Tuesday December 29th, 2009

He broke the Mississippi state record for career touchdown passes. By 40. He accounted for 81 touchdowns (63 throwing, 18 rushing) as a senior. In the Class 4A state title game earlier this month, he led his team to victory by passing for 369 yards and three touchdowns as a quarterback and recording 16 tackles and one interception as a safety. He even averaged 41.4 yards per punt this past season, though he always punted out of the shotgun and jokes that all he did was "kick line drives and let it roll for days."

But for all the numbers Dylan Favre posted this season at St. Stanislaus High in Bay St. Louis, Miss., the only one college coaches seem to care about is 71. Favre is 71 inches tall. Five-foot-11.

Favre is living proof that when seeking quarterbacks, FBS coaches value their precious measurables more than production -- aside from the aforementioned 81 touchdowns, Favre threw for 5,589 yards and rushed for 1,265 in 2009 -- or bloodlines. It's no coincidence this Favre lives in a small town in southwest Mississippi. He's Brett Favre's nephew.

So far, Southern Miss, Tulane and FCS school Northwestern State have been the only schools willing to offer Mississippi's reigning Mr. Football a scholarship to play quarterback. Favre hopes that will change after Saturday, when he will join dozens of players holding multiple FBS offers at the Offense-Defense Bowl in Myrtle Beach, S.C. There, Favre will throw passes against the likes of USC-bound safety Dion Bailey and LSU-bound defensive back Ronnie Vinson. Favre hopes a good showing will convince more college coaches he deserves a closer look.

Favre has heard throughout the recruiting process that he's too short to play quarterback in college. Frankly, he's sick of it. "They say the reason why short quarterbacks don't get a chance is they can't see over the line," Favre said. "But they never really give anyone a chance to do it. You don't see guys 5-11 playing quarterback because they don't even get a shot. You can't prove yourself if you don't get a shot."

Saturday, Favre's linemen will range from 6-3 to 6-8. If he can see over behemoths such as Skyler Schofner (a 6-7, 300-pounder committed to Michigan State), then Favre can see over anyone. Favre knows it can be done. He watched Chase Daniel (6-foot) do it at Missouri. He watched Todd Reesing (5-11) do it at Kansas. He watched Doug Flutie (5-10) do it in the NFL.

Favre thought he had already proven himself, but as his senior season wore on without any offers, the best Rockachaws player since class of 1942 grad Doc "Mr. Inside" Blanchard -- who won the 1945 Heisman Trophy at Army -- realized nothing he did in his cleats was as important as how he measured in his socks. That fact has also frustrated St. Stanislaus coach Forrest Williams. In most of his conversations with college coaches, Williams finds himself explaining first that while the Rockachaws run a pass-heavy spread scheme, Favre's numbers aren't simply the product of a system. Then he tackles the height issue. "He's got the heart of a lion. The intangibles he's got far out-measure 5-11," said Williams, a former walk-on receiver at Mississippi State. "If you measured Dylan for the type of football player he is, he'd be 6-5, 235."

Southern Miss coach Larry Fedora is one of the few who looked past Favre's height. Fedora offered Favre the day before St. Stanislaus beat Lafayette County for the state title. In that department, Favre already has a leg up on his famous uncle. Brett Favre, whose younger brother, Jeff, is Dylan's father, received only one scholarship offer -- also from Southern Miss. But Brett didn't get his offer until the night before Signing Day, after a Golden Eagles target chose another school. On top of that, Brett's offer was to play defensive back.

Dylan explained that his grandfather, Irvin, who coached his boys at Hancock North Central, wasn't about to change his Wing-T scheme for anyone, not even to showcase his rocket-armed son. Asked how his late grandfather might appraise the offense Dylan piloted, Dylan laughed. "He'd be pulling his hair out," Dylan said.

In a way, Dylan is glad he's had to fight so hard for every scholarship offer. "I don't want them to give me a shot because of my last name," he said. "I don't think that has anything to do with it. I think I've done enough getting the grades and the ACT score, winning championships and breaking records. I've done enough that if my last name was Johnson, at least I deserve a shot. That's all I want."

And just as Dylan's uncle refused to go to the bench against Carolina earlier this month, Dylan refuses to accept a position switch. The younger Favre caught the eye of Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt at a camp earlier this year. Nutt asked Favre if he'd consider playing defense in college. "I told him just like I told everybody else," Favre said. "If I'm not playing quarterback, then I'm not playing."

Favre should have his chance to play quarterback. Recently, Iowa State, Oklahoma State and Wisconsin requested video of Favre from Williams. If junior college standout Cam Newton turns down Mississippi State in favor of Auburn, Favre thinks he may have a chance at an offer from the Bulldogs. Truly, Dylan wouldn't care how many other quarterbacks came in with him. He would gladly compete with any number of blue-chippers.

"I just want a shot to prove myself," he said. "I think that's all I need."

Three schools already have offered that shot. If Favre plays well against some of the nation's best Saturday, then more offers could come.

Still, Williams knows most college coaches won't look past 71 inches. Too bad for them, he said. "There's no question in my mind, he's going to be successful for someone," Williams said. "There's going to be a lot of teams that regret passing on him."

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