There may never be another quarterback at Lassiter High like Hutson Mason, who shattered several of the state’s passing records last year which earned him a scholarship at UGA.
Then again, there may have been a future record-breaking quarterback sitting right behind Mason all along.
Heralded sophomore Eddie Printz Jr. will make his first start for the Trojans in Saturday’s Corky Kell Classic at the Georgia Dome.
The 6-foot-3, 200-pound Printz already has a recruiting profile on Rivals.com, which is rare for a prospect who has yet to start a high school game. Already receiving mail from Clemson, Georgia, Alabama, Auburn and South Carolina, Printz has been generating chatter on college football message boards since middle school.
One opposing coach thinks the advance hype may well be deserved.
“[Printz] is really special. I think talent-wise, he is going to be better than Hutson Mason,” said Colquitt County coach Rush Propst, who “fell in love” with Printz after watching Lassiter’s quarterbacks go through warmups before last year’s Class AAAAA quarterfinals.
“I told [former Lassiter coach] Chip Lindsey, ‘That is going to be your best quarterback right there.’ And he agreed,” said Propst, who got another look at Printz when the two teams scrimmaged last week. “He’s a tall and good-looking kid with a great arm.”
Mason was The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Class AAAAA Player of the Year in 2009 after setting state single-season records for passing yards (4,560) and touchdown passes (54) at the Cobb County school. Printz took it all in from the sidelines as the Trojans’ No. 2 quarterback, appearing seven games in mop-up duty.
“Hutson was great at everything,” Printz said. “Those are some big shoes to fill. He has helped me every way he could. He has given me a lot of tips. Since he left for college, I talk to him once per week on Facebook. I’m really appreciative with everything he has going on.”
Lassiter’s new coach, Jep Irwin, knows the comparisons between Mason and Printz are inevitable. Irwin, formerly an offensive coordinator at Pelham (Ala.) High, was hired to replace Lindsey, who took a college assistant job at Troy.
“If you’re comparing Eddie as a sophomore to Hutson’s as a junior, which probably isn’t fair, Hutson was more of a mobile playmaker, which is something Eddie has to work on,” Irwin said. “Eddie is more of a traditional pocket passer. He stands very tall in the pocket and throws a very accurate ball.
“Hutson was probably a little bit more elusive when running. Eddie’s arm is probably a touch stronger, but not so much where it really makes a difference.”
Printz may never get the chance to break Mason’s records because Lassiter’s offense has been tweaked under the new coach. The Trojans will run the same spread formation but with a more of an emphasis on the run, adapting to the team’s personnel this year.
“My thing is we want to throw the ball when want to and we have to able to run the ball when we have to,” Irwin said. “The basic philosophy of the spread offense is the same with me. I think the average Lassiter fan will hopefully see some early on of what we did last year, the exciting, fast-break offense. But we’ve got a long ways to go with so many young players.”
North Gwinnett, Lassiter’s opponent in the season-opener, also employs the spread. Joked North Gwinnett coach Bob Sphire, “It’s going to be a fast-paced game. … You better not get a Coke until halftime.”
Propst predicts good fortunes for Lassiter, but not instantly.
“Last year they were a seasoned ball club,” he said. “They are not as good as last year. They are going to go through growing pains because of the coaching transition and they are so young. They will have lots of ups and downs this year, but I think you’ll see Lassiter come back in 2011 and 2012.”