Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Looking Back at Class of 2003...Dual-Threat QB's

Full Schedule by Position

Four Star QB's

1. Robert Lane, Ole Miss - Recruited as a QB, Lane chose Ole Miss over LSU where his father, also named Robert, played QB from 1977-79. He demonstrated a proven knack for running the ball and in 2005 he started the transition to H-back. He spent the next 2 seasons playing H-back, fullback, and TE before finally settling at the TE position for the 2007. He finished his career with 803 all-purpose yards and 4TD's along with another 321 yds and 1 passing TD. He was not drafted in the 2008 NFL Draft and has not signed a free agent contract.

2. Dennis Dixon, Oregon - After a slow start to his collegiate career, Dixon started to show signs of brilliance after taking over for an injured Kellen Clemens late in 2005. After setting career bests in three consecutive games to start the 2006 season, he fizzled late and the Ducks finished the season with a 38-8 drubbing to BYU in an irrelevant bowl game. Dixon took another step in 2007 and was a leading contender for the Heisman Memorial. However, a freak accident lead to torn ligaments in his knee...and thus the subsequent end to his season. Despite his injury, he was drafted in the 5th round by the Pittsburgh Steelers of the 2008 NFL Draft. If you feel so inclined, you can check out his website for updates on his rehab work.

3. Marcus Stone, NC State - Taking over as the starting QB during the 2005 season, Stone guided the Wolfpack to a 5-1 finish including a 20-15 upset of #9 Florida St in Tallahassee. Despite the success at QB, he was moved to TE before the 2006 season. Two seasons of serviceable play (36 catches for 452 yds and 1 TD in 2007) later and it appears that he didn't pursue an NFL career.

4. Tyler Donovan, Wisconsin - After serving as a backup for 3 seasons, Donovan finally got the starting nod in 2007. A productive, though not overly impressive, season lead the Badgers to a 9-4 finish after a loss to Tennessee in the Outback Bowl. Considered at best a fringe NFL prospect, he chose to sign with the Edmonton Eskimos of the CFL earlier this month.

5. Syvelle Newton, South Carolina - Newton saw limited action at QB in 2006 after Blake Mitchell (see Part 1) was benched following a shutout loss to Georgia. He spent time at QB, RB, and WR during his college career and is one of only 4 players in NCAA history to have 600+ passing, rushing, and receiving yards in a career. He initially signed with the Montreal Alouettes but left the team after they switched him from QB to WR. He is now on injured reserve for the Georgia Force of the AFL.

6. Omarr Conner, Mississippi State - Conner spent most of his time in Starkvegas as a secondary receiving option. However, he was sometimes called upon to step in at QB when injuries depleted the depth chart. Seeing playing time from the time he stepped on campus, Conner lettered all 4 years for the Bulldogs before finishing after the 2006 season. After going undrafted in the 2007 NFL Draft, he signed with the Mississippi Mudcats of the AIFL. He no longer shows to be on their roster though and his current whereabouts are unknown to me at this time.

7. Robert Johnson, Arkansas - RoJo was the Razorbacks' starting QB for the first 7 games of the 2005 season losing the job to true frosh Casey Dick. He again started the season at QB in 2006, but the heated QB battle between he, Dick, and blue chipper Mitch Mustain (now at Southern Cal) didn't turn out in his favor and he was eventually moved to WR. Johnson was a secondary receiving option for the 2007 season with a career high of 3 catches for 71 yards and 2 TD's vs Mississippi State. Undrafted in the 2008 NFL Draft, Johnson is hopeful of signing on with a team but an opportunity has materialized at this time.

8. James Battle, TCU - After leading the Denton Ryan Raiders to 3 state championship games (and 1 state title in 02), Battle made the trek down I-35 to play for the TCU Horned Frogs. After 2 seasons as a backup QB and/or on the practice squad, Battle transferred to Stephen F. Austin in hopes of seeing the field. However, I can't find any sites that indicate that he actually played for the Lumberjacks in 06 or 07. I did find one mention of him serving as an assistant coach back at Denton Ryan in 2006 but the team website doesn't reflect him as a coach at this time.

9. Tom(my) Zbikowski, Notre Dame - Arguably the most well known player on this list (thanks to NBC and the Notre Dame media machine), Zbikowski started for 3 years at strong safety and punt returner, being named 3rd-team All American at both positions during his time as a golden domer. A decorated amateur boxer, Zbikowski made his professional debut in the summer of 2006 at Madison Square Garden, defeating Robert Bell (who entered the ring in an Ohio State jersey) by TKO in 49 seconds. Zbikowski was recently drafted by the Baltimore Ravens in the 3rd round of the 2008 NFL Draft.

10. Bernard Jackson, Colorado - Jackson's first two years (04 and 05) in Boulder resulted in minimal playing time at WR, TB, and on special teams. He took over as the team's starting QB in Week 2 of the 2006 season after James Cox was benched following a 19-10 loss to 1-AA Montana State. Named a team captain prior to 2007 spring practice, Jackson was unable to remain academically eligible and a rumored switch to WR never materialized. He showed up for the Buffs Pro Day for NFL scouts earlier this spring but has not been contacted by any NFL teams at this time. I also found a tidbit mentioning that he became a father in 2006 and that the demands on his time played a significant role in him losing his eligibility in the spring of 2007.

Other QB's of Note

15. Reggie Ball, Georgia Tech - Started at QB for 4 years at Georgia Tech without a redshirt. Missed the last game of his collegiate career after being declared academically ineligible. He moved to WR for the NFL Combine but a 4.8 40-time left scouts underwhelmed. He went to training camp with the Detroit Lions but was cut. He was picked up for the Lions' practice squad in December 2007.

31. Kevin Kolb, Houston - Kolb started for 4 years at QB for the Cougars, earning a laundry list of awards within C-USA. He was the first pick of the Philadelphia Eagles (36th overall) in the 2007 NFL Draft and is currently the #2 QB behind Donovan McNabb, to whom he is considered the heir apparent.

The Tech Factor

This might come as a shocker to many...but the Red Raiders haven't actively pursued the dual-threat (aka run-first) QB in the Mike Leach offense. They did sign top JUCO prospect Robert Johnson in 2004 but he eventually transitioned to WR.

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