Newhall Hart (Calif.) High coach Mike Herrington can’t account for all the visual cues Brady White and Trent Irwin use to communicate on the field. So if White, the team’s starting quarterback, and Irwin, a wide receiver, hurry to the line of scrimmage for a short slant pass, motion for a go route or signal another play to burn the defense, Herrington may not see it coming. He isn’t bothered by the freelancing because it almost always works.
“They are on the same wavelength a lot,” Herrington said.
The chemistry White and Irwin have developed playing together since seventh grade has helped them become one of the best quarterback-receiver duos in this class of high school seniors. White has exceeded 8,500 career passing yards and 80 touchdown passes, while Irwin has surpassed 4,000 receiving yards and 40 receiving touchdowns.
As they near the conclusion of their high school careers, the question is whether the dynamic duo’s partnership will continue in college.
White, the No. 4 pro-style quarterback in the class of 2015, committed to Arizona State in May. Irwin, the No. 8 receiver, remains uncommitted, but says his top two schools are Stanford and Arizona State, with UCLA, Texas Tech and Oregon State rounding out his top five. White and Irwin, who are good friends off the field, have a hard time avoiding discussing the possibility of playing together in college. White has devoted a lot of time to recruiting Irwin, saying the two have serious talks about the Sun Devils one or two days a week.
“I’m not trying to shove anything down his throat,” White says. “I’m going to let him kind of enjoy the process and find out what he needs to figure out and make his own decision, but I’m definitely in his ear every day considering we go to the same school and are always hanging out.”
Landing only one half of Newhall Hart’s prolific duo would obviously not be an ideal outcome for Arizona State given the production the two have shown they’re capable of. Yet in White, the Sun Devils would still be getting a talented quarterback with the potential to compete for playing time early in his career. Although White projects as a pocket passer at the next level, he’s athletic enough to hurt defenses with his legs. In a win over Canyon (Calif.) High on Friday, for instance, White rushed for 75 yards and three touchdowns.
White’s defining trait, however, may be his well-rounded skill set. “He can make every throw. He has a strong arm, he can throw deep, he can throw intermediate, he can throw short, he makes good decisions, he can run,” said Adam Gorney, a West recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. “He does all the things that Todd Graham is going to want out of a quarterback.”
Steve Clarkson, who trains White and is considered one of the top quarterback coaches in the country, likened White to Joe Namath and highlighted his compact throwing motion and improvisational skills. “He has one of the quickest releases I’ve ever seen and he’s deadly accurate,” Clarkson said. “But where people kind of get amazed is when he gets flushed from the pocket -- his creativity really sets him apart.”
Irwin made a name for himself before he reached high school and has since blossomed into one of the more complete receivers in the country while raising his profile in various recruiting events. He is renowned for his route-running, catch radius and ability to set up defensive backs and create separation on short and intermediate routes. Gorney said Irwin is practically unstoppable in single coverage and described him as “kind of like an automatic first down.”
“He’s a guy who, in the intermediate game, can just get open against anybody,” Gorney said. He added: “He just runs his route, gets open, somehow confuses the cornerback every single time and then catches everything thrown his way.”
Irwin says he is considering announcing his decision sometime in November but is not sure whether that will happen. When discussing his thinking process, Irwin mentioned Stanford’s superior academics and the offense run at Arizona State, which “passes the ball a little more.” The Sun Devils can also sell Irwin on the chance to continue playing with a quarterback Irwin knows can deliver him the ball.
Around the nation
- Michigan freshman defensive back Jabrill Peppers stirred a recruiting squabble involving Don Bosco (N.J.) Prep and Paramus Catholic (N.J.) High when he described the circumstances surrounding his transfer from Don Bosco to Paramus in a text message to a The Record columnist. Here is part of the message:
“My transferring process was a complete disaster, there were threats made to me, notes left in my locker by students, the coaching staff telling me that I’ll miss a whole year of eligibility, telling me any school I go to they would take them down, spreading a bad reputation about me saying I’m uncoachable, a bad kid and a whole bunch of other comments,” texted Peppers, who transferred after his sophomore season. “This scared away a lot of teams that I was looking into. I left because I was unhappy, wasn’t comfortable, and it wasn’t how he said it was going to be. It was the worst one-and-a-half years of my life. Football shouldn’t be the only reason you attend a school, and that’s how I felt when I was there.”
The New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association prohibits athletic recruitment or transferring for “athletic advantage.”
Peppers’ description -- which also included remarks indicating Don Bosco coach Greg Toal tried to recruit him and the assertion that “there is no better and bigger recruiter than coach Toal and his staff” -- comes after Toal told USA Today Sports that Paramus Catholic coach Chris Partridge “stole a bunch of my players and has a history of recruiting.” In response to Peppers’ remarks, Don Bosco athletic director Brian McAleer issued a statement supporting Toal, who did not back down from his comments. “They suddenly have 30-40 transfers. It’s a joke,” Toal told the paper. Paramus Catholic president Jim Vail defended his program in light of the recruiting allegations, describing the charges as a “smear campaign.”
