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July 30, 2008

Short quarterbacks starting to erase myth

Stand tall short guys. Your time has come.

Again.

There have always been misconceptions and myths about college football quarterbacks. There probably always will be.

And each time a myth pops up, it invariably gets shot down.

There was a time when black players and left-handers weren't considered quarterback material. Those issues were long ago proven bogus.

But just as a subtle reminder: The last two Heisman Trophy recipients were Ohio State quarterback Troy Smith, who is black, and Florida quarterback Tim Tebow, a lefty.

Now, with the emergence of spread offenses and shotgun formations, short guys are taking aim at ludicrous misconceptions and once again proving they can play quarterback.

"There have been a ton of (successful) six-footers Jim McMahon, Fran Tarkenton, Doug Flutie," said Texas Tech coach Mike Leach, who ironically entrusts his offense to 6-foot-3 Graham Harrell. "I met (Flutie) and he is short.

"They say you need a 6-4 guy to stand 10 yards back to see over a guy that's 6-7. That's foolishness. You pass in lanes."

In truth, the fallacy that height is required for quarterback success should have gone out the window for good when 5-foot-9 Doug Flutie won the 1984 Heisman Trophy. Since then three players who were 6-feet or shorter Syracuse's Don McPherson, BYU's Ty Detmer and Georgia Tech's Joe Hamilton were consensus first team All-Americans.

Yet, there appears an enduring belief that a quarterback needs to be a 6-foot-3 Adonis. In fact, only 10 percent (12 of 120) of the projected starting quarterbacks of Division I football programs are 6 feet or shorter.

Three are in the Big 12 - which has evolved into the most wide-open, pass-happy conference in college football. Half of its teams ranked among the nation's top 30 in passing offense a year ago.

One of those teams is Missouri, which is led by 6-footer Chase Daniel, a Heisman Trophy finalist who threw for more than 4,000 yards a year ago.

Missouri coach Gary Pinkel never balked about going with Daniel because he'd previously had success with shorter quarterbacks as an assistant coach at Washington in the early '90s.

"I coached Mark Brunell at Washington and he was 6-1 at most," Pinkel said. "Once he hit an offensive lineman with the ball and coach (Don) James said, 'Tell Brunell if he can't throw over the offensive line he's not going to play quarterback."

Brunell twice led Washington in passing and has had a long NFL career in which he was named to the Pro Bowl three times.

"Size is not as big a factor," said Kansas coach Mark Mangino, who starts 5-11 Todd Reesing at quarterback. "You need a smart guy with a quick release and leadership abilities. How tall a guy is is down on the list of priorities."

The short list
Here's a list of projected Division I starting quarterbacks who are 6 feet tall or shorter:
QuarterbackTeamHeight
Chase Daniel Missouri 6-0
Dwight Dasher Middle Tenn. 5-10
Julian Edelman Kent State 6-0
Tyler Graunke Hawaii 6-0
Matt Grothe South Florida 6-0
Cody Hawkins Colorado 5-11
K. Kaheaku-Enhada Navy 5-11
Kinsmon Lancaster ULM 5-11
Paul McCall FIU 6-0
Patrick Pinkney E. Carolina 6-0
Todd Reesing Kansas 5-11
Shea Smith Air Force 5-11
Reesing has great leadership skills and a quick release, and passed for 3,486 yards last season. He led the Jayhawks to a 12-1 finish and Orange Bowl victory last season.

Colorado's Cody Hawkins, South Florida's Matt Grothe, East Carolina's Patrick Pinkney and Navy's Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada all measure 6 feet or shorter and all led their teams to bowl games last season. That should further debunk the notion that quarterbacks must be tall.

Perhaps then the only remaining myth or misconception would be whether short, black left-handers can be successful college quarterbacks.

Wait a minute. Armanti Edwards, who last season led Appalachian State to the Division I-AA championship and a historical upset of Michigan, fits that description.

Another myth shot down.

TRIVIA QUESTION

Name the eight Division I-A or FBS football programs located in the state of Ohio. (Answer at the end of the column.)

OLD SCHOOL

Name the college for which these former Hall of Fame running backs played.

1. Leroy Kelly

2. Frank Gifford

3. Walter Payton

4. Larry Csonka

5. Hugh McElhenny

6. Gale Sayers

7. Lenny Moore

8. Steve Van Buren

9. Red Grange

10. Tony Dorsett

QUICK HITTERS

First-year New Mexico State linebackers coach Barris Grant was reportedly threatened with arrest last week after allegedly obstructing an investigation involving an Aggie player. Campus police were investigating allegations that defensive end Rhyan Anderson struck his girlfriend. According to police, Grant refused to identify himself and refused to disclose where Anderson was.

Virginia offensive lineman Will Barker and freshman Dave Roberts were arrested last weekend on petty larceny charges for allegedly stealing beer from a cooler at a Charlottesville nightclub. Roberts was also charged with underage possession of alcohol and using a fake ID.

Baylor sophomore quarterback Tyler Beatty announced he would transfer. Beatty played in three games as a freshman.

Iowa State running back J.J. Bass has been indefinitely suspended for violation of team rules and may not be available when the Cyclones begin practice. Bass rushed for 462 yards last season.

Iowa backup kicker Austin Signor has announced his intention to transfer to Division I-AA Eastern Illinois. By transferring to a Division I-AA school Signor would be immediately eligible to play.

Tackle Rylan Reed bench pressed a Texas Tech school record 625 pounds on Monday. Reed, a cancer survivor, previously had set the school record with a 565-pound lift.

West Virginia center Mike Dent says he's 100 percent recovered from shoulder surgery that forced him to miss all of spring practice. He has been cleared for all drills and says he's looking forward to testing the shoulder.

Ohio State defensive tackle Doug Worthington was arrested last weekend on drunken-driving charges. Police reports show Worthington was driving 41 mph in a 25 mph zone. His blood-alcohol level was not included in the report.

Arizona tackle recruit J'Marcus Webb of Navarro (Texas) Junior College has not yet qualified academically and isn't expected to report this weekend.

Tarence Farmer, formerly a safety at Alabama, has decided to transfer to Wyoming. Farmer must sit out the 2008 season, but will have three years of eligibility remaining.

Arkansas backup linebacker Freddy Burton on Monday pleaded guilty to charges of DWI and careless driving. He was arrested June 29 with a blood alcohol level of 0.13. The legal limit is 0.09. Also, wide receiver Marques Wade was arrested on similar charges last weekend.

Charges of simple marijuana possession were dropped against South Carolina receiver Dion LeCorn. LeCorn had passed a drug test within days of his arrest last February.

OLD SCHOOL ANSWERS

1. Morgan State

2. USC

3. Jackson State

4. Syracuse

5. Washington

6. Kansas

7. Penn State

8. LSU

9. Illinois

10. Pittsburgh

TRIVIA ANSWER

Akron, Bowling Green, Cincinnati, Kent State, Miami University, Ohio University, Ohio State, Toledo

Olin Buchanan is the senior college football writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at olin@rivals.com.



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