas Tech) are now commonplace, but this camp showcased many intriguing prospects who have been slipping under the radar to some degree and should see their stock rise as we head into the fall of their senior years.

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ARLINGTON, Texas -- ESPN 300 quarterback and Texas Tech commit Jarrett Stidham battled against roughly 70 quarterbacks from 12 states to win the Dallas Elite 11 regional competition on Sunday and earn an invitation to the Elite 11 nationals this summer.

That was the first part of good news for those who follow Texas Tech football. Having Stidham confirm after the event that he doesn’t plan on taking any outside visits to schools may have been the news that made Red Raiders fans even happier.

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Big 12 roundtable: 2015 recruiting 

April, 15, 2014
Apr 15
Even though almost 10 months remain until the next national singing day, teams across the Big 12 have jumped off to fast starts in putting together their 2015 classes.

To catch you up on all the recruiting storylines that have developed so far, we checked in with senior national recruiting writer Jeremy Crabtree and Big 12 recruiting reporter Damon Sayles for their takes:

Which team has impressed you the most with its 2015 recruiting?

Crabtree: With all of the questions West Virginia faced in the offseason and the product the Mountaineers put on the field in 2013, you would think they would be struggling out of the gate with the 2015 class. But it has been the exact opposite. WVU has 10 commitments, including from one of the best receivers in the country, Jovon Durante. West Virginia is selling kids on an opportunity to play early and make a big difference in getting the program back on track. Plus, it has gone back to its roots and mined the very familiar recruiting territory of Florida for some of its best pledges.

Sayles: As much as I like what Texas Tech and TCU have done so far, I have to tip my hat to what West Virginia has accomplished. The Mountaineers have a pair of ESPN Junior 300 players in safety Kendrell McFadden and Durante. The Mountaineers are recruiting the state of Florida well; five of the 10 pledges are from the Sunshine State. West Virginia is off to a fast start, and with the program fresh off a successful spring game, more big-time commits could be coming soon.

Who has disappointed?

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