How Did Texas Become the Quarterback Capital for the NFL?

Quarterbacks from the state of Texas get plenty of attention in the NFL.

Like when Drew Brees of the Saints and Nick Foles of the Eagles, each from Austin Westlake, made history in January by becoming the first Super Bowl MVPs from the same high school to oppose each other in an NFL playoff game.

Or when Brees and Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes from Whitehouse received all 50 votes cast for the 2018 NFL MVP award for the regular season. Mahomes won 41-9.

Or on Dec. 15, when the Arizona Cardinals will host the Cleveland Browns. Barring injuries, the opposing quarterbacks will be Texans Baker Mayfield from Lake Travis and Kyler Murray from Allen. They were the last two Heisman Trophy winners while playing for Oklahoma.

But when you see a list of NFL quarterbacks, the dominating presence of Texans rises above a passing interest. Entering training camps this season, 18 NFL quarterbacks were from Texas. California was second with eight.

Texas also leads with 10 NFL starting quarterbacks. California is second with seven. Georgia, Louisiana and Ohio are next with two each.

In addition to Texas claiming the only two Super Bowl MVPs from the same high school and the reigning NFL MVP, Matthew Stafford from Dallas Highland Park is the fastest NFL quarterback to reach 3,000 completions (125 games) and 30,000 passing yards (109 games).

In 2012, the Colts drafted quarterback Andrew Luck from Houston Stratford as the No. 1 overall pick. He set an NFL rookie record with 4,183 yards passing.

“The best athletes in Texas used to want to play running back. Now with the development of the passing game, they want to play quarterback,” said Highland Park coach Randy Allen, who won a state championship with Stafford in 2005.

“Spread offenses give young quarterbacks the opportunity to understand defensive coverages and find open receivers. That puts Texas quarterbacks ahead of the learning curve going into college. I know out-of-state college coaches come to Texas specifically to look for quarterbacks.”

Hank Carter, head coach at Lake Travis, said Texas high school quarterbacks are college-ready because they’re trained like college quarterbacks.

“We have a great relationship with college coaches, and they’ll let us come visit them on their campuses. We get them on the chalkboard and talk about schemes and drills, so our training of quarterbacks has a lot of the same concepts as the colleges,” Carter said.

The 18 NFL quarterbacks have elevated the dominance of Texas quarterbacks from a passing interest to a bigger question: How did Texas become the hub for producing NFL quarterbacks?

There’s not one answer.

Football is life in Texas

Population is a popular answer. Texas has the second-highest population of any state at 29 million and no less than 1,400 football-playing high schools, improving its chances of producing more NFL players.

But population alone doesn’t explain Texas having more NFL quarterbacks than California, the most-populated state at 39.7 million.

The emphasis placed on football in Texas high schools is another popular answer, and deserves a lot of credit. Texas high schools — with help from local booster clubs and fans who want winning programs — pour financial resources into football, including facilities, equipment and money to pay for the best coaches.

“ … Not to say anything bad about coaches anywhere else, but when you’re a coach in Texas, you’re a coach. You might teach some in the school, but you don’t go work at Home Depot or at the bank. You’re a coach,” Redskins quarterback Case Keenum told ESPN in 2018.

With its emphasis on football, Texas has always been a leader in producing high school players ready to excel at the next levels. When football teams were built around running backs through the 1990s, Texas produced Doak Walker, Earl Campbell, Eric Dickerson, LaDainian Tomlinson, Thurman Thomas and Billy Sims — to name a few.

As passing became emphasized, Texas high schools began producing more quarterbacks. But how did high school football in Texas, after being played conservatively for decades, transform from 40 passes a season to 40 passes a game?

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SOURCE: USA Today, Mike Lee