This is not the first transfer-related controversy involving Paramus Catholic or Don Bosco. Last month, Rashan Gary, the No. 2 defensive tackle and No. 8 player in the class of 2016, was ruled eligible to play for Paramus Catholic after transferring from Scotch Plains Fanwood (N.J.) High. Scotch Plains had alleged that Gary was recruited, with coach Jon Stack charging that that a man outfitted in Paramus Catholic gear spoke to Gary at a track meet last spring, and that boosters and Peppers called Gary. In addition, Rich Hansen, the coach at St. Peter’s (N.J.) Prep, said in September that Paramus Catholic tried to recruit Alabama cornerback commit Minkah Fitzpatrick from his team prior to the 2013 season. Meanwhile, the NJSIAA recently ruled that Don Bosco junior receiver Jack Bowen is ineligible on the grounds that his transfer from Caldwell (N.J.) High was for athletic advantage, according to The Record.
- Caro Community Schools superintendent Mike Joslyn announced last week that the varsity team would call off its season three games early. According to a report from minbcnews.com, two-thirds of the players voted in favor of the decision. Joslyn said three players had suffered concussions and four or five had other season-ending injuries. The varsity team reportedly had 22 players on last week’s roster, but only after calling up eight sophomores from the junior varsity. Caro went 1-8.
- Police have launched a criminal investigation into an accusation that football players at Escalante, a combined middle/high school in Tierra Amarilla, N.M., covertly videotaped volleyball players while they changed clothes in a locker room, reports the news station KRQE. A parent of an eighth grade girl at the school who he said was in the girls’ locker room on Thursday called state police last week. “They were changing. They were changing, and they witnessed amongst my daughter, amongst other girls, witnessed a hand come out of the ceiling with an iPhone,” said Serna, who added that his son, a freshman member of the football team, was in the bathroom in the boys’ locker room at the time of the accused videotaping but heard that football players lifted a ceiling tile to get a view of the girls’ locker room. Voyeurism of a minor is a felony offense in New Mexico. A police official told the station that everyone involved is under 18.
- Houston Rockets star Dwight Howard attended Friday night’s game between George Ranch (Texas) High and Foster (Texas) High.
- Auburn recruit Jason Smith told AL.com he thinks he will have “a little more to bring to the table” than current Tigers starter Nick Marshall. Smith -- who signed with Auburn as a 2013 recruit but did not qualify academically and is now attending Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College -- is listed as an athlete but said in June that coach Gus Malzahn told Smith he will get an opportunity to play quarterback.
Smith visited Auburn’s campus for the Tigers’ Oct. 4 win over LSU, in which Marshall passed for 207 yards and two touchdowns and added 119 yards and two scores on the ground.
In March, Smith was arrested and charged with marijuana possession and attempting to elude police. He pleaded not guilty to all charges, but Malzahn has yet to make a determination on his status with program.
Over seven games at MGCCC this season -- the same school Auburn wide receiver D’haquille Williams attended before joining the Tigers -- Smith has completed 64 of his 92 pass attempts for 965 yards with 13 touchdowns and no interceptions while adding 302 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground. Auburn sophomore Jeremy Johnson, a fellow 2013 signee, is currently listed as the backup quarterback on the team’s depth chart. It was reported Monday that Smith may consider visiting Texas.
- Click here for SI.com’s coverage of the Sayreville hazing scandal
- Greater Atlanta Christian School (Ga.) senior Micah Abernathy committed to Tennessee. Abernathy is the No. 35 cornerback in the class of 2015. The Volunteers also received a commitment from Hillsboro (Tenn.) High senior athlete Vincent Perry.
- St. Edward (Ohio) High senior Alex Stump flipped his commitment from Kentucky to Ohio State. Stump is the No. 41 wide receiver in the class of 2015.
- John Curtis (La.) High senior Bo Wallace committed to Notre Dame. Wallace is the No. 27 outside linebacker in the class of 2015.
- Lincolnton (N.C.) High senior Darian Roseboro committed to N.C. State. Roseboro is the No. 6 defensive tackle in the class of 2015.
- Corona del Sol (Ariz.) High senior Cassius Peat committed to UCLA. Peat is the No. 42 outside linebacker in the class of 2015.
- Pepperell (Ga.) High junior running back Devyn Collins rushed for a state-record 485 yards and five touchdowns on 46 carries in a 34-32 loss to Rockmart (Ga.) High.
- Corn Bible (Okla.) Academy senior fullback Jordan Penner returned three punts for touchdowns and added a rushing score in a 64-14 win over Temple (Okla.) High.
- Monarch (Fla.) High quarterback Michael Harris completed 21 of 33 passes for 415 yards and five touchdowns and added a 15-yard rushing score in a 47-14 win over Taravella (Fla.) High.
- Millville (N.J.) High senior Ryquell Armstead carried 29 times for a school-record 337 yards and five touchdowns in a 48-13 win over Absegami (N.J.) High.
- South Elgin (Ill.) senior quarterback Hayden Nelson completed 21 of 33 passes for 380 yards and five touchdowns in a 42-36 win over Glenbard East (Ill.) High.