Quarterback long has been the glamour position in high school football. Now, it has become the sport’s most lethal weapon.
Led by Gainesville’s Deshaun Watson, who set the state record for career passing yards as a junior, four Georgia quarterbacks are on The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s annual Super 11 team, a recognition of the state’s best high school players. That’s the most quarterbacks in 15 years.
Watson is joined by Malkom Parrish of Brooks County, Donquell Green of Burke County and Adam Choice of Thomas County Central. Each of the four rushed for more than 950 yards last season.
“It’s a sign of the times,’’ Gainesville coach Bruce Miller said. “I just got through watching “SportsCenter,” and there’s Robert Griffin, Michael Vick and Russell Wilson in the pros. You’re seeing coaches look for that type of quarterback.’’
Watson, who committed to Clemson, is the only player among the four who is projected to play quarterback in college.
Choice is an option quarterback who expects to play running back at Clemson. But the other two — Parrish and Green — are effective passers in high school, especially Parrish, who committed to Georgia, probably to play cornerback. Parrish passed for more than 3,000 yards in 2012.
Brooks County coach Maurice Freeman said Parrish would have played running back 30 years ago.
“Back in the day, the most important guys on the team was the tailback,’’ Freeman said. “But at running back, the defense doesn’t drop back in coverage. They’re coming for you. At quarterback, they’ve got to drop back and find receivers. It opens up running lanes. The quarterback can make more plays.’’
Running quarterbacks are nothing new, but their passing skills are better than ever, said Ware County coach Ed Dudley, whose team was shredded by Watson and Gainesville in the Class AAAAA championship game last season. Dudley credits passing camps and seven-on-seven summer leagues for sharpening the skills of passers and receivers.
Against Ware County, Watson was 27-of-36 passing for 317 yards and five touchdowns in a 49-13 victory. Ware had allowed 8.6 points per game.
“Watson gets the ball off so quickly that you just about can’t get pressure on him, even if he didn’t have a line in front of him,’’ Dudley said. “If you’re not getting sacks or hurries, there’s not much you can do about it because he’s so accurate.’’
Watson also managed to rush for 85 yards against Ware County. He had more than 1,400 yards rushing on the season. There were 10 Georgia quarterbacks who passed for more than 1,500 yards and ran for more than 750 last year, two that won state titles.
“Sometimes the best thing that happens to us is when a play breaks down and Deshaun takes off,’’ Miller said. “It’s hard to scheme for that. You can put a spy on him, but hopefully Deshaun is a little faster and maneuvers better than a linebacker. It just gives defenses a different problem that they didn’t encounter 20 years ago.’’