Itâs been quite clear for a while now that Jerrod Heard was destined for big things on the football field.
In fact, when Heard was a seventh-grader at Harpool Middle School, Guyer head coach John Walsh said he and his staff had already pegged him as the heir apparent to Walshâs son, J.W., who was the starting quarterback at Guyer for three seasons and is now a redshirt freshman at Oklahoma State.
On Tuesday, Heard took the next step in establishing his own legacy when he committed to Texas, choosing the Longhorns over seven other prominent programs, including LSU and Ohio State, his other two finalists.
Oral commitments are non-binding. The first day a member of the Class of 2014 can sign a national letter of intent is Feb. 5, 2014.
Heard, 6-2, 195 pounds, is the stateâs No. 6 recruit in his class, according to Rivals.comâs Lone Star Recruiting Top 100. He is the top-ranked quarterback in the class.
âIt was mainly because itâs Texas,â Heard said, simply. âI really enjoyed the campus and the environment that the coaches put out there. I really appreciated how much the coaches cared about me and my family, too. Thatâs a big plus.â
Another factor that played into Heardâs decision was the offense the Longhorns run under second-year co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Bryan Harsin, who came to Texas after spending 10 seasons at Boise State.
âTheir read keys are just like ours [at Guyer],â Heard said. âThey do a lot of zone-read and they also have a great passing game. We basically use everything just like them â" spread to zone-read to pro-style. They use it all, and so do we.â
The fact that Heard, 16, is committing before playing a game during his junior season would normally be cause for alarm, Walsh said. But with the elite status of the Texas program, Walsh said itâs a little bit different.
âIt amazes me how quick things go nowadays,â Walsh said. âItâs the culture weâre in as far as recruiting goes in college football and itâs the culture we have to live in. Itâs such an established program, and with [head coach Mack] Brown being such an established head coach, it makes it easier. If he was committing somewhere that I wasnât real familiar with, Iâd probably discourage it, but the fact heâs going to Texas and with coach Brown it makes it more comfortable for his family and for me.â
Heard burst onto the scene in 2011 when he led Guyer to the area round of the Class 5A Division II playoffs and a thrilling overtime win in the bi-district round against Hebron.
Heard completed 60 percent of his passes for 2,300 yards to go with 27 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He also proved to be a legitimate dual-threat quarterback who has been clocked at a 4.5-second 40-yard dash, rushing for 717 yards and another five scores.
Walsh said Heard has proven he can do anything a quarterback is asked to do, which has put him in line to be the next big quarterback for Guyer with two more years of high school football still in his future.
âI think a lot of things come natural to him,â Walsh said. âThatâs why he was so easy to recognize in middle school as a potential future Division I quarterback. Whether itâs running or throwing or just understanding the game, itâs natural for him. It just comes really easy.â
Heard follows a long line of quarterbacks coached by Walsh and his quarterbacks coach, Lee Vallejo, who went on to be quarterbacks at the Football Bowl Subdivision level.
Previously, the duo has coached quarterbacks who went to programs such as Miami and Texas A&M, as well as Jarrett Lee (LSU) and most recently J.W. Walsh.
âIf you watch football, or know about football, you know that if youâve got a good quarterback then youâre probably gonna win a lot of ballgames,â Walsh said. âIâve been fortunate to be around lots of Division I quarterbacks in my coaching career.â
Heard said he is fortunate to be the next in line with the keys to an explosive offense on a state-championship contender. If his sophomore season was any indication, the Guyer offense could be in for even bigger things in 2012.
âTheyâre great coaches,â Heard said of Walsh and Vallejo. âThey have coached a lot of Division I athletes, so thatâs a plus. They also know the recruiting game so they really talked to me. Theyâre great mentors for me. Theyâre just great people.â
Whatâs next for Heard now that he has his commitment out of the way? Walsh said the decision should come as a relief, but it wonât add any undue pressure, at least not from within the Guyer program.
âI think Jerrod has expected this since he was an eighth-grader living through J.W.âs recruiting process,â Walsh said. âI donât think it will affect him. I think when you commit it takes a lot of that busy time away. A lot of coaches will back off now. I think it will be a relief for him, and weâll do a good job with him as far as not adding any undue pressure. The only pressure he has right now is performing for the Guyer Wildcats, and heâll keep that in perspective.â
And thereâs only one goal surrounding his Guyer team, Heard said.
âNow Iâm just focused on what I have to do at Guyer, which is get a state ring,â Heard said. âItâs not really added pressure. I just look at it [committing to Texas] as motivation.â
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