Posted: 3:22 pm Thursday, October 15th, 2009

L.J. Thomas, Marshyl Rothman: Two quarterbacks nobody wants 

By Jason Lieser

Note: For more on Rothman and Thomas, check Jason’s story on PBgametime.com

Jupiter Christian quarterback Marshyl Rothman and Glades Central’s L.J. Thomas were sitting in lounge chairs at a 7-on-7 tournament in Tampa earlier this year, trying to the get the attention of some Michigan assistant coaches, when they realized it.

“Dude, we’re in the same boat,” Rothman said to Thomas.

That boat has an impressive cargo list, but the one thing not on board is a college scholarship offer.

Rothman

Rothman

Thomas

Thomas

Rothman and Thomas, who face each other tomorrow in Belle Glade at 6:30 p.m., were the area’s best two quarterbacks last season. Aside from a handful of schools that are already solid at the position, most high schools would be happy to have either of these two.

In the past three years, they are a combined 48-2 as starters. Each has led his team to the finals of a prestigious 7-on-7 tournament (Jupiter Christian was second in the 2008 adidas competition; Glades Central won the NFL’s tourney this year).

And nobody wants them.

Both players have had many conversations with colleges, but no school has stepped forward with an offer.

Thomas (6-1, 190, No. 38 on The Big Board) has drawn interest from West Virginia, Central Michigan, Florida International, Central Florida and Middle Tennessee State, but none have been serious enough to indicate an offer is on its way.

“He’s the starting quarterback at Glades Central, a great football school, and his arm strength is unbelievable, so I can’t see why he hasn’t gotten offers,” Jupiter Christian coach Bill Powers said. “I’m not saying it has to be from Florida or Alabama, but with all the Division I schools out there, I can’t believe there’s no one that has made him an offer.”

Here are Thomas’ numbers from his junior and senior seasons:

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Year Rec. CMP/ATT Yds TD INTs
2008 10-0 108/173 2,022 26 4
2009 5-0 64/119 1,355 16 2

“I’ve done everything I can,” Thomas said. “I have nothing to prove to anybody. I just have to leave it up to the school to decide if they want me or not.”

Thomas can throw the ball 50 yards on one knee and maxes out around 70 yards, which is well within normal arm strength for top-tier quarterback recruits. He has not had the expert training of other quarterbacks, so his mechanics could improve, but it seems like that would only increase his upside. If he can do what he’s doing with average fundamentals, imagine what a college coach could do with him.

By skipping Thomas but offering virtually every skill player on his team, colleges are essentially telling Thomas they think he has little to do with an offense that puts up 38 points per game. Coach Jessie Hester believes there is a misconception that anyone could play quarterback on a team this good.

“All his classmates, all these kids he played with since PeeWee league, have offers,” Hester said. “You always have to wonder, ‘Why? I’m the quarterback. I’m what’s really making this deal gel. Why haven’t I gotten any hard offers?’
“Any other quarterback in this system, for what we’re doing with an inexperienced offensive line, would be having a miserable year. This kid is standing up during all of this. He’s playing heads and shoulders better than what he did last year.”

Rothman, who helped Jupiter Christian win 32 straight games and two state titles, doesn’t have any offers either. Here are his numbers from the past season and a half:

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Year Rec. CMP/ATT Yds TDs INTs
2008 10-0 79/121 1,222 21 4
2009 5-1 47/83 973 10 1

It should also be noted that Rothman has 339 rushing yards and eight touchdown runs.

Obviously, Rothman’s biggest obstacle is his height. At 5-8 1/2, 170, he hardly has the typical build for a college quarterback, but he has done just about everything possible to offset that. Plus, spread teams use a lot of roll-out passes, so height would not be that much of an issue.

“It wouldn’t matter if I did anything else if I was 6-2,” Rothman said. “It sucks, especially when you go on the websites and see the guy who’s only played for one year, but he’s 6-3. He puts up terrible stats, but college coaches think, ‘I can turn this kid into something.’ I guess I can see the reasoning there, where the potential is higher than mine, but it’s frustrating and it pisses me off.

“I go to all the camps. I know for a fact I compete. I’m always in that last group with the Eddie Sullivans, the Brandon Doughtys, and it’s frustrating to be lumped into that group and then be the only one in that group without anything, just because of size.”

His mobility should help him, though. He runs the 40-yard dash in 4.61 seconds. To give that some context, Glades Central DB/WR also runs a 4.6. That’s at the high end of the spectrum for BCS wide receivers, but it’s definitely a good mark for quarterbacks.

“Even if you’re not looking at him as a quarterback, you could see the kid playing another position,” Hester said. “To find out he’s not getting any offers is kind of mind-boggling. He’s a real good athlete.”

Rothman occasionally ditches the obvious play in favor of trying for something bigger, but for the most part, he is a pretty good decision maker. He went his first 73 passes without throwing an interception this season.

Furthermore, Rothman has been exceptional in off-season camps and 7-on-7 tournaments. He is routinely among the top performers in quarterback camps and carried Jupiter Christian in the ’08 adidas tournament. For many high school players, starring in 7-on-7 events is enough to earn a scholarship.

A dozen or so schools have talked seriously with Rothman, but at this point, no one is promising anything. Right now, he has six schools that seem like possibilities: Villanova, Fordham, Wofford, Lehigh, Lafayette and New Hampshire. At this point, he is favoring Fordham if an offer comes forward.

One advantage for both Rothman and Thomas is they are likely to play deep into the post-season, which increases their opportunities to be seen by college coaches.