|Stephenville (TX) Stephenville quarterback Jarrett Stidham
Here’s another batch of quarterback scouting reports for the 2015 class. I spent a lot of time on these (too much time?), so hopefully they’re useful and enjoyable. You might remember that I did this for another group of quarterbacks at the beginning of January, but Michigan’s quarterback recruiting has stalled somewhat and some new names have popped up on the radar. Since that time, Blake Barnett and Jarrett Stidham have been offered, Doug Nussmeier was hired to replace Al Borges, and Ricky Town flipped from Alabama to USC, among other things. I’ll place this batch in order, and at the end of the post, I’ll give my own ranking of all the quarterback prospects.
1. Jarrett Stidham – QB – Stephenville (TX) Stephenville: Stidham is a 6’3″, 190 lb. prospect with offers from Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Florida, Miami, Michigan, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, Texas A&M, and Texas Tech, among others. He’s a 247 Composite 5-star, the #2 dual-threat quarterback, and #34 overall. He claims a 4.57 forty time. As a junior in 2013, he was 156/254 for 2,613 yards, 30 touchdowns, and 5 interceptions; he also ran 138 times for 821 yards and 14 touchdowns. Stidham is a polished spread quarterback, and he does a good job of making pre-snap reads and knowing where he wants to go with the ball. He has a little bit of a hitch in his delivery at times, but that doesn’t bother me much. He shows nice pocket awareness and stands tall while staying on his toes, so he’s always in a throwing position. He does not have a rocket for an arm, but he has above average arm strength. Perhaps the best thing about him is that he knows where to go with the ball and gets in there in a place where his receivers can run after the catch. One thing I noticed is that he does not have the most skilled receivers and running backs around him, yet he still puts up pretty big numbers. While Stidham is ranked as a dual-threat quarterback, he’s not an elusive or speedy runner; he makes hay on the ground by making good, quick reads in the option game. I see him more as a pro-style quarterback.
2. Ricky Town – QB – Ventura (CA) St. Bonaventure: Town is a 6’4″, 205 lb. prospect with offers from Alabama, Florida State, Georgia, Miami, Stanford, Texas, and UCLA, along with several others; he committed to USC in late January after being committed to Alabama. Michigan offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier recruited him to Alabama initially, and there is some scuttlebutt that Nussmeier extended a Michigan offer, too, but that has not been confirmed. Anyway, Town is a 247 Composite 5-star, the #2 pro-style quarterback, and #6 overall. As a junior in 2013, he completed 67% of his passes for 2,300 yards and 25 touchdowns. There’s a lot to like about Town, but not as much as Stidham, in my opinion. Town has superior arm strength, and he has quick feet taking his drop. He is not the most athletic guy and lacks creativity outside of the pocket, which will cause him to take some big and potentially dangerous hits. Town has a quick release at times, but sometimes he gets sloppy with his mechanics and holds the ball a little too low, causing a longer windup. The biggest issue I see with Town is that he tends to force the ball into tight windows, and he doesn’t always put it in the most catchable spot or lead his receivers to yards after the catch. Too many times he passes up wide open receivers to hit receivers who are in double-coverage or about to get lambasted. He has the ability to make every throw, which is tantalizing, but I’m not sure that he’s the best decision maker.
3. Blake Barnett – QB – Corona (CA) Santiago: Barnett is a 6’3″, 195 lb. prospect with offers from Arizona, Cal, Ole Miss, UCLA, and West Virginia; he committed to Notre Dame in November 2013. He’s a 247 Composite 4-star, the #3 pro-style quarterback, and the #83 player overall. His Hudl profile suggests a 4.7 forty, a 4.4 pro agility shuttle, a 30″ vertical, a 240 lb. bench max, and a 375 lb. squat max. As a junior in 2013, he had 2,332 passing yards and 22 touchdowns, along with 695 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns on the ground. I’m a little bit at odds with his ranking as a pro-style quarterback, because Barnett does a lot of work with his legs. He’s not a dynamic runner who will break open the game by running the ball, but he can keep a play alive, move the chains, and occasionally bust a long one; his running style reminds me of former Wolverine Tate Forcier. As a passer, Barnett has solid mechanics. He works mostly out of a shotgun spread look, so his footwork and progressions from under center might be question marks. He has adequate arm strength but shows nice touch on the ball, throwing some very nice corner routes and seam routes. Barnett also shows that he goes through progressions, is able to look off defenders, and check the ball down to his second and third options, at least. He looks like a Brian Kelly type of quarterback to me.
