In today's piece, I'd like to indulge a little bit of fantasy with regard to one of BYU's current targets, dual threat quarterback Travis Waller of Servite H.S. in Anaheim, California. Bronco Mendenhall has definitely decided on what he'd like for his quarterback of the future, and if the recruitment of Waller and Kimane Domena of the Class of 2015 along with Malik Henry of 2016 are any indication, it is very likely proof that the read option spread offense is here to stay in Provo.
We got a glimpse last year of how well a competent runner can make this system work behind the big hogmollies of the BYU offensive line, and it definitely did not disappoint. Of course, offensive football has two phases, and while the running game was nothing short of transcendent, the passing game was abysmal. Quarterback is still a position where arms are at a premium, and while Taysom Hill can huck the ball a country mile, he has all the accuracy of a drunkard at this point. It remains to be seen whether or not Hill will be able to fix his accuracy issues and improve from something reminiscent of a poor man's Jake Locker to a legitimate threat passing the football. A quarterback who can pass with reasonable competency can take the offense in this system to incredible heights, as Marcus Mariota and Darron Thomas proved with Oregon; or Robert Griffin III with Baylor; or Cam Newton at Auburn-notice a trend? While teams with traditional pro style offenses like Stanford, Michigan State, and Alabama have had no shortage of success recently on the national level, the dispersal of true NFL caliber defensive talent across 125 Division 1 FBS schools means that the speed and deception based read option allows teams with lots of team speed on offense, but without top caliber athletes at every position to compete with better teams by isolating their playmakers in one-on-one situations in the open field. A competent passer under center like Griffin can make this offense nigh unbeatable in the college game. This makes the change in focus from the Jim McMahon type quarterback as your prototype to the Steve Young type inevitable for a team like BYU that's looking to compete without NFL talent across the board.
A quarterback like Waller would be an ideal fit in such a system. He's highly rated in all categories, and is not just a competent and dynamic runner, but a great passer. He has the arm and the touch to make all the throws needed in a college system. He's tall, at 6'3", and at 188, his frame has the room to add the bulk that running in the read option will require. As you can see in his highlight video, he is a competent runner, he rarely takes big shots, and for such a tall player, he is able to "get small" with remarkable ease to get through the holes. Also evident in his highlights is his great ball placement. He throws a tremendous deep ball, and leads his receivers. A player like this, in BYU's system, with the weapons they would have at their fingertips from the previous year's class, would stand poised to see the team push toward an at large playoff bid by the end of their career, assuming the team can run the table.
BYU is a long shot with Waller at this time, though, as he's being pursued by Ohio State, Oregon, Tennessee, and Washington, among others. The Cougars still have a chance at this point, however, as he hasn't committed, and stranger things have happened. Even if he commits to another team, if the recruiting staff remains in contact, the chance remains, however infinitesimal, that Waller could pull a Budda Baker and declare for BYU right before signing day.
(Video Credit: ultrahighlightvideos, Youtube)