By Brad Hubbard @bradhubbard
# 22 and # 34. That is what QB’s Johnny Manziel and Marcus Mariota were ranked by Scout.com in 2011 when they signed with Texas A&M and Oregon respectively Manziel went on to win the 2012 Heisman Trophy as the Nation’s best player and Mariota led Oregon to a 12-1 record and a BCS Bowl berth. They are considered by many to be two of the best QB’s in college football and two top contenders for the Heisman Trophy next year.
The Top 5 QB’s in the 2011 class were pretty good in their own right.
#1 Jeff Driskel – Florida #2 Braxton Miller – Ohio St #3 Brett Hundley – UCLA #4 Kiehl Frazier – Auburn #5 JW Walsh – Oklahoma State
Everyone in the Top 5 has started games for their respective schools and all but one has played very well (Frazier being the lone exception). Jeff Driskel began to show his hype as led Florida to a BCS Bowl berth (12-0 Ohio St was ineligible for a bowl) and beat Manziel’s Texas A&M Aggies early in the season yet he wasn’t nearly as electrifying or dominate as Manziel or Mariota.
The truth is the rankings really don’t mean a whole lot. Maziel and Mariota are really good because A) they’re really good players B) in an offenses suited to their abilities and C) coached really well. Driskel is working with his 2nd offensive coordinator in as many seasons and wasn’t the clear cut #1 QB on the team at the start of the year unlike Manziel and Mariota. What does that mean? It means Manziel and Mariota got more practice time with the 1st team offense then Driskel did during the fall camp. More coaching + more reps = better performance.
Malcom Gladwell wrote an amazing book called ‘The Outliers’ where he talked about things like the’10,000 hour rule’. Simplified, the more practice & coaching you get from an early age leads to better performance. Out of the 7 QB’s were talking about look who has done really well early in their career (Manziel, Mariota, and Miller) those who have done ok (Driskel, Hundley, Walsh) and the one who has done poorly (Frazier). The first group was the #1 QB on their team going into fall camp this past season. The other two groups had to battle it out in fall camp and during the season before they were named starters.
In the end it’s not the ranking but the situation. If a player gets the coaching and the reps in practice early then they have a tendency to turn out better than someone who hasn’t. The ranking out of high school means, in all reality, little to nothing. The situation, coaching and the practice means everything.