4. Brian Lewerke – QB – Phoenix (AZ) Pinnacle: Lewerke is a 6’3″, 180 lb. prospect with offers from Arizona, Arizona State, Louisville, Ole Miss, UCLA, and West Virginia. He’s a 247 Composite 3-star, the #21 pro-style quarterback, and #483 overall. He claims a 4.67 forty, a 4.26 shuttle, a 32″ vertical, a 195 lb. bench max, and a 280 lb. squat. As a junior in 2013, he was 167/316 for 2,780 yards, 33 touchdowns, and 6 interceptions; he also had 464 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns. Lewerke is a kid with a good frame who looks like he’ll continue to grow and fill out to be well over 200 lbs. Listed as a pro-style quarterback, he can run a little bit and is difficult to take down on the move; he won’t run away from many people, but he should be able to move the chains if you forget about him. When he scrambles, he keeps his eyes downfield looking for receivers and can throw on the move. Lewerke has a quick release and can deliver the ball on a line, in tight spaces, or with touch over the top. I was not extremely impressed with his sophomore film, but I think he took a big step forward as a junior.
5. Brandon Wimbush – QB – Jersey City (NJ) St. Peter’s Prep: Wimbush is a 6’2″, 205 lb. prospect with offers from Miami, Nebraska, Ohio State, Penn State, Rutgers, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia Tech, among others. He’s a 247 Composite 4-star, the #5 dual-threat quarterback, and #163 overall. As a junior in 2013, he was 52/80 for 822 yards, 8 touchdowns, and 3 interceptions; he also ran 25 times for 237 yards and 2 touchdowns and claims a 4.65 forty. Wimbush is a thick and powerful kid who reminds me a little bit of former Ohio State quarterback Troy Smith. He has good speed without being blazingly fast, and he has enough power to run through a tackle here or there, too; if he’s running downhill at a cornerback or safety with 2 yards to go for a first down, my Monopoly money’s on Wimbush. He has a powerful arm with a little bit of a long release, though it’s high enough to prevent some batted balls. Wimbush has the speed, strength, and creativity to make things happen outside the pocket. I would like to see him get rid of the ball a little quicker and have a better command of the offense and reading defenses, because some of his throws take too long to develop, which won’t be as much of an option at the next level. The physical skills are there for Wimbush, and I wouldn’t even call him a developmental prospect, because he’s not a project; he’s just a guy who appears to need a little seasoning.
6. Travis Waller – QB – Anaheim (CA) Servite: Waller is a 6’3″, 185 lb. prospect with offers from Arizona and Washington. He’s a 247 Composite 4-star, the #7 dual-threat quarterback, and #213 overall. Waller is a tantalizing prospect, but he’s a project. It’s not a surprise at all that Arizona is on his offer list – at first glance, his playing style reminds me of former Michigan commit Shavodrick Beaver. Waller has very good speed, and he’s a gangly but effective runner who shows determination and toughness in powering through tackles. His ball handling needs a lot of work, his footwork is inconsistent, and his team’s offense looks a little simple; that last point is perhaps more about his coaching than him, but nonetheless, it speaks to the level at which he’s expected to understand and perform. There are a lot of mirrored routes and simple route combinations, unlike those of a few other prospects on the list. He also plays in a somewhat gimmicky Texas Tech-style offense that has four or five receivers, extra wide splits by the linemen, etc. It’s a wide open offense that serves its purpose by opening up some lanes for him to run and throw, but it doesn’t lend itself to a lot of college systems. Waller has a somewhat long delivery, but he has a strong arm and can push the ball downfield. I mentioned Beaver up above, but his game is also somewhat reminiscent of former Baylor Bear and current Washington Redskin Robert Griffin III.
7. Kelly Bryant – QB – Piedmont (SC) Wren: Bryant is a 6’4″, 205 lb. prospect with offers from Clemson, Duke, Florida, North Carolina, Ole Miss, South Carolina, and Virginia Tech, among others. He’s a 247 Composite 3-star, the #19 dual-threat quarterback, and #549 overall. Bryant is a true dual-threat quarterback who can hurt teams with his arm and his legs. He lacks the speed and elusiveness of the great dual-threats, but he has good speed and is more of a slashing runner than a stop/start guy. In that aspect, he reminds me a little bit of Clemson’s Tajh Boyd. As a thrower, Bryant has decent footwork out of the shotgun, but his arm mechanics are questionable; he tends to push the ball, and because of that, he lacks great arm strength. He throws the ball well when going to his right, but he could work on squaring his shoulders when rolling to the left. Ole Miss and Clemson appear to be the leaders.
Here’s how I would rank the 20 quarterback prospects I’ve reviewed so far, and you may notice that some of them have been re-ranked. (This is mostly because I think Nussmeier wants a more mobile quarterback who can create with his feet, and it’s slightly because I’ve let things simmer for a bit longer.)
1. Josh Rosen
2. Jarrett Stidham
3. Kyle Kearns
4. Zach Gentry
5. Blake Barnett
6. Ricky Town
7. Brian Lewerke
8. Brady White
9. Kevin Dillman
10. Brandon Wimbush
11. Alex Malzone
12. Travis Waller
13. Kelly Bryant
14. Sheriron Jones
15. Nick Johns
16. Jack Beneventi
17. Jimmy Fitzgerald
18. David Sills
19. Riley Neal
20. David Edwards
Blue = Go ahead and offer these guys
Green = Offer if the first eight don’t bite
Red = I do not see this being a match