It’s been quite clear for a while now that Jerrod Heard was destined for big things on the football field.
In fact, when Heard was a seventh-grader at Harpool Middle School, Guyer head coach John Walsh said he and his staff had already pegged him as the heir apparent to Walsh’s son, J.W., who was the starting quarterback at Guyer for three seasons and is now a redshirt freshman at Oklahoma State.
On Tuesday, Heard took the next step in establishing his own legacy when he committed to Texas, choosing the Longhorns over seven other prominent programs, including LSU and Ohio State, his other two finalists.
Oral commitments are non-binding. The first day a member of the class of 2014 can sign a national letter of intent is Feb. 5, 2014.
Heard, 6-foot-2, 195 pounds, is the state’s No. 6 recruit in his class, according to Rivals.com’s Lone Star Recruiting Top 100 and is the top-ranked quarterback.
“It was mainly because it’s Texas,” Heard said of his decision. “I really enjoyed the campus and the environment that the coaches put out there. I really appreciated how much the coaches cared about me and my family, too. That’s a big plus.”
Another factor that played into Heard’s decision was the offense the Longhorns run under second-year co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Bryan Harsin, who came to Texas after spending 10 seasons at Boise State.
“Their read keys are just like ours [at Guyer],” Heard said. “They do a lot of zone-read and they also have a great passing game. We basically use everything just like them — spread to zone-read to pro-style. They use it all, and so do we.”
The fact that Heard is committing before playing a game in his upcoming junior season would normally be cause for alarm, Walsh said.
But with the elite status of the Texas program, Walsh said it’s a little bit different.
“It amazes me how quick things go nowadays,” Walsh said. “It’s the culture we’re in as far as recruiting goes in college football and it’s the culture we have to live in. It’s such an established program, and with [Mack] Brown being such an established head coach, it makes it easier. If he was committing somewhere that I wasn’t real familiar with, I’d probably discourage it, but the fact he’s going to Texas and with coach Brown it makes it more comfortable for his family and for me.”
Heard burst onto the scene last season when he led Guyer to the area round of the Class 5A Division II playoffs, including a thrilling overtime win in the bi-district round against Hebron.
Heard completed 60 percent of his passes for 2,300 yards to go with 27 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He also proved to be a legitimate dual-threat quarterback — with 4.5 speed in the 40-yard dash — rushing for 717 yards and another five scores.
Walsh said Heard has proven he can do anything a quarterback is asked to do, which has put him in line to be the next big quarterback for Guyer with two more years of high school football still in his future.
“I think a lot of things come natural to him,” Walsh said. “That’s why he was so easy to recognize in middle school as a potential future Division I quarterback. Whether it’s running or throwing or just understanding the game, it’s natural for him. It just comes really easy.”
Heard follows a long line of quarterbacks coached by Walsh and his quarterbacks coach, Lee Vallejo, who went on to be quarterbacks at the Football Bowl Subdivision level.
Previously, the two coached quarterbacks who went to programs such as Miami of Florida and Texas A&M, as well as Jarrett Lee (LSU) and most recently J.W. Walsh.
“If you watch football, or know about football, you know that if you’ve got a good quarterback, then you’re probably gonna win a lot of ballgames,” Walsh said. “I’ve been fortunate to be around lots of Division I quarterbacks in my coaching career.”
Heard said he is fortunate to be the next in line, with the keys to an explosive offense on a state-championship contender. If his sophomore season was any indication, the Guyer offense could be in for even bigger things in 2012.
“They’re great coaches,” Heard said of Walsh and Vallejo. “They have coached a lot of Division I athletes, so that’s a plus. They also know the recruiting game, so they really talked to me. They’re great mentors for me. They’re just great people.”
What’s next for Heard now that he has his commitment out of the way? Walsh said the decision should come as a relief but it won’t add any extra pressure, at least not from within the Guyer program.
“I think Jerrod has expected this since he was an eighth-grader living through J.W.’s recruiting process,” Walsh said. “I don’t think it will affect him. I think when you commit it takes a lot of that busy time away. A lot of coaches will back off now. I think it will be a relief for him, and we’ll do a good job with him as far as not adding any undue pressure. The only pressure he has right now is performing for the Guyer Wildcats, and he’ll keep that in perspective.”
And there’s only one goal surrounding his Guyer team, Heard said.
“Now I’m just focused on what I have to do at Guyer, which is get a state ring,” Heard said. “It’s not really added pressure. I just look at it [committing to Texas] as motivation.”
ADAM BOEDEKER can be reached at 940-566-6872. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .