Brett Hundley Sr. knows the track record of high school quarterbacks in Arizona.
While there have been a few exceptions and other late bloomers, this state has rarely developed blue-chip signal callers from the high school level on a consistent basis.
But when his son, Brett Hundley Jr., started turning heads at a young age, Hundley Sr. had no worries about him getting lost in the shuffle.
“I knew that, eventually, if he did what we knew he was going to be capable of doing on the field, people would come in,” he said. “Without boasting, I knew he was capable of garnering some attention.”
It couldn’t have turned out much better for father and son. On Monday, Hundley verbally committed to play for UCLA, and plans to enroll at the school early and fight for the starting job as soon as he gets to campus.
While he’s going away for college, Hundley said he feels a sense of pride when people discuss where he comes from.
“That’s a big thing,” Hundley said. “When you do get old, people will look back and say, ‘Brett Hundley came out of that state.’ ”
With the advanced ways for players to get noticed — game film, YouTube highlights, scouting websites and others — it’s much easier for teams across the nation to see a bevy of potential recruits each year.
But preconceived notions can still hinder an Arizona product’s prospects, and the attention Hundley garnered may have dispelled any former thoughts about kids in the state.
“Early on in the process, Mike Sherman at (Texas) A&M, he said ‘We never go outside the state, especially for a quarterback,’ ” Hundley Sr. said. “He said, ‘You’re the first one.’ And they made him their No. 1 priority.
“Brett is going to be a big name going into that (Los Angeles) market, especially if he starts playing right away. That’s going to be a big plus for the state of Arizona. Every time he’s mentioned, Arizona will be right behind it.”
There are several factors that have contributed to the state’s lack of blue-chip prospects at the quarterback position.
In the past, many local coaches preferred run-oriented offenses with mobile quarterbacks. Pocket passers had fewer opportunities to impress, and in turn, college coaches stayed away.
“Just recently, you started to see teams go to more pass-oriented offenses,” Chaparral coach Charlie Ragle said. “You think people would have spread it out and chucked it around, but it was less than it should (have been). There haven’t been a ton of great quarterbacks because of the systems. Guys were still running Wing-T, power run game stuff. It doesn’t develop the quarterback. That’s the bigger issue. Guys haven’t had the knowledge of the passing game.”
There’s also the baseball conundrum. Chaparral’s starting quarterback, Connor Brewer, has offers from Arizona, Arizona State and Nebraska. It’s a fair bet that his two older brothers, Charles and Chase, could have been productive quarterbacks on the gridiron, but they both chose baseball early and never played football at Chaparral.
At Corona del Sol, Kyle Jorgensen had a shot to be the school’s quarterback, but decided instead to focus on his burgeoning baseball career. Arizona is a top baseball state, and a chance to get drafted or play for a prestigious college is tough to pass up.
It’s a decision many kids make early on to maximize their potential at one sport.
“Baseball has always been a year-round thing, and football has (lately) become more and more of a specialist-type of sport,” Queen Creek coach Joe Germaine said. “You look at ESPN and they’ve got national 7-on-7 tournaments, kids traveling all over the summer. It’s a nonstop thing. It could be a factor in the rapid development.”
If he stays on track, Hundley could become the first regular starting quarterback in the Pac-10 from Arizona since Ryan Kealy went from St. Mary’s to Arizona State in the late 1990s.
But the overall talent level in the state is increasing.
Two years ago, Notre Dame star Sean Renfree had an offer from ASU, but chose Duke, where he is currently starting.
Brewer will have plenty of suitors by the time his junior year game tape makes the rounds, and Brophy quarterback Tyler Bruggman has shown potential as a sophomore.
As the coaching improves and the players increasingly put in work to fine-tune their skills, quarterbacks in the state garner more interest.
Maybe more than anything, it’s simply the population boom. The number of Division I players in Arizona has grown by 136 percent in the past eight years, benefitting every spot on the field, including quarterbacks.
“The caliber comes with the growth,” Chandler coach Jim Ewan said. “The bigger the Valley keeps getting, there are going to be more talented kids at every position.”