They spend nearly 360 days a year working on their game, finding patches of grass all over the Valley to throw the football, many starting in the fifth grade.
They grow up to be Saturday college football heroes to their rabid fan bases.
For some, it takes off suddenly, unexpectedly.
Four standing out this season
Iowa State true freshman Brock Purdy was thrown into a game early two Saturdays ago at then nationally ranked Oklahoma State. He put up numbers that were the norm last season in high school at Gilbert Perry, where he set single-season 6A records for passing yards and touchdown passes. He threw four TD passes and ran for another score in a win for his college team.
On Oct. 13, making his first college start, he threw three more TD passes in an upset of then-No. 6-ranked West Virginia.
Also that night, former Phoenix Pinnacle quarterback Brian Lewerke rallied Michigan State with a late touchdown pass to beat then-No. 8 Penn State.
Later on Oct. 13, former Chandler quarterback Bryce Perkins, whose journey to Virginia is a remarkable comeback story, got great help from his defense in Virginia’s 16-13 win over then-No. 16 Miami.
Former Paradise Valley quarterback Ryan Finley of North Carolina State, whose team is 5-0 heading into a matchup at No. 3 Clemson on Saturday, has been mentioned as the first QB to taken in next spring’s NFL draft.
On Oct. 1, CBS Sports, in a QB stock watch story, listed Finley No. 1, after a performance against that same strong Virginia defense, in which he completed 22 of 32 passes for 257 yards and three TDs.
Now comes the next crop, led by Pinnacle senior Spencer Rattler, who didn’t play Friday night against Scottsdale Chaparral in the ESPNU game. Rattler said he sprained his MCL.
“A lot of us have been getting a lot of exposure in Arizona,” said Rattler, a starter since his freshman year, who is committed to Oklahoma and last week became the state’s first 11,000-yard career passer. “There are probably about 10, 11 D-I quarterbacks in Arizona. I think it’s more than probably any other state. I mean Arizona is solid. I think it’s the best state for quarterbacks, for sure.”
Besides Rattler, just in this 2019 class in Arizona for future Division I quarterbacks, there are:
- Gilbert Higley’s Spencer Brasch, committed to California
- Chandler’s Jacob Conover, committed to BYU
- Queen Creek Casteel’s Gunner Cruz, committed to Washington State
- Scottsdale Desert Mountain’s Kedon Slovis, committed to USC
In the 2020 class, Chaparral’s Jack Miller, also out for Friday’s game at Pinnacle with a sprained knee, is committed to Ohio State.
And there is Rattler’s backup, junior J.D. Johnson, who had an offer from Arizona before even starting a varsity football game.
Paradise Valley junior Ben Finley, the brother of North Carolina State’s Ryan, picked up an Arizona State offer this season, while Gilbert junior Will Plummer, the brother of Purdue freshman QB Jack Plummer, picked up his first Pac-12 offer from Colorado.
Yuma Catholic junior Gage Reese leads Arizona in passing yardage with 2,685. He is one of 11 quarterbacks in Arizona with more than 2,000 passing yards through eight games.
“It’s not going to stop,” said Mike Giovando, who trains quarterbacks, including Rattler, Johnson and Plummer. “There’s something going on here. They’re getting coached by some good guys here. They’re getting a chance to throw the ball a lot.”