THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – The only high school game JT Shrout ever started came during the final game of his sophomore year in 2015. He fractured his fibula in the first half, which means he’s yet to play a full game as a high school quarterback. To call Shrout, a class of 2018 prospect, a sleeper recruit would be polite. A senior at Hart High School who hails from Newhall, California, Shrout is the Rivals.com No. 91 player in California. Another recruiting service ranks him as the country’s No. 1,192nd player.
After a two-day stint of wowing NFL coaches, quarterbacks and assistants at The Quarterback Collective in July, it’s become clear that Shrout could go down as the country’s most underrated quarterback prospect. Shrout is committed to Justin Wilcox at California, but he isn’t exactly the type of commitment who has the message board denizens foaming at the mouth for his arrival.
But it’s safe to project Shrout, a 6-foot-3, 190-pound rising senior, as one of the biggest steals of the 2018 recruiting class. That was the consensus of coaches at the QB Collective, including one NFL coordinator who told Yahoo Sports that Shrout was by far the most polished prospect there. Shrout wowed all the coaches with his technical precision, polished footwork and smooth throwing motion. “I think of all the quarterbacks who were here, if I were an NFL general manager or quarterback coach, [he’d be] the guy who could step in on day one and fundamentally work within an NFL system,” said Sage Rosenfels, a longtime NFL backup who works as private quarterback coach in the Omaha area. “His drop was smooth. His fundamentals were very efficient and he throws a great ball.”
Shrout shined amid a loaded field of quarterbacks that included the country’s top 2018 prospect (Justin Fields), the top 2019 prospect (JT Daniels) and the grandiose potential of an elite 2020 prospect (DJ Uiagalelei). All are stellar and have physical advantages over the slight Shrout, but none flashed the same skill set. “He’s the beautiful, natural-looking girl with no make-up in the corner of the room,” said Rich Bartel, a former NFL quarterback who trains quarterbacks in Texas. “There will be a lot of other sexy people who walk in front of your eyes, but he’s the one you should marry in terms of quarterbacks.”
For Shrout to slip under the radar, it took a confluence of bad timing and a mature decision. Last season, Shrout ended up backing up Nick Moore at Hart. Moore is the younger brother of Miami Dolphins backup quarterback and former Hart star Matt Moore. Shrout essentially decided to attempt to compete with Moore instead of transferring. “By making this decision, you’re taking a very, very, very big chance,” said Jim Shrout, his father. “And making it much more difficult on yourself of getting that dream to come true and making it to a big school.”
Shrout failed to unseat Moore, who was the returning starter last year and earned a scholarship to Eastern Washington. Faced with the decision to bide his time as a backup or chase quarterbacking glory elsewhere, Shrout stayed at Hart. Jim Shrout left the decision up to his son, although he admitted that there were many family ties nudging him to stick around. Jim Shrout played receiver at Hart for Mike Herrington, who has been the Hart head coach since 1989. JT grew up going to Hart games, as he’s a third-generation student there.
JT decided to stay at Hart, and the sentimental decision has paid off. Herrington stayed loyal to Moore, just as Jim Shrout expected. JT says not playing last year was difficult, but he cobbled together enough film, stayed diligent in keeping up with his footwork drills and built a reputation for technical wizardry. “Not playing was tough,” JT Shrout said. “I knew I was in the right place because my dad went to Hart and played for coach Herrington.”
Jim Shrout is proud of how his son’s path has unfolded. He said he raised his kids to not “turn tail and run and try and find an easier road” when things get difficult in life. That’s why he’s elated that through private quarterback tutors – notably Herrington’s brother Dean – JT was able to develop so much despite limited playing time. “It’s amazing the way things have worked out for us,” Jim Shrout said. “When things are meant to be, they are meant to be. I think this was meant to be for him.”
Shrout will provide an intriguing match with Beau Baldwin, the former head coach at Eastern Washington who is Wilcox’s offensive coordinator at Cal. Baldwin won a national title at EWU, coached three Walter Payton award winners and eight times had the school ranked in the FCS top 10 in total offense and passing yards. Shrout can’t wait to get there and learn under Baldwin and quarterback coach Marques Tuiasosopo. “I’m excited to go play in that offense,” Shrout said. “It’s a quarterback’s dream. You get to throw it a lot. And a lot is on you. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”
Just as it will be fun when JT Shrout becomes a known name in the college football recruiting world over the next few months.
SOME QB NOTES: Here’s some leftover nuggets on the top quarterbacks at the QB Collective, a free camp that invited nearly 30 of the country’s top prospects to Southern California earlier this month to be coached by NFL coaches. (On Monday we looked at the disconnect between NFL offenses and the rest of football. On Wednesday we’ll profile Fields, Rivals’ No. 1 dual-threat quarterback prospect.)
Tanner McKee: It’s safe to say no freshman quarterback will be more ready to play immediately in college than Tanner McKee when he enrolls in college in 2020. McKee is a 6-foot-6, 220-pound rising senior at Corona (Calif.) Centennial High School. He’s planning on taking a two-year Mormon mission after high school and enrolling in college to play the 2020 season. McKee is a classic dropback quarterback with a powerful arm. He has offers from Alabama, Texas, BYU and Washington and essentially everyone in-between. “All the guys who are being recruited at this level, they have an eye past college and play professionally,” he said. “(It helps to) play in a pro-style system to further your own career and transition.”
Cameron Rising: Rising is a 2018 Texas commitment who is the brother of Tyson Rising, an Arizona State offensive lineman. Tom Herman attempted to recruit Tyson Rising to Houston out of junior college, which gave young Cameron a chance to get to know Herman on a home visit. Rising is a four-star, pro-style prospect who made such an impression at last year’s QB Collective on Sean McVay that the new Rams coach gave him a shoutout during his speech to the campers this year. “You could see he’s got natural leadership qualities and characteristics,” McVay later told Yahoo Sports about Rising. “Certain guys don’t have to say anything. They’re that alpha dog, that alpha male. He stood out to us last year, we enjoyed his demeanor and disposition. I’d be surprised if he’s not a very good one for years to come.” Rising is well developed off the field. He is reading a book, “The Four Agreements,” because he’d seen that Tom Brady read it. He also is considering majoring in agriculture at UT because he has a thriving tomato garden. “I enjoyed being around nature and plants and watching them grow over time,” he said. “It’s fun. It’s a way to get away from football and everything.”
Hank Bachmeier: Few quarterbacks have positioned themselves better in the class of 2019 than Bachmeier, who threw for 46 touchdowns and three interceptions last year. (For his career at Murrieta Valley (Calif.) High School, he boasts an 82-to-11 TD-INT ratio.) Bachmeier already boasts a long offer list from Boston College to Minnesota to Boise State to UCLA, and will bring an academic bend wherever he attends. He’s studying German in high school and complains that his advanced English classes are too “protocol” and “formal.” Bachmeier played through a nasty thumb blister for both days of the camp, repeatedly running to the sideline to get it re-taped in order to participate in the drills. He relished the opportunity to learn from the NFL coaches: “Everything I learned out here was pro-style and NFL stuff. They pick apart some NFL things as far as dropbacks and play-action. Not that I don’t necessarily get it in high school, but there’s a lot of details out here you can polish and pick up that you don’t get in high school.”
DJ Uiagalelei: The rising sophomore at St. John Bosco in Bellflower, California, projects to be among the most coveted recruits in the 2020 class. He projects as a more athletic Ben Roethlisberger, already filling in at 6-foot-4 and 240 pounds at the end of his freshman year in high school. (His father, David, is a former celebrity bodyguard and college left tackle.) He’s in good hands at Bosco, as he’s expected to compete for a starting spot this season under the watchful eye of coach Jason Negro and offensive coordinator Chad Johnson. They’re the same duo who mentored Josh Rosen in high school and a big reason Uiagalelei said he chose the school. It’s too early to begin projecting the specifics of Uiagalelei’s recruiting, other than to say he’s an intriguing prospect that everyone will want. “I do a little joke with me and my family,” he said. “I tell them I’m committed to Mt. SAC [junior college]. Until I de-commit, I don’t know where I’m going.” Uiagalelei said he has some family members who coach at Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, California, which is where the joke started. After watching him hit an upright from 75 yards away at the QB Collective, it’s safe to predict that commitment to Mt. SAC won’t hold up. (Alabama, Oregon and USC have already offered).
Alex Thomson: Thomson is a fourth-year junior at Wagner and was the camp’s only college counselor. At 6-foot-5 and 225 pounds, Thomson strikes the pose of a classic dropback quarterback. (And he’s worked with Phil Simms back in New Jersey, which has aided his development.) He has two college seasons left, but should eventually get some NFL buzz because of his prototype build and playing in an offense that’s a replica of the Atlanta Falcons. (Former Wagner OC Rich Scangarello, who is entering his first year as the 49ers QB coach, was an offensive assistant with the Atlanta Falcons in 2015.) Thomson threw for 16 touchdowns and five interceptions last season and credits Scangarello for his development. “He had a lot of experience,” Thomson says, “and helped me raise my game to the next level.”