Elite QBs: Inside the Arizona Arms Race

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elite arizona quarterbacks

Over the last few years, Arizona has become fertile ground for producing elite quarterbacks. This season in the Division 1 college ranks there are five former valley stars starting at their respective programs.

  • Ryan Finley (Paradise Valley) is at North Carolina State
  • Kyle Allen (Desert Mountain) is leading Houston
  • Brian Lewerke (Pinnacle) is running the show at Michigan State
  • Tyler Rogers (Liberty) is putting up big numbers at New Mexico State.
  • Darrell Garretson (Chandler) is “healthy and happy” at Oregon State

This year’s crop of high school quarterbacks is looking to raise the bar above those that came before them. “I don’t think I have ever seen this many top notch quarterbacks in the same class ever.” said Desert Vista head coach Dan Hinds. Basha head coach Rich Wellbrock adds. “We were at a passing tournament, it was probably the most elite quarterback passing tournament I had ever been involved with.”

The quarterback position in Arizona has become an arms race. This year’s collection of QB’s is impressive. (In case you missed it, Jeremy Crabtree discussed the Arizona talent explosion on the Over The Middle podcast. Click here to listen.)

“I don’t think I have ever seen this many top notch quarterbacks in the same class ever.”

Tyler Shough

Hamilton senior Tyler Shough (6’5” 195 lbs) this past summer competed at the Elite 11 Finals at Nike’s The Opening. Shough is headed to Oregon, spurning offers from Alabama, Michigan, Florida State, and Georgia. Shough actually committed to North Carolina during the summer, and then after taking a visit to Oregon last week, had a change of heart.

Tyler, who carries a 4.4 grade point average in the classroom, said he liked the academic programs at Oregon and the Nike connections that can be made in his post football career. Shough also has some family connections in Oregon as well. His mother is an Oregon native, and his grandfather was part of the construction crew that built Autzen Stadium where the Ducks play.

Other top signal callers include, Gilbert senior Jack Plummer (6’5” 212 lbs) is committed to Purdue. Saguaro senior Max Massingale (6’0” 185 lbs) is heading to Air Force. Pinnacle junior Spencer Rattler (6’2” 185 lbs), the number 1 ranked dual threat qb in the country for the class of 2019, has committed to Oklahoma.

Spencer Rattler

“Oklahoma was my fifth offer and once I met Lincoln Riley (OU’s head coach), I had a feeling this is the guy that I would want my coach to be like. We just developed a great relationship. When I went up there last summer to visit, I knew it was the right place so I pulled the trigger.” Rattler said.

Pinnacle head coach Dana Zupke is just happy to have his heralded signal caller back for one more season. “A lot of times I am literally just in awe because I know I am watching somebody special. With Brian Lewerke (former Pinnacle star) at Michigan State, I saw the same thing. They have that special sauce. They have that ‘it factor’. That ability to extend plays, to make something happen when things aren’t going right.”

Jacob Conover

Chandler junior Jacob Conover (6’1” 195 lbs) was named to the Max Preps pre-season All American junior second team. Conover has numerous offers including Arizona, BYU, and Alabama. “It was pretty surreal. Nick Saban (Alabama’s head coach) is a really cool dude. He’s down to earth, great guy, and the hype around Alabama is real. Everything there is top notch. It was a cool experience.”

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Brock Purdy

Perry senior Brock Purdy (6’1” 197 lbs), who was named All Arizona 1st team last year has offers from UNLV, New Mexico State, and Northern Arizona. Purdy is being patient, still looking for an offer from a power five conference school. “I can spin the ball. I can run with my feet. I know wherever I land, the college is going to be really interested in me and trusting in me. So it will be a good situation.” Perry head coach Preston Jones adds. “Brock Purdy is one in a million. I don’t know if I will ever coach a kid like him again. He has that “it” value. He has those intangibles you just don’t come across very often. He takes teams and brings them up to another level.”

Jack Miller

Chaparral sophomore Jack Miller moved up three levels this year, after playing last season at Scottsdale Christian Academy. As a freshman at S.C.A., Miller threw for 3,653 yards and 53 td’s. The 6’4” 215 pound sophomore already has 10 offers, including UCLA and Ohio State.

“I got to talk to Urban Meyer (Ohio State’s head coach) and all of the coaches. They liked me and I liked them a lot. So I’m excited to see where that goes. I feel like I am a pocket passer with the ability to escape when I need to, and the ability to run with the ball when I need to.” Miller said. Chaparral head coach Thomas Lewis adds. “It doesn’t hurt that he has a canon of an arm, being able to throw the ball 60, 70 yards down the field in the air helps a lot. Now with some of the recognition we are getting for the quarterbacks that are here, it definitely puts Arizona on the map as far as a recruiting bed moving forward.”

So why the recent boom?

So what is the reason behind the recent boom at the quarterback position. “It’s crazy. I don’t know if it’s the weather and the year round throwing.” said Higley head coach Eddie Zubey. Saguaro head coach Jason Mohns adds. “There is really good coaching at the schools themselves, and then there are a lot of guys that have private quarterback coaches that have been around, been established, and do a great job all throughout the valley.”

When teams have elite quarterbacks, coaches suddenly become a lot smarter. “It is night and day when those guys are out there running the show for you. When those guys can make those completions, and make those reads, and you trust them, it opens up your play calling as well.” Zubey says. Mesquite head coach Chad DeGrenier adds. “That is a game changer when you have a guy. If you don’t have a quarterback, you struggle at every level. All the way to the NFL (laughs).”