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Navarro and Keene, Two Arizona Quarterbacks that Found a Home in Orlando

UCF Football has two talented quarterbacks backing up Dillon Gabriel. Both of the Arizona signal callers possess unique quarterback skills.

Orlando, Fla. - High school football in Arizona has never been seen as a hotbed for the nation’s best talent. That distinction traditionally goes to California, Florida, Texas, and Georgia. However, Arizona has been producing high quality quarterback talent for roughly 20 years if not longer.

From the likes of current NFL quarterbacks Brett Hundley and Ryan Fitzpatrick, to college stars like Kedon Slovis and Spencer Rattler, Arizona quarterbacks earned the right to be considered amongst the nation’s best. Former UCF head coach Josh Heupel also took notice recruiting two of the top quarterbacks with the classes of 2020 and 2021.

Parker Navarro and Mikey Keene

Parker Navarro and Mikey Keene

Parker Navarro

Vitals: 6’0”, 200-pounds

High School: Tempe (Ariz.) Desert Vista

Year: Redshirt Freshman

Scholarship Offers: Arizona State, Hawaii, Idaho, North Texas, Northern Colorado, Rocky Mountain, Sacramento State, Sioux Falls, UCF, and Western New Mexico.

Navarro was rated as a three star quarterback coming out of high school by all of the major recruiting databases, finishing his senior season with 3,708 total yards and 40 touchdowns. His best career game in high school came in the first round of the 6A Arizona playoffs completing 19 of his 24 passes for 435 yards and seven touchdowns, adding 108 yards, including a five yard game winning touchdown, in a 70 to 63 win for Desert Vista High School.

Navarro arrived to Orlando during a strange time with COVID-19 limiting practice. He also arrived just one season the coaches who recruited him to UCF left, but after the arrival of Coach Gus Malzahn, Parker impressed during the UCF spring game with an impressive rushing total of 40 yards, including a seven yard rushing touchdown.

UCF Co-Offensive Coordinator and Quarterback Coach GJ Kinne told the press, “Parker’s another guy that his athletic ability flashes. He’s still a younger guy and he’s still processing everything.”

Playing Style: Navarro possesses the ability to elude the rush, make off-platform throws, and gouge a defense with his ability to run the football. From a similarity standpoint, Navarro represents a little bit of former Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel and a little bit of former New Orleans Saints signal caller Drew Brees. Those two quarterbacks were selected because of Navarro's ability to make awkward throws look easy like Manziel, and Brees because of his accuracy.

Mikey Keene

Vitals: 5’11”, 180-pounds

High School: Chandler High (Chandler, AZ)

Year: Freshman

Scholarship Offers: Coastal Carolina, Columbia, Eastern Michigan, Hawaii, Iowa State, Middle Tennessee State, Nevada, New Mexico, Northern Arizona, San Jose State, Tulane, UCF, Utah State, Western Kentucky and Yale.

Keene arrived on campus in January with a significant amount of fanfare. He drew immediate comparisons to UCF legend McKenzie Milton. The two quarterbacks share can both run and throw quite well. Both signal callers like to pass the ball over the middle of the field and have some terrific athletic gifts that allow them to be mobile quarterbacks.

Keene's style of play earned him back to back open division Arizona championships, and in his final season with Chandler High School, Keene was one of five finalists for the Ed Doherty Award which is awarded to the top high school player in Arizona.

Keene’s arrival was also a little strange with Coach Heupel’s departure for Tennessee occurring within his first month with the Knights. Coach Malzahn talked about him battling for the second spot on the depth chart, "He's had a good camp. It's really important to him. You do see him improving. He's out there fighting. He's fighting to compete. That's what you look for from a coaching standpoint. Who wants it the worst? He's battling. Quadry is battling. The rest of them are battling too."

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Playing Style: With really quick feet inside the pocket, Keene found his way out of many potential sacks. He’s an athlete. Keene is the type of physical talent that might have eventually led him to play centerfield or shortstop in baseball, or point guard in basketball. 

Keene’s mannerisms and overall playing style do relate to Milton as noted above, as well as Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson. Comparison’s aside, Keene’s ability to quickly readjust where he wants to throw the football, combined with good accuracy, allows him a chance to one day be UCF’s starting signal caller.

Wrapping Up

Navarro and Keene add dual-threat quarterback abilities that Coach Malzahn loved during his time with the Auburn Tigers, and still enjoys while coaching the Knights. Look for both of them to get game time during blowouts, potentially both getting multiple possessions against Bethune Cookman. The two Arizona quarterbacks still have much to learn before earning significant playing time, but there are attributes from both signal callers to keep an eye on moving forward.

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