It’s obvious that South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier, like almost every other offensive mind in the country these days, is in the market for dual-threat quarterbacks.
The Gamecocks already have two of them, Stephen Garcia and Connor Shaw, atop the depth chart, and have a commitment from another, Clarke Central (Ga.) quarterback Martay Mattox, who plans to enroll in January.
USC is also pursuing Dwyer’s (Fla.) Jacoby Brissett and Bergen Catholic’s (N.J.) Tanner McEvoy. Both of them are standout athletes who would give South Carolina a signal caller capable of beating defenses with the pass and the run.
With any dual-threat quarterback, there is some inherent risk. Many players thrive in high school offenses built on simplistic, easy throws, so there is a chance that such players won’t be able to make a successful transition to the college game.
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Brissett and McEvoy are both solid passers, though Brissett may be the more likely to succeed as a collegiate quarterback due to his experience under center. McEvoy, rated the nation’s 38th-best athlete by Rivals, moved to quarterback from receiver this season and still has some learning to do at his new position.
Brissett, on the other hand, is polished enough that the likes of Florida State, Alabama, LSU, Wisconsin, Notre Dame and others are recruiting him along with the Gamecocks. While he is listed as a dual-threat quarterback, he prefers to stay in the pocket and beat teams with his arm instead of running after the slightest hint of pressure. He can, however, rush for big yards when the play breaks down.
Perhaps Brissett could best be described as an athletic, pro-style passer. The 6-foot-5, 225-pounder passed for 1,463 yards and 19 touchdowns as a junior, completing 62 percent of his passes and throwing just five interceptions.
He completed 64 percent of his passes for 2,473 yards, 32 touchdowns and one interception as a senior in 2010. He also rushed for 368 yards and seven scores.
“Honestly, I think Jacoby could throw for 300 every game if we’d let him,” Dwyer coach Jack Daniels said earlier this season.
Brissett led Dwyer to the Class 4A state championship in 2009 and narrowly lost in the state semifinals this season.
“He carries the team on his back when he needs to,” Dwyer Athletic Director Tom Pagley said. “That’s the type of kid he is. Big heart. Gifted athlete. Great kid. Great work ethic.
“He can throw. He can run. He’s deceivingly quick because he has a big, loping stride. He leads very well. He has all the tangibles. He’s going to be a huge asset for wherever he goes. He does it more by example than with his mouth. He does it unassumingly. He’s really well respected by his peers, the coaches and by the campus faculty.”
Brissett’s recruitment is complicated by his allegiance to two sports. A gifted forward for Dwyer’s basketball team, he averaged 15.2 points, 7.5 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game last season, earning Class 6A/5A/4A Player of the Year honors from the Florida Sun Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale.
Early in the recruiting process Brissett had drawn basketball offers from South Carolina, Clemson, Xavier, Miami and others. Though he understands that football is his future, Brissett may consider playing both sports at the next level.
“He's a smart basketball player,” Dwyer coach Fred Ross told the Sun Sentinel. “He's the first to practice and he studies the game. He made a statement every game in the playoffs. How Jacoby goes, we go. He's the best player around here.”
Still, Brissett is rated much higher as a quarterback than a basketball player. Rivals rates him 21st among all players in Florida and the nation’s sixth-best dual-threat quarterback. Scout rates him 22nd overall among quarterbacks. ESPN rates him 26th at his position.
Beyond basketball, there is another factor that could play into Brissett’s recruitment. He is close with teammate Nick O’Leary, widely considered the nation’s top senior tight end. They visited LSU and Wisconsin together and may ultimately sign with the same school.
If that happens, FSU likely has the best shot to sign them both.