High School Sports

Versatility rules S.C. QB class

USC landed two instate quarterbacks last year in Aramis Hillary and Reid McCullom, two distinctly different signal callers in the way they approach the game. Hillary is a threat to beat you with the run or pass, while McCullom is more of a pure drop back passer.

Leave it to Steve Spurrier to know there is room for both types of quarterbacks on a college roster.

With defensive players becoming bigger and faster, the dual-threat quarterback is becoming more of a need than a luxury. While the class of 2009 in South Carolina does not have a standout drawing offers from major Division I programs, the state has more than its fair share of dual-threat signal callers.

South Carolina rivals.com recruiting analyst Tony Morrell said that is a trend that is moving across the country.

“As colleges are putting a premium on having a guy able to move his feet, I think you will see less and less of a pure dropback passer on the high school level,” Morrell said.

South Pointe’s Stephon Gilmore is the highest-ranked quarterback in this class, but he is projected as a defensive back in college. Among his numerous offers, Michigan is the only one that wants him to play quarterback.

Gilmore said he is more than willing to take whatever the defense gives him.

“Being able to run opens up so many things,” he said. “Whenever you are able to beat teams with your feet, that’s just another thing they have to worry about.”

After Gilmore, there is a long line of players more likely to receive Division I offers for positions other than quarterback.

Calhoun County’s David Sims, Mauldin’s Joshua McKie, Chesnee’s Cedric Proctor and Fort Dorchester’s Galen Bennett fall into the running quarterback mold.

“All of those guys are a change-of-pace guy that has a chance to move the chains on third down with their feet as well as their arm,” Morrell said. “There’s not really a pure quarterback in this year’s class. Just like the case with the running back position, there are some underclassmen that could garner at least regional interest on the Division I level coming up.”

The best pure passer could be transfer Donnie McElveen of Summerville. Last season he threw for over 1,900 yards in leading Mount Tabor High of Winston-Salem, N.C., to the state championship game. He is the grandson of legendary Green Wave coach John McKissisk, and his family moved in the offseason so he could finish his career playing under his grandfather.

He currently has offers from Central Florida and East Carolina and expects to make a decision before the season begins. Even though he is not as big a running threat as some of the other state quarterbacks, he understands the importance of being able to get out of the pocket.

“If a defense thinks all you are going to do is throw the ball, they will drop another player back in coverage,” McElveen said. “Being able to get out and run just opens up so many things in the passing game. I’m not going to run for over 1,000 yards, but if I need to take off, I feel like I am able to.”

Related stories from The State in Columbia SC