Head of the class
It’s been a long time coming for Guyer quarterback Jerrod Heard.
Despite a few bumps in the road, the senior is set to sign his national letter of intent today to play college football for Texas, where he committed to following his sophomore season before he was a two-time state champion.
Heard and other athletes in the Denton area will ink their collegiate future on a piece of paper on national signing day.
There are several players in the area committed to Football Bowl Subdivision schools, but Heard is the biggest highlight of the class of 2014, entrenched as Texas’ quarterback target as a 16-year-old.
“He’s always worked to get better, and he’s doing that right now,” Guyer coach John Walsh said. “He knows he’s not good enough right now. When you have that attitude and you know that, you want to be great.
“He’s real humble in the way he carries himself, and that just reflects through your program. Kids feed off that. They know he’s a worker and a great player. If Jerrod’s trying to get better, then we’d all better try to get better.”
It’s hard to imagine a high school quarterback much better than Heard, a rare two-time state championship quarterback and two-time selection as the state championship game’s offensive MVP.
He finished his career as a three-year starter with 6,512 passing yards and 67 touchdowns to go with 4,949 rushing yards and 67 scores. He is the fourth-ranked dual-threat quarterback in the country according to Rivals.com.
“He’s one of those guys that can change a program,” said Cedar Hill coach Joey McGuire, who coached against Heard the past three seasons. “He’s a great athlete, but he also seems like a great leader. I think he’ll do a great job at Texas with the offense they’re going to run.”
Heard seemingly feels the same way, as evidenced by his decision to stick with his Texas commitment after longtime head coach Mack Brown resigned and the majority of his staff was let go last month and replaced by former Louisville coach Charlie Strong, known for his no-nonsense, disciplined approach.
After Brown’s exit from the Longhorn program, Heard was inundated with interest from several programs. He received the heaviest interest from UCLA, Missouri, Nebraska and Boise State, but ultimately Heard decided to stay with Strong.
“I like how he wants to run his offense,” Heard said. “He has so much wisdom about football and life, period. You just want to be around him. I was even more willing to stay because of that.”
Heard leads an area class rich with talent, and perhaps no school was richer than Argyle, the Class 3A Division II state champion that sported five players headed to FBS programs today, another signing with Texas for track and field and yet another who committed to Arizona State as a junior over the weekend.
“I’ve been coaching for 25 years, and I know talent is cyclical,” Argyle football coach Todd Rodgers said. “There’s an ebb and flow of talent in kids coming in, and we’ve been on the up cycle for the last few years. They had tremendous experience and made contributions that year back in the 2011 state championship game [an Argyle loss], and it paid off this year.”
Argyle has wide receiver/do-it-all threat Ian Sadler (Texas Tech), safety Connor Wilson (Texas Tech), linebacker Sam Sizelove (Kansas State), kicker Cole Hedlund (Arkansas) and defensive lineman Micah Capra (Air Force) securing their college futures today.
“To win state this year on the shoulders of that many Division I recruits, I feel very blessed,” Rodgers said. “It’s a blessing for the kids not getting that major exposure, too, because they get to play with great players and call them their friends.”
The area has several other players going on to play football at the FBS level, including Guyer linebacker Demontrie Taylor (Colorado State), offensive lineman Bryan Barrett (Navy), Lake Dallas wide receiver Josh Jackson, who’s signing with Iowa to play defensive back, and two Ryan defenders who are continuing the Raiders’ tradition of pushing out high-level recruits on the defensive line.
Defensive tackle J.T. Williams has offers from Massachusetts and Southern Mississippi, while defensive end Sekou Clark is mulling offers from Vanderbilt, Louisiana-Monroe, Texas State, Boise State and Washington State. Both are expected to sign today.
“The programs and the coaches around here have a lot of talent, but they come through really good football programs,” new Denton school district athletic director and former Ryan head coach Joey Florence said. “I’ve been here 14 years, and it’s been this way since I’ve been here. It’s fun to see how much talent comes from just this little pocket. Lake Dallas had their players, then Guyer, Ryan and Argyle. This year is pretty impressive.”
Walsh, whose team has repeated Ryan’s feat from the early 2000s in winning back-to-back titles, said it’s no coincidence that some of the best players signing today come from such a small area.
A quick 17-mile drive could take college coaches from Argyle to Guyer and finally to Ryan, and Walsh said it’s easy to see why college coaches frequent the three campuses.
“Since I’ve been here, signing day has always been a neat thing to see how many guys in this area actually sign to go Division I,” Walsh said. “The amount of state championship games played in between Guyer, Ryan and Argyle since the early 2000s around here is incredible. Since Ryan’s been rolling, our three teams have played in 11 title games. It’s not a coincidence. There’s some programs doing right and kids buying in and working their tail off to fulfill their dreams to play college football.”
ADAM BOEDEKER can be reached at 940-566-6872 and via Twitter at @aboedeker.