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Texas HS Juggernaut Austin Westlake Names Paxton Land New Starting QB

Austin Westlake is known for producing elite-caliber quarterback talent, and 2024 prospect Paxton Land is next up.

More than perhaps any high school football program in America, Austin Westlake is known for producing elite quarterback talent.

Drew Brees, Nick Foles, Sam Ehlinger and most recently 2022's No. 1 overall recruit Cade Klubnik, are just a few of the names that sit immortalized in the halls of the Westlake facilities.

And on Tuesday, new Westlake head coach Tony Salazar named the next in line to take over the starting quarterback position - rising 2024 prospect, Paxton Land.

"We had a really tough competition," Salazar told "We charted every throw these guys made from spring football, to 7-on-7 and through fall camp. But at the end of the day, we felt like Paxton was the most consistent quarterback we had, and that he gave us the best chance to win. But we have always used two quarterbacks in this system, so the other guys are going to have to stay ready too, and they know that."

For Salazar, it's a meaningful decision in many ways. Not only is it his first time naming a starting quarterback for Westlake, but it's a choice that will have a direct impact on his first year as the leader of the program.

For Land, meanwhile, being named the starter is both an exciting opportunity, and a chance to bring his dreams into reality.

"Obviously something I’ve dreamed about my entire life," Land said. "Seeing the history of the program, Drew Brees, Nick Foles, Sam Ehlinger, and now Cade. I mean, it's a pretty elite fraternity. So, I'm honored to have earned this spot on the team. No handouts at Westlake, as it should be."

With this position, as with any other high-profile program, will come expectations.

After all, Westlake has now won three consecutive Texas 6A state titles over some of the toughest competition in America - and they have eyes on a fourth.

But fortunately for Land, he will have plenty of talent around him to help carry those expectations.

"What I told Paxton was, 'you have better weapons around you than any of those other guys had to work with," Salazar said. "You're not going to have to do this all on your own.' And I think it's important for him to remember that."

He was also able to sit and learn from one of the best Chapparals to ever do it in Klubnik, who was the starter for all three championship wins.

"It's pretty special to learn behind a generational quarterback like Cade," Land said. "Just the quarterbacks that Westlake produced, he's up there with the greats. And just getting to know him as a person and the way that he handled real-life situations and on-the-field situations. Just watching his motion day in and day out. How he prepared for practice and how he prepared for games. It was really special for me to learn under him."

Land already has the physical traits and talent to be successful in this kind of position, but he also knows that there is still room to improve.

One way to do that will be to continue to grow physically. Another was to get as many reps in as possible over the last few months through 7-on-7 tournaments, spring football, and offseason workouts.

Most importantly, however, is for him to have faith in that ability, stay confident in his plan, and rely on his teammates.

"This offseason for me, was just more about getting bigger, faster, stronger, just kind of controlling what I can control," said Land. "It's just being confident in myself and knowing that, as long as I do what I know how to do, God has a plan for me. And whatever that plan is, however it plays out, I'm going to be comfortable with that. Also just relying on my teammates, because I know that if I get to that spot it's just knowing that they are going to have my back."

Now that he has landed the starting role, the next step will be for Land to show his talents on the field.

He has had his brief stints behind Klubnik, completing 13 of 16 passes for 196 yards and four scores, to go along with seven carries for 61 yds.

Now, the 6-4, 205-pound rising junior will get to show what he can really do with the full arsenal of the Westlake offense at his disposal.

He will get his first opportunity to prove himself as the starter this Friday night at 7:30 PM when Westlake takes on Ridge Point from Chaparral Stadium.