Four former AZ prep stars will vie for 2021 Heisman Trophy

If there was any doubt that Arizona has become an important stopover for college coaches on the recruiting trail looking for a top quarterback prospect, the Heisman Trophy considerations for next season should validate that distinction.

Four former high school quarterbacks from this state are among the top 15 players in the Heisman betting odds.  In fact, there’s an Arizona kid sitting at the very top of that list.

But let’s start with the long shots and work our way up the list:

Brock Purdy is on the SportsBetting.ag‘s list at No. 15, and former high school rival Tyler Shough is just two spots above at No. 13.

The two players were linked forever in Arizona sports history following an epic game in 2016 when Purdy’s No. 5-ranked Perry High School and Shough’s No. 1 Hamilton High combined for 123 points and over 1,300 combined total yards of offense in a shoot-out for the ages that ended in a 63-60 Perry victory.

Purdy stacked up 556 yards of total offense, throwing for four touchdowns and running for three more to fuel the win.  Shough finished with 334 total yards and five scores, an impressive set of stats that was overshadowed by Purdy’s surreal performance.

Purdy headed for Iowa State upon graduation and Shough wound up at Oregon after decommitting from his first choice of North Carolina.  Now Shough is on the move again after entering the transfer portal following his redshirt sophomore season, during which he started all seven games for the Ducks.

Shough passed for 1,559 yards and 13 touchdowns last season, completing 63.5 percent of his pass attempts.  Purdy threw for 2,750 yards and 19 touchdowns, while contributing total offense of 3,132 yards and 24 TDs.  He will go into his senior season as the winningest QB in Iowa State history, owning or sharing 25 school records.

No. 7 on the betting list is Kedon Slovis, who joined the USC program in January of 2019 after graduating early from Desert Mountain High School in Scottsdale, where he was tutored by former NFL quarterback, Kurt Warner.

Slovis got his chance to start as a freshman in a baptism of fire when he took over in the Trojans’ season opener when JT Daniels went down with a season-ending injury.  He exceeded all expectations that season by throwing for 3,502 yards and 30 touchdowns, finished the season third nationally in completion percentage, and was named the 2019 Pac-12 Offensive Freshman of the Year.

Last season, Slovis passed for 1,921 yards and 17 touchdowns in a COVID-shortened six-game schedule.

But the Arizona product that will get the most attention during the coming season is Spencer Rattler, who sits at the top of the list as the odds-on favorite to win the Heisman as a sophomore at Oklahoma.

The Pinnacle High School graduate has also been rated as the top returning quarterback in college football by Pro Football Focus and the top returning QB in the Big 12 Conference by Bleacher Report.

Rattler (above photo) is used to being in the spotlight.  He was one of the most high-profile high school athletes to come out of Arizona, with offers from Arizona and Arizona State in his freshman year.  By the time he reached his senior year he was ranked as the No. 1 quarterback prospect in the Class of 2019.

His reputation was such that Netflix sent their cameras to the north Phoenix school to follow him through his senior season, with plans to produce a documentary.  The five-star recruit didn’t disappoint, living up to the hype by breaking the Arizona high school passing record early in the season.

And he didn’t skip a beat in transitioning to the college game, where he became the first freshman in almost 30 years to start a game for the Sooners.  He led Oklahoma to a 9-2 record, a Big 12 championship, and a 55-20 domination of Florida in the Cotton Bowl.

Rattler threw for 2,784 yards and 25 touchdowns, completing 68 percent of his pass attempts.  He led the Big 12 in completion percentage, total yards, yards per attempt, touchdowns, and passer rating.

Another season like the last and he may become one of a select group to  win a Heisman Trophy as a sophomore.  Right now, his chances look really good.

And with four quarterbacks in the running, Arizona’s odds of laying claim to a Heisman winner are also looking pretty good.

(Photo: Oklahoma Athletics)