Football Recruiting

An Inside Look at Wichita Falls Rider Quarterback J.T. Barrett Through His Coach’s Perspective

Leave it to Texas fans to immediately move from the chloroformed Ash/McCoy controversy, to the non-existent one not surrounding 2013 prospects Tyrone Swoopes and J.T. Barrett. I see fans all over the place picking sides as if they’ve seen enough of either one to truly formulate an opinion.
That’s not to say there isn’t intrigue in the big decision the coaching staff has in front of them, because there is. Not only because quarterback is the marquee position, but also because both quarterbacks are supremely gifted. To me, the main source of intrigue is in the use of the phrase “still evaluating” when it comes to who to offer. That’s interesting because I take that to mean the staff is split, and when I say that, I think Mack Brown and Bryan Harsin are perhaps on different sides of this one. Not in a rock and stick fight sort of way or anything, but I could see Mack harkening back to the height of his coaching tenure every time he watches Tyrone Swoopes, while Harsin covets the more polished and more playbook conducive J.T. Barrett. Whatever the coaching staff decides, I’m going to back the decision while rooting for the other kid wherever he ends up. I do tend, however, to lean towards Barrett. Not because I think he’s necessarily the better player, but because I think he would provide the more seemless transition. I still have no idea what the staff is going to do, so I decided to catch up with somebody that might; the very Presidential sounding James Garfield. Coach Garfield is the Commander-in-chief at Wichita Falls and I wasted no time getting to the heart of the matter. So Coach, who’s it going to be, your guy J.T. Barrett, or Tyrone Swoopes? “They’re still evaluating.” Damn it. We then talked at length (just pull the string on almost any Texas high school coach and you’ll be rewarded with great insights) about the type of player and person J.T. is. Many different components go into making a great signal caller. Coach and I hit on the five main ones. In no particular order they are: athleticism, arm/mechanics, build, information processing and leadership. ATHLETICISM The sexiest of all traits, athleticism is the ‘slow motion entrance to the room by the unattainable cocktail dress clad socialite doing the hair flip while vibrantly smiling’ routine. It gets me every time and it can mask a lot of flaws. Mainly the fact that she, like all other estrogen fueled beings, was put on this planet to glare at you every time you pick up your lap top to write. “What, I’m making New Years Eve reservations for us.” Though unbridled athleticism can get you into trouble at times, it is often the deciding factor in a game or an entire season when dispersed evenly through the scheme, right coach? “J.T. is a true dual threat,” said Garfield. “If the defense is going to give us plays while we’re running 5 step pocket stuff, we’ll take it. If we need to get J.T. out on the run, we’ll take that as well. His ability to do so much really puts the defense in a position of pick your own poison.” “I’ve coached a lot of good athletes, both in high school and in college, and J.T. is one of the best pure athletes I’ve coached. He’s got a lot of the same tools as Shavodrick Beaver had.” ARM/MECHANICS A lot of guys have a big arm and slow release. Some guys have no arm and a quick release. Often times pure arm strength is vastly overrated or at least that’s what noted scholar Jeff George taught me. One thing that can’t be belabored enough is quality mechanics. “We work with J.T. all the time on his mechanics,” Garfield explained. “About squaring his shoulders when he’s on the run and keeping his release point nice and high. We have what we call ‘throwing it through the hallway’ which means putting the ball on a line. J.T. is great at that and his arm might be stronger than Beaver’s was.” “J.T. also throws a great deep ball. He aims small and misses small. We also run a lot of screen game, it’s one of our major plays, and J.T. has a nice touch on those passes.” BUILD A good build is obviously important, especially for a dual threat passer that’s not only susceptible to blindside exposure, but also the type of running back pounding that limits careers. Somewhere on an ESPN set, Steve Young is swatting away animated birds circling his head. “J.T. is 6-foot-2 and during the football season he was 210-pounds, but with basketball now he’s probably down to about 195 pounds. He’s a solidly built kid though and he’s no fun to tackle. The one area Shavodrick definitely had him in is height.” CEREBRAL APPROACH This is the trait that requires the most patience out of a fan base. I used David Ash as an example for Coach Garfield and he did a great job illustrating the difference between pasture parties and keg parties. “Well first, I like Ash a lot,” the head coach explained. “People don’t understand the difference in speed between high school and college. Not only that, but you have some pretty advanced defensive schemes to prepare for and that defensive coach on the other side of the ball is trying to fool the old man in the coaches booth as much as he is the 18 year old under center.” “In college, there are 11 bullets coming after you much faster than they were just eight or nine months ago.” “As for J.T., I think he’s way ahead of the curve for a high schooler. Our staff has done a great job with getting him to understand where the pressure is coming from and who his hot reads are, but like I said, college is a different game. I’ll tell you this though, he’s a military kid – both parents are in the military – and he prepares very diligently.” LEADERSHIP Despite the sexiness of Vince Young’s athleticism, Tom Brady’s Vitruvian Man throwing mechanics and Peyton Manning’s clairvoyance towards reading defenses stemming from coach-like preparation, the number one identifying trait of each is leadership. “J.T.’s a humble kid and he knows that he’s been blessed. Most quarterbacks lead the offense, he leads the team. Everyone pays attention to J.T. and when he speaks it’s a special thing to see the team react.” RECRUITING AND WHERE TEXAS FITS Sometimes it appears like other schools get the early jump on a blue chipper. Many Recruitocosm readers voiced this concern when it came to the Brenham duo of Malcom Brown and Tim Cole, and also Brett Wade and Isaiah Golden. This isn’t one of those times. “He’s hearing the most from Texas,” Garfield said. “He did well at a camp there and they’ve been in touch ever since. A lot of schools are just now starting to ask about him throughout the rest of the Big 12 and the Pac 12. UT was pretty much the first to evaluate him.” “I’m a big fan of the way Texas approaches recruiting. They’re very professional. Darrell Wyatt was in before Christmas, he’s our area recruiter, and he’s one of the best guys I’ve ever dealt with.” “I’ve told J.T. to look at all of his options and don’t commit until you’re 100% sure. I don’t want to be known as a coach that has kids decommitting.” “I know he likes Texas a lot.” FINAL NOTES – We mentioned Shavodrick Beaver a time or two. He’s a former Wichita Falls Rider quarterback that was highly recruited. He initially chose Michigan before switching his commitment (before Coach Garfield was head coach) to Tulsa. – Coach Garfield also had some glowing things to say about 2013 linebacker Brett Wade. On the Kennedale prospect, “We had our hands full with him. He’s really good running horizontally and vertically. Reads the flow real well and scrapes where he needs to. He’s a really good one.” I’m supposed to converse with Tyrone Swoopes’ coach Jack Wylie in the coming days. I’ll see if I can muddle the 2013 quarterback offer scenario with more attempts at clarification. Thanks for reading.