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August 19, 2013With Michael Brewer presumably still unavailable as fall camp wears on, the odds go up by the day Davis Webb or Baker Mayfield will be the starting quarterback for the SMU game.
As we get our heads around the Red Raiders possibly starting a true freshman quarterback in two of three possible situations, Chris Level and Brian Hanni caught up with Webb and Mayfield's high school head coaches on "Tech Talk" on Lubbock's Double T 104.3 FM.
"Baker was a kid who was out here the entire time I was," Mayfield's Lake Travis coach Hank Carter told Level and Hanni. "So I saw him as an eighth grader and as an incoming freshman. The way we always described it was if that guy were ever to grow he'd be an excellent football player someday. Eventually he did."
"I've known Davis since he was in diapers," former Keller (Texas) and current Denton (Texas) head coach Kevin Atkinson told Level and Hanni on Webb's behalf. "His dad and I worked together at Colleyville (Texas) Heritage and one day I needed an offensive coordinator and Matt was coaching baseball at Waxahachie (Texas). That was right when Davis was entering seventh grade. I called (Matt Webb) and he jumped at the opportunity and probably walked away from a state championship at Waxahachie."
Neither quarterback was assumed a future blue chip.
Even Matt Webb once said Davis Webb was not always a standout football player.
"Davis hit it running in seventh grade," Atkinson said. "Of course, he was a little underdeveloped at the time, but he had a unique passion. By the time he got to be a freshman in high school, he was probably one of the most driven young men I've ever been around."
Mayfield, then a junior at Lake Travis, got passed up by senior Colin Legasse who went on to sign with SMU as an athlete.
Just a few plays into the season-opener against archrival Austin Westlake at Darrell K. Royal Stadium, however, Legasse was injured and Mayfield didn't look back. Mayfield assumed the starting role and guided the Cavaliers to a fifth-consecutive state championship in 2011.
"This is not a situation he's foreign to," Carter said. "I think he kind of likes playing the underdog role, too. He kind of thrives on it."
Lake Travis' head coach seems to have some regret about starting Mayfield immediately in the 2011 season. Legasse narrowly won the quarterback competition against Mayfield, but he had played multiple positions for the Cavs in the previous years.
"We probably sold him a little short as a junior as far as what he could do," Carter said. "We had a kid that was a little more athletic who is now playing at SMU that was more of just an athlete. We started that other kid and in that fourth play of the first game of Baker's junior season the other kid hurt his shoulder and had to come out. Baker just went after them running and throwing the ball."
Both players were well known by the summer of their senior years, but they weren't on the top of Tech's board.
Matt Webb took a coaching job at Prosper (Texas) High School and that allowed for Davis Webb to be surrounded by more talent.
But Davis had already started to emerge. He was invited to Trent Dilfer's Elite 11 camp based on raw skills and had committed to Tech after guys like Cody Thomas, Tyrone Swoopes and J.T. Barrett elected to go elsewhere.
The Red Raiders ran into good fortune as Davis Webb enrolled early and immediately pushed Brewer who is universally regarded as a quality player.
Mayfield, meanwhile, remained most programs' second option. A deep baseball run at Lake Travis hindered his ability to take spring visits in 2012 and he came away with just three offers from Washington State, Rice and Florida Atlantic.
Interestingly the new Tech coaching staff liked Mayfield enough to recruit him as a preferred walk-on. Eric Morris helped try to recruit Mayfield to Washington state and Kliff Kingsbury liked him enough to take a second quarterback in the 2013 class.
Mayfield took the Red Raiders up on their proposition. Walk-on. Pay to play until a scholarship opens up.
"North Carolina was talking to him a bunch, Clemson, people like that," Carter said. "But Baker ended up not taking visits because baseball took so long. Just kind of the timing and there were a lot of quarterbacks in that class. He had his sights set on a couple of programs he wanted to be a part of, but when the offers didn't come he thought Tech was the place for him.
"He felt he could come on and loved the fact the offenses were very similar. We run a lot of what the same stuff Tech runs and so it just felt like it was going to be a great fit."
Now it's Mayfield pushing Davis Webb.
The Lake Travis quarterback duel between Garrett Gilbert and an understudy could happen even without Brewer. There will be six former Cavs on the turf in the SMU-Tech game regardless of positional outcomes and three of them are quarterbacks.
Davis Webb has the longest consecutive tenure of experience though. He has a spring under his belt as well as two full weeks of fall camp. Brewer has hardly any 2013 fall camp experience and Mayfield has two weeks of organized experience period.
"Davis is a unique individual," Atkinson said. "He's the most unique quarterback I've been around, and I've been around some good ones in the last 22 years. He's just a driven kid and he has the tenacity, the work ethic, the comradery with his teammates, the leadership. He has all the things you need in your toolbox to be productive."
Atkinson also said Davis Webb made dramatic improvements in the weight room. He came to Tech at 6-foot-4 and 195 pounds. Webb told his former head coach he's at 215 pounds now.
"He's worked just as hard in the weight room and just as hard on his speed," Atkinson said. "I think as he keeps growing and filling out I think that's going to be a huge upside for him."
So what can we take away from all of this?
For starters, two players from solid football programs have their former coaches in their corners. Those are big endorsements.
This isn't an ideal situation for the Red Raiders. The coaches in Lubbock would want to choose between all of their quarterbacks, but if your hand is forced to start a true freshman quarterback why not Mayfield or Webb?
"It's kind of a strange situation," Carter said. "First of all, the news is kind of coming out about Michael. I am so disappointed that he's banged up right now. I wish him a speedy recovery because I know how hard he's worked and it seems like he's been there forever. To kind of have his opportunity delayed with an injury is disappointing."
To listen to Carter's full interview, click here.
To listen to Atkinson's full interview, click here.
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