Alumni quarterbacks hold reunion in Dallas as Tech battles SMU
Come Friday night, football season starts anew, but all the eyes of Lake Travis may not be watching the Cavaliers.
The current Cavaliers anyway.
While the Cavaliers kick off the season against Converse Judson, 200 miles away Texas Tech visits Southern Methodist. Seven Lake Travis graduates will take the field, including three who quarterbacked the Cavaliers to their five consecutive state championships. Two of those QBs figure to play, though maybe not the two experts thought as preseason practices began. Expect many Lake Travis area DVRs to record the game on ESPN, including one in Lake Travis coach Hank Carter’s house.
“I’d love to go watch it, but after our stuff is done we’ll go home and I’ll watch it,” he said as practices began.
Garrett Gilbert, who led the Cavaliers to the 2007 and 2008 championships, will start for SMU. Michael Brewer, who succeeded him and led the Cavaliers to the 2009 and 2010 titles, figured to start for the Red Raiders until a back injury cropped up. And Baker Mayfield, who led the 2011 championship team and enrolled at Tech as a walk-on, has been so impressive in summer workouts and fall practice that he could win the starting job in Brewer’s absence.
Their Lake Travis production was staggering. The trio produced 26,247 yards passing with 273 scores and just 54 interceptions and added another 3,916 yards and 82 scores rushing. They combined to win 91 of 98 starts over seven seasons.
Now a redshirt sophomore, Brewer threw for 375 yards and four touchdowns for the Red Raiders last year, but his status for Friday’s game is in doubt. Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury said Monday he’d wait until as late as game day to tell his team who’ll start at quarterback. The rest of us will know when the Red Raiders get the ball for the first time.
“All I’m hearing about Baker is that he’s up there at Texas Tech tearing it up at fall camp,” Carter said.
The elder statesman of the Lake Travis quarterback alumni, Gilbert is eager to embark on his senior season. After a disappointing sophomore season at Texas and an early-season injury as a junior, he transferred to SMU. He finished the academic year at Texas, graduated early and enrolled at SMU, where a medical redshirt gave him two years of eligibility.
Last season Gilbert improved as the season went along, saving his best for last. In his first four games, he managed just four touchdown passes and suffered nine interceptions while losing 30 yards on sacks. SMU started 1-3, but as Gilbert came on, so did the team. SMU won six of its final nine games, and Gilbert threw 11 touchdown passes against just six interceptions – including a five-game stretch without an interception, and also rushed for eight scores. Three times he rushed for better than 90 yards.
Those who know him enjoyed seeing him play like the Gilbert of old.
“For Garrett, man I think he played so well the last seven or eight ballgames last year,” Carter said. “To see him get his confidence back and the way they played, especially in that bowl game…. Now they are utilizing his skills probably a little closer to how we did when he was here, which seemed to work pretty well.”
The three are good friends and talk often when home. Last spring Gilbert and Mayfield spent a weekend with Brewer in Lubbock, and they spent much of the early part of the summer working out together at Lake Travis. Carter said they worked out hard and didn’t talk too much at each other about possibly facing off against on opposing sidelines.
“We had all three of those guys in here over the summer,” Carter said. “That’s one of the neat things about the kids we get to coach. They come back and we get to see them all the time. So Garrett and Michael and even Baker now that he’s going to Tech – he was kind of chirping up, talking about what that’s going to be like.”
For his part, Carter figures he can’t win and he can’t lose. His program will be well-represented on the national stage. A team led by a former Cavalier will win, and a team led by a former Cavalier will lose. He’s just hoping for a good showing by each Cavalier who gets a chance to shine.
“I kind of hope for a 60-60 tie,” he said. “It’s kind of like playing your brother. You want to win because you’re a competitor, but at the same time one of those guys is going to be upset after that ballgame and that’s not always an easy thing.”
Gilbert, Brewer and Mayfield aren’t the only Cavaliers in the game. For SMU, Colin Lagasse played on three championship teams, playing almost every position except offensive line. He even quarterbacked the team during the 2010 season when Brewer injured a shoulder. He’s a receiver/running back for the Mustangs hoping to see his first action. For Tech, Ryan Erxleben handles the punting duties, Kramer Fyfe is a backup kicker and Zach Austin is a freshman receiver.
Friendly foe quarterbacks:
Instances where college opponents featured quarterbacks from the same high school are far from common. ACN staff uncovered two instances. Westlake High School quarterbacks Jay Rodgers and Drew Brees both played in a Nov. 21, 1998 game. Brees started for Purdue and led his team to a 52-7 win over Indiana. Though he didn’t start Rogers, Brees’ predecessor at Westlake, played quarterback in the second half for the Hoosiers. A pair of Southlake Carroll quarterbacks started in the same game on Oct. 23, 2010. David Piland quarterbacked Houston to a 45-20 win over SMU, quarterbacked by his Dragon successor Kyle Padron.
Note: Citing team policy, Texas Tech declined interview requests for both Brewer and Mayfield. In Brewer’s case, players listed as injured don’t meet with the media. In Mayfield’s case, freshmen don’t meet with the media.
Four Lake Travis quarterbacks were on the field as Texas Tech and SMU opened the 2013 college football season.