Call it a review of the view.
The U.S. Army All-American Bowl takes place Saturday. It features the nation’s premier high school football players at the Alamodome in San Antonio.
I rewatched last year’s game the other day and immediately zeroed in on the color commentator jabbering on TV. He announced with sure-fire authority that I’d just seen the No. 1 receiver in the nation catch a pass; that I’d just seen the No. 1 defensive end in America make a tackle; and that I'd just seen the country's highest-ranked linebacker chase down the nation's top running back for a loss.
Obviously, the guy had a sheet of paper in front of him where experts had established rankings for the players competing on the field.
Sometimes you wonder. How do you know?
So much depends on development, supporting cast and circumstance.
In doing a little research during the holidays, I reviewed the top high school quarterbacks of 2010 as rated by recruiting experts at Scout.com. I did so because so many quarterbacks in that class made significant waves before college and some unexpected ones were superstars in 2013, including MVPs of the Fiesta Bowl and Capital One Bowl. Several of these 2010 high school QBs will end up being NFL first-round draft picks in 2014.
Of note, the top three prep QBs of 2010 ended up transferring from their first college of choice, including Jake Heaps from BYU.
Here’s a rundown of the top five quarterbacks in the class of 2010:
1 . Jake Heaps, Skyline High, Sammamish, Wash., committed to BYU, transferred to Kansas after two seasons. At BYU, Heaps shared QB duties with Riley Nelson and earned MVP honors in the New Mexico Bowl in 2010. He became the first Cougar freshman to lead BYU to a bowl win. Heaps lost his job to Nelson in 2011 as a sophomore but came on in relief of an injured Nelson against Idaho. At Kansas he redshirted in 2012, started in 2013 but was replaced by Montell Cozart in several KU games. He completed 128 of 261 attempts for 1,414 yards, nine TDs and 12 interceptions. KU went 3-9 this year, but some KU experts say Heaps is favored to start as a senior in 2014.
2. Phillip Sims, Oscar Smith, Chesapeake, Va., signed with Alabama, transferred to Virginia after his freshman year. He played in 12 games after moving to Virginia and completed 114 of 203 passes and nine touchdowns, splitting time with Michael Rocco. He then left the Cavaliers in May 2013 and ended up enrolling at Winston-Salem State, a Division II school, after falling to third on Virginia’s roster. Virginia declared him ineligible academically when he left school.
3. Paul Jones, Sto-Rox, McKees Rocks, Pa., committed to Penn State. He redshirted as a freshman and was the scout team QB. In 2011, he had academic issues and sat out. In 2012, true freshman Steven Bench overtook Jones on the depth and he switched to tight end. He had one career catch for minus-7 yards before becoming the 14th Penn State player to leave school in the Jerry Sandusky child sex scandal. He ended up at Robert Morris, where in 2013 the senior threw for 1,651 yards and 15 touchdowns with a 110.4 quarterback rating.
4. Blake Bell, Bishop Carroll, Wichita, Kan., committed to Oklahoma. His big moments so far have come against rival Oklahoma State. His rushing touchdown in the closing seconds tied a game with the Cowboys in 2012 and led to a win; in 2013 he came off the bench as a third-string QB, replacing Kendall Thompson, who replaced injured starter Trevor Knight. His TD pass with 19 seconds left at Stillwater last month knocked OSU out of the Big 12 title. He has eight career starts for 1,763 passing yards, 12 touchdowns and six interceptions. He's nicknamed Blake “Bedlam” Bell for his role in two wins over OSU.
5. Devin Gardner, Inkster High, Inkster, Mich., committed to Michigan. He played in two games as a freshman in 2010, and backed up Denard Robinson in 2011, playing in eight games. In 2012 he converted to wide receiver but became the starting QB when Robinson got injured in the eighth game. He led the Wolverines to wins over Minnesota, Northwestern and Iowa. He started in 2013 with mixed results and fans were calling for his backup Shane Morris. But in game eight he got on a roll with eight TD passes and no picks. Gardner did not play due to a foot injury in a 31-14 loss to Kansas State in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl. In his career, he has completed 208 of 345 passes for 2,960 yards, 21 touchdowns with 11 interceptions. Michigan was 7-6 (3-5) this season.
Quarterbacks in that class who were not considered among the top 10 high school players in 2010 including the following interesting faces:
23. Sean Mannion, Foothill High, Pleasanton, Calif., committed to Oregon State. He teammed with WR Brandin Cooks to produce the most explosive passing combo in school history. He will likely set an OSU career percentage completion record. In 2013, he finished No. 2 in the NCAA in passing yards with 4,662.
25. Connor Halliday, Joel E. Ferris High, Spokane, Wash., committed to Washington State. Redshirted as a freshman. He played in four games as a redshirt freshman, nine as a sophomore, and in 2013 as a junior, he ranked No. 3 in the country in passing yards behind OSU’s Mannion with 4,597.
31. Connor Shaw, Flowery Branch, Flowery Branch, Fla., committed to South Carolina. He passed for 2,447 yards (No. 58 in NCAA) as a senior in 2013. He earned MVP honors in last week’s Capitol One Bowl and sealed his place as the greatest QB in school history with four touchdowns — three through the air and one on the ground — against Wisconsin. He is 27-5 as a starter for the Gamecocks.
35. Bryce Petty, Midlothian High, Midlothian, Texas, committed to Tennessee, which dropped him, and he signed at Baylor. NFL draft analyst Gil Brandt claims he is the No. 1 senior-to-be quarterback. He ranked No. 4 in the nation in passing yards with 4,200 in 2013 and earned Sports Illustrated honorable mention All-American honors.
Not rated: Blake Bortles, Oviedo High, Oviedo, Fla., signed with Central Florida. He just led UCF to the biggest upset in BCS Bowl history with a 52-42 win over Baylor in the 2013 Fiesta Bowl. UCF faithful say he has supplanted Daunte Culpepper as the greatest Knight player ever with a 12-win season. He is projected to be a first-round draft pick in the NFL this year.
Not Rated: Shane Carden, Episcopal High, Bellaire, Texas, signed with East Carolina. Redshirted as a freshman and played in one game as a redshirt freshman as a receiver and broke into the starting lineup as a sophomore. Ranked No. 6 in the NCAA in passing yards in 2013 with 4,139, just ahead of 2012 Hesiman winner Johnny Manziel at Texas A&M.
Other notables in that class include No. 50 Case McCoy, Graham High School, Graham, Texas, who signed with Texas; and No. 64 Tommy Rees, Lake Forest High, Lake Forest, Ill., who committed to Notre Dame.
Dick Harmon, Deseret News sports columnist, can be found on Twitter as Harmonwrites and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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