Midway’s Ben Hicks, Temple’s Chad President and Stephenville’s Jarrett Stidham graduated from high school in December to get a jump on their college football careers this spring.
But all three quarterbacks took detours to get to where they are today.
Hicks committed to SMU after switching from Houston when head coach Tony Levine was fired in early December. Stidham de-committed from Texas Tech and signed with Baylor. After Stidham made his switch, President changed his commitment from Baylor to Tulsa.
December was a revolving door for all three players, but they are now at places where they believe they can enjoy productive college careers. All three are ranked among the top quarterbacks in the state in the 2015 class.
Hicks is excited to get on board with new SMU coach Chad Morris who took the job in early December after four years as Clemson’s offensive coordinator. Morris previously led Austin Lake Travis to Class 4A Division I state championships in 2008-09 and has deep Texas recruiting ties.
“He’s a great guy and has done great things wherever he’s gone,” Hicks said. “I’m the only midterm guy they brought in. I’ve got great support from my family and the coaches and they expect me to do big things. I’m just going to take it day by day and show them I belong.”
After making the Midway varsity as a sophomore, Hicks moved into the starting quarterback role as a junior in 2013 and passed for 3,741 yards and 36 touchdowns.
Midway coach Terry Gambill wasn’t surprised Hicks had such a big year in his first season as the starting quarterback.
“His work ethic is second to none whether it’s in the weight room or watching more video than any quarterback I’ve ever seen,” Gambill said. “He’s like a coach because he really puts in the time. He’s going to do everything he can to be successful.”
Following his outstanding junior year, Hicks qualified for the national Elite 11 quarterbacks camp last summer in Beaverton, Ore. Only 18 high school quarterbacks made the national camp, and Hicks was one of three from Texas as he joined Stidham and Allen’s Kyler Murray.
“I went to regional competition in Chicago and Dallas, and they invited me after I went to Columbus (Ohio),” Hicks said. “”Each and every day I proved myself until someone finally took notice. But that’s the way it’s been my whole career. I’ve been playing with a chip on my shoulder.”
Hicks followed his junior year with a superb senior season as he passed for 3,510 yards and 28 touchdowns while rushing for nine scores. Midway offensive coordinator Derek Alford saw Hicks become a stronger and more well rounded quarterback.
“Whatever you showed him he’s going to master it,” Alford said. “He’s tough mentally and you can coach him hard. He’s a big, strong kid physically and got a lot stronger. As a junior, he decided that what he wanted to be the best quarterback he could and devoted himself year-round and went to work.”
Hicks believes he’ll make a quick transition to Morris’ offensive scheme at SMU because it’s similar to Midway’s style.
“We run almost the exact offense as we have at Midway,” Hicks said. “Coach Morris is offensive minded. He used this offense at Clemson and Lake Travis, and I’ll fit in. Coming into this spring, everyone has an open shot at quarterback. I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t think I’d have a chance to start.”
Besides Murray, Stidham is the highest rated quarterback in Texas in the 2015 class. He had committed to Texas Tech before he re-opened his recruitment in December and chose Baylor.
Stidham is a versatile quarterback who passed for 2,875 yards and 35 touchdowns while rushing for 986 yards and 16 scores as a senior at Stephenville.
With Baylor senior quarterback Bryce Petty headed to the NFL, Stidham hopes to compete for the starting job this spring. However, Baylor coach Art Briles said fourth-year junior Seth Russell will have the edge as spring drills begin Feb. 23.
Briles likes the potential and competitive nature the 6-3, 190-pound Stidham brings to the table.
“He probably throws the ball as well as anyone I’ve been around coming out of high school in a long, long time,” Briles said. “He has a great throwing motion, and spins the ball extremely well. I think he’s a great competitor, and that’s the thing I’ve really been impressed with. I like the way he burns, he burns hot and wants to be great. He’s got a very determined attitude.”
Stidham announced his decision to go to Baylor on Dec. 19, and President switched to Tulsa the following week. President had developed a close relationship with former Baylor offensive coordinator Philip Montgomery during the recruiting process before he became Tulsa’s head coach in December.
Landing a four-star quarterback was a coup for Montgomery just weeks after he accepted his first heading coaching job.
“Chad is an explosive and elusive offensive player, a dual threat quarterback who runs and throws well,” Montgomery said. “He can make things happen when things start to break down. He does great things with his feet and has really come along throwing the football. Chad has been in an offense similar to what we’ll run here, so he understands the ins and outs of the offense.”
Temple coach Mike Spradlin believes President is well prepared for college football after leading the Wildcats to the Class 5A Division I state championship game where they lost to Aledo.
President completed 146 of 246 passes for 2,391 yards and 23 touchdowns while rushing for 878 yards and six scores. It was quite a comeback senior year for President after he tore his ACL early in his junior season.
“He came back in the spring and did a great job,” Spradlin said. “He knows what he’s doing and is savvy. He throws a great deep ball and understand offenses. He can move and keeps plays alive. We scored a lot of touchdowns on broken plays.”
Spradlin knows both Briles and Montgomery well since he coached with them at the University of Houston as co-offensive line coach from 2003-05. Spradlin goes back even further with Briles since they were teammates at the University of Houston in the 1970s.
As Temple’s coach, Spradlin used a lot of the same offensive schemes that Briles and Montgomery have employed at Baylor.
“We philosophically believe in a lot of the same things and we do a lot of that kind of stuff, and it’s been good to us,” Spradlin said. “Chad will have a huge advantage going to Tulsa.”