The Central Texas region has produced many big-time football prospects, and Texas has signed its share of them. Sons of Waco, Killeen and Belton have been impact players for the Longhorns in the last decade, but a notable talent well that Texas hasn't drawn from in recent memory is that of Temple High School.
The Wildcats won state football titles in 1979 and 1992 and were a Cen-Tex power for many years, but they have produced only three Texas football lettermen since the hiring of Darrell Royal 56 years ago, and the most recent one (Carl Robinson) played his last game for the Horns in 1982. Now there is a rising star who might just be the one to re-introduce the Temple Wildcat onto the Forty Acres after a 30-year absence, and this young man answers to the name "Mr. President."
Chad President is halfway through his sophomore
year at Temple and has already made a name for himself on the gridiron. He saw
playing time on varsity as a freshman wide receiver
in 2011, though he recorded only one reception. As a starter in 2012,
he became the favorite target of Syracuse-bound senior quarterback Zach Allen,
catching 34 passes for 788 yards (a Robbie Rhodes-like 23.2 yards/catch) and nine
touchdowns. And he did that while playing just over seven games at receiver.
President briefly took over quarterback duties when Allen was injured early in
a week eight contest with Naashon Hughes's and Darius James's Killeen Harker
Heights team, but he suffered an injury himself a few minutes later and was
forced to miss Temple's last two games. After the season, President was
named District 8-5A's Offensive Newcomer of the Year and unanimously
voted First Team All-District at wide receiver. (I feel I should mention
that 8-5A is not a district with an laughably inflated all-district team;
only three wide receivers were included on the First Team.) Later he was also
named All-Area Newcomer of the Year by the Killeen Daily Herald.
President will be inaugurated as Temple's starting quarterback in the fall and
could get college offers at that position down the line, but if nothing else,
his sophomore year highlights should put him squarely in the "best
in-state wide receivers in the 2015 class" conversation. Temple's
head football coach Mike Spradlin told me this week, "I have no
doubt [Chad] will be a great QB. He has a great arm and is as athletic as
any QB I have coached."
That is saying something considering the last two quarterbacks to start
for Spradlin (Zach Allen and Abilene Cooper alum Clayton
Nicholas) signed with Syracuse and Texas Tech, respectively.
But Coach Spradlin's endorsement of President gets stronger than that.
"Chad is the only freshman I have ever coached to play in a Class 5A
varsity football game, and that included playing time in our [2011 bi-district]
playoff game against Longview. I think he has a chance to be the best player I
have ever coached, and I have done this for 25 years."
For a comparison, Spradlin mentioned 2014 Texas commit Lorenzo Joe,
who also plays quarterback for his high school team but projects as a wide receiver
in college. Joe was a freshman at Abilene Cooper during Spradlin's last season
as head coach there (he took over at Temple in 2011). President
doesn't yet have a full season at quarterback under his belt - as Joe does -
and is as yet unproven there, but, as Spradlin says, "One thing is for
sure, we know he is a great receiver." (He also added, "Lorenzo Joe
is a stud, and a great kid. You guys will love him.")
At 6-3 and 190 pounds, he is two inches taller and about 10 pounds heavier than
that other guy people call Mr. President. Chad says he was told by a
doctor in October that he is still growing, and he could conceivably be as
tall as 6-5 or 6-6 by the time he graduates. He shows the ability to outrun
defensive backs after the catch, and when tacklers close in on him he is hard
to bring down and keeps his feet moving to stretch for extra yardage. He also
runs a pretty good hitch route and shows promise as a downfield blocker.
President has already heard from Texas and
Baylor and says both schools want him to attend their summer camps.
He names Baylor and Oregon (but surprisingly not Electoral) as favorite
colleges right now ("I love the pace of the offense and the tempo")
but obviously it's still very early in the process. That Baylor is onto President
so early is not surprising given two facts: Waco and Temple are only
30 miles apart, and Spradlin and Baylor head coach Art Briles have a friendship
that goes back over 35 years. The two were teammates in their playing
days at the University of Houston, and Spradlin later spent three seasons as an
assistant coach at Houston after Briles was hired as the Cougars' head coach in
2002. Sites vary on whether or not President has a Baylor offer, but it's only
a matter of time until that's conclusive. (Spradlin did say President has
already been offered by several FCS programs, who "frankly know they won't
likely have a shot" at signing him.)
President plans to attend several camps this summer but hasn't decided on which
ones (I didn't think to ask him if Camp David was one of his options). He told
me he would like to play quarterback in college but will play wherever he is
needed and "put in 110% at my position." The jury hasn't even been
convened yet on his future as a quarterback, but he'll get a ton of
offers based on his size, speed, and evident receiving skills, because if
things don't pan out for him at quarterback he can fall back on being one
of the most dangerous downfield threats in the class. And if he grows to 6-5
and fills out his body while retaining his speed, look out! (He could end up
taller than Lincoln and with more athleticism than Ford.)
As you can well imagine, he gets jokes and
remarks about his last name all the time from friends and coaches. Even the
local media gets in on it. Against district opponent Killeen Ellison,
President blew by his man and pulled in a 31-yard touchdown catch
with 16 seconds left in the game to give Temple a seven-point victory. The
Killeen Daily Herald's recap of the game sported the headline, "'Cats get
bailout from President, dodge upset". He has a sense of humor about it
all, though. "When I get older and have a wife she will be the First
Lady," he says.
Past Longhorn football rosters
have included two very notable Earls, at least a couple of Dukes, a few
minor Kings, a Major, and recently two real-life sergeants (Ahmard Hall
and Nate Boyer). Hopefully, the staff will be hard at work the next two
years on a campaign to bring UT football its first President.
Watch Chad President's sophomore
highlights here: http://www.hudl.com/athlete/1823032/#highlights/17324380
The only disappointing thing about them is
that he doesn't open the video with, "I'm Chad President, and I approved this message."