Though I’ll be counseling caution and adopting a wait-and-see attitude for 90% of our 2014 commitments, I’m unreasonable about Jerrod Heard. Heard is going to be the Longhorn’s 2014 QB commit. And I want to give you some idea of what that means.
Jerrod Heard is the truth. At least some junior year version. Or, if not, a smudging of facts I can live with. He looks to be the rarest of QB prospects: the high floor, high ceiling combo. It’s madness to suggest that about a player with two high school seasons left, much less a QB, but there are elements to Heard’s game so intriguing, so impressive for his age, it’s hard not to put it out there.
As a sophomore at Denton Guyer, Heard replaced J.W. Walsh (OSU signee, son of head coach John Walsh) in Guyer’s spread offense and kicked ass. He went 223-130-2286 yards-28 TDs-10 INTs while running 136 times for 650 yards and 5 TDs. It’s impressive when a sophomore QB racks up a 176.9 passing efficiency rating (despite a high interception rate – you risk-taking kids!) and almost 3,000 total yards from scrimmage, but the film tells the real tale. Look at that tape. If Heard was a 2012 or 2013 prospect, he’d still be a solid FBS take.
When you combine Heard’s physical attributes with his relative level of sophistication, he’s the QB Bryan Harsin would design on Mack Brown’s Commodore 64, and wish him to life like the nerds designing Kelly LeBrock in Weird Science. Heard has facets to his game linked to successful QB play at the highest levels of football.
Heard keeps a great base to constantly reset in the pocket – even while that pocket deteriorates – his eyes are downfield, and he doesn’t blindly bail despite 1). being a sophomore and 2). being a very solid runner. That’s diamond rare. Check the clips at 0:50, 1:50, 3:45, 4:50, 7:23 if you want to see a QB who knows when scoot and when to hang in, shuffle, reset, throw accurately. Where are his eyes the entire time? Where’s the ball held? Shoulders squared, feet good. He’s in a good throwing position until he make his mind up to go.
And he throws an accurate ball with adequate arm strength. More than just throwing a good ball, he’s throwing the appropriate ball. When the receiver clearly has a step, he puts a little more air under it to make the catch that much easier. And you seem him a add a little zip when it goes outside the hash. QBs as disparate as VY and Applewhite had that same feel for the deep ball and it can’t really be taught. Some deep balls are just nice.
Guyer does plenty formationally and Heard is already becoming a good ball handler with a feel for the play action game. I smiled watching the tape because a couple of his play action throws were straight out of the Longhorn play book. And he looked more comfortable throwing them than the 2011 starters. A 17.6 yards per completion average suggests what the film confirms – Guyer is pushing the ball down the field, from different formations. No one-read spread robot here.
Heard is a good, instinctive runner with quickness and speed and the dual threat designation is technically accurate, but the assumptive baggage it brings mislabels him. He’s a slick passer with coaching clinic mechanics and poise. The fact that he can credibly run zone read, stick a 25 yard dagger into a defense on a QB draw, threaten containment, or move the sticks to convert 3rd and 8 outside of the script is a massive value-add.
Finally, Heard has a ton of physical upside still untapped. 6-2, 185, still growing, with a long, athletic basketball frame (he was 6th man on the Guyer varsity hoops team as a freshman). Yet he possesses a ton of functional strength and flexibility, particularly in his ankles and hips.
How do I know that? Because I found this:
That’s a 285 pound clean for a skinny kid. If you notice that he didn’t just rely on raw power but rather perfect form, great flexibility, and veteran savvy to complete the movement, yep – that’s kind of the point. That’s also how he quarterbacks.
A lot still needs to happen for Heard to grow into a good college QB, but this is a player I’ll follow with great interest.