Torrance Former NFL Scout Talks About Torrance Gibson

Image from 247sports.com

As everyone knows by now, American Heritage QB Torrance Gibson will make his first out-of-state unofficial visit to Oklahoