LSU made national news over the weekend by offering and receiving a commitment from Zadock Dinkelmann
Dinkelmann, a 6-foot-4, 190-pound phenom, will be a freshman at Somerset (Texas)
Colleges offering eighth-grade quarterbacks is still rare, but it's not completely unprecedented.
In 1998, eighth-grade quarterback Chris Leak made national news when he committed to Wake Forest, where his older brother C.J. signed and began his career before transferring to Tennessee.
Leak thrived at Independence (Charlotte, N.C.)
, becoming one of high school football's all-time most decorated quarterbacks and winning a national championship. Only it was at Florida where he ultimately signed, not Wake Forest.Class of 2015
Several years later in 2010, the bar was set even younger, as Delaware prodigy David Sills
committed to USC as a seventh-grader.
Sills practiced his craft under the tutelage of quarterback guru Steve Clarkson, who said
Sills "probably will be the most celebrated high school recruit in history."
He quickly became the face of early recruiting and backed up the hype by tossing for 1,355 yards and nine touchdowns as an eight-grader on varsity.
As a freshman, he followed up with a 2,340-yard campaign. Before his sophomore season, he left Red Lion Christian Academy to attend Eastern Christian Academy, a startup program that struggled to find opponents. He registered stats in just two games, throwing nine touchdowns.
While he remained committed to USC, other quarterbacks in a loaded 2015 recruiting class emerged, including Josh Rosen
, the No. 4 recruit in the 247Composite
, and Ricky Town
, the No. 6-ranked recruit
, who committed to USC last month.
Though Sills is still a formidable recruit attracting interest from other top level programs like Michigan and Clemson, he has not yet proven to be the clear-cut best signal-caller in 2015. He is currently the No. 21-ranked pro-style quarterback in the 247Composite
Sills will have an opportunity to assert himself among the ranks of Rosen and Town early on this fall, as Eastern Christian Academy is expected to play three of its first four game against powerful Texas teams.Class of 2016
The trend continued in the class of 2016, as Bergen Catholic (Oradell, N.J.)
quarterback Jarrett Guarantano
received an offer from Rutgers the summer before entering ninth grade.
There was some family history linking to the Scarlet Knights. His father, James, was a star receiver there.
As a freshman Guarantano played sparingly, attempting a mere eight passes. Last fall, a tenth-grade Guarantano took more reps, amassing 449 yards and two touchdowns.
This offseason, Clemson and Virginia have followed Rutgers' lead by extending an offer to Guarantano, who should take the reins as Bergen Catholic's primary signal-caller.Class of 2017
The recruiting timeline accelerated further with the class of 2017, and the fresh-faced quarterbacks have responded with mixed success so far.Tate Martell
, another Steve Clarkson product, committed to Washington (and then-head coach Steve Sarkisian) the summer before his eighth-grade season
The 5-foot-11, 180-pound Martell started as a freshman for Poway but may not even have been the most impressive freshman on his team. Receiver Tyjon Lindsey
earned MaxPreps Freshman All-American honors
and Jake Bentley
, classmates of Martell, received offers during the summer leading into their freshman seasons from Syracuse and Auburn, respectively.
Hill played behind Kai Locksley
at Gilman (Baltimore)
, but managed to throw for 205 yards and two scores. Bentley played behind brother Shuler
at Byrnes (Duncan, S.C.)
and did not record a pass attempt.Lindell Stone
created a stir when he received an offer from UCLA last summer. Whether he would attend Highland Park (Dallas)
, alma mater of Matthew Stafford, or Carroll (Southlake, Texas)
, alma mater of Greg McElroy, Kenny Hill and others, became the subject of intense speculation around the Dallas area.
Ultimately Stone decided to enroll at Woodberry Forest (Va.)
, where he threw for 498 yards and and five touchdowns for one of Virginia's top private school programs.Class of 2018
Six months before Zadock Dinkelmann committed to LSU, Tyler DeSue became the first class of 2018 quarterback to be issued a scholarship, attracting an offer from Virginia.
Will Dinkelmann, DeSue and the others continue to lead their class and achieve major success in college like Chris Leak? Or will they eventually be surpassed by quarterbacks yet to make it onto the national radar?
Plenty of time remains before we find out. In the mean time, we'll soon have quarterback prodigies from the classes of 2019 and 2020 toting college offers as they ponder where to attend high school.