McKinney North’s Eric Herbel. McKinney High’s Zach Lee. McKinney Boyd’s Jonovan Griffin.
Over the last 10 years, each of these players have been regarded as the best pure quarterback in the history of their program and all have been able to lead their teams to regular season and postseason success while shattering school records.
Herbel threw for over 2,000 yards in his junior and senior season, was named district MVP, and went on to play football at TCU. He also lead McKinney North to its first-ever playoff appearance in 2005 and again in 2006. Lee, meanwhile, passed for 81 touchdowns as a three-year starter and passed up a baseball and football career at LSU to play professional baseball for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Like Herbel, Lee took the Lions to back-to-back postseason appearances. As a junior, Griffin was phenomenal as he completed 60 percent of his passes and threw for 2,420 yards while leading the Broncos in rushing with 1,200 yards. An injury in the district title game cut his senior year short but his numbers were still impressive as he threw and rushed for over 1,000 yards. Although he was only able to lead the Broncos to the postseason once during his high school career, the future Oklahoma State Cowboy gave Boyd a district championship – a feat never accomplished by Herbel or Lee.
All three of these quarterbacks managed to cement their legacies in high school and beyond. So the question now becomes – who’s next?
McKinney ISD’s next phenom quarterback could be McKinney Boyd’s Curtis Ladd, who was outstanding in last Thursday’s spring football game. It could even be McKinney High’s Robert Somborn, who showed flashes of brilliance in his sophomore season as the Lions’ first quarterback not named Lee since 2006. McKinney North’s duel-threat quarterback Brylen Williams is also a candidate as he was able to lead the Bulldogs to a Crosstown Showdown win last fall.
Any of those players are capable of putting their stamp on their respective programs but it’s possible that the best pure quarterback in town isn’t even in high school yet.
Brian Sutter Jr. is an eighth-grader at Evans Middle School who, at the age of 14, is projected to be one of the top underclassmen in the country. When he first found out that he was being scouted, the McKinney High bound quarterback said he thought it was ‘awesome’ that he was receiving national buzz.
“It gives me inspiration to work even harder,” he said.
Brian’s football career began in the second-grade when he joined a flag football team. In the fourth-grade, the game shifted gears to tackle football and he spent the next two years playing quarterback, safety, and kick returner for the McKinney Eagles.
“I’ve played quarterback since the fourth-grade,” he said. “My coach asked me and a group of other boys to try out on the second day of practice and ever since then I knew this was for me and it became my passion.
In Brian’s third season, the Eagles changed their name to the Colts and the change seemed to pay off as the sixth-grade team went on to play in the city Super Bowl. From there, Brian’s middle school career began at Evans Middle School, a program that once featured MHS great Zach Lee.
“I loved playing football at Evans. The coaches there know football and they really care about the team.”
As a seventh-grader, he threw for three touchdowns and more than 220 yards in a single game. Last fall, Brian threw for double-digit touchdowns as an eighth-grader and managed to spread touchdown passes around to more than five different receivers, including Jeff Patton, Dylan Wallace, and Alex Lensing.
“Jeff and I connected on the most passes together and the most touchdowns,” he said. “He is one of the fastest receivers I’ve ever seen and he has amazing hands. He will also be going to McKinney High.”
Brian said that he enjoys getting as many players involved in the offense as he can because it demonstrates one of his greatest strengths – leadership.
“I’ve been working on being more confident in leading my team and I feel like I’ve improved a lot,” he said.
There is a lot of hype surrounding Brian and its evident by the nearly 50,000 YouTube hits his highlight video has received that football fans across the country are keeping a close eye on his career. Even with the added pressure of having the perform to an even larger audience than the fans that will fill Ron Poe Stadium, Brian said he’s more excited than he is nervous. When it comes to his highlight videos, the 5-11, 165-pound incoming freshman said that he will do his best to make sure his next tape outshines anything he’s done in the past two years.
“Every year I try to make sure that the season’s footage and plays are even better.”
In addition to receiving thousands of views, Brian’s seventh and eighth-grade YouTube highlight reels are loaded with hundreds of comments. Anyone who frequents YouTube knows that the comment section can either be a place of encouragement or intense negativity so Brian said he doesn’t take any poster’s comments too seriously.
“I don’t want to get too caught up in the good ones or too worried about the negative ones.”
Despite being labeled as a future star, Brian knows that he still has plenty to work on during the summer before entering freshmen camp in August. One thing he plans on practicing is his ability to read the opposing defense.
“I want to be able to read defenses and know where to go with the ball based on coverage or mismatches. I’m going to spend a lot of time this summer working on this.”
As soon as he found out that he would be attending McKinney High as a freshman, Brian said he’s done all he can to follow the program, including attending most varsity football games and getting to know several ninth-grade and varsity players. He’s even had the privilege of meeting his future head coach, Jeff Smith.
“I’ve met coach Smith several times and I’m really excited to play for him,” he said. “He came to a lot of my games at Evans to watch our team play.”
When asked if he feels that he has a lot to live up to, Brian simply answered, “Yes”.
“I have really high goals and they mean a lot to me.”
Overall, Brian said his main goal is to help McKinney High win its first state championship since 1979. He said he is also aiming to break the Lions’ school record for most career touchdown passes.
-Joe Arriola, TownSquareBuzz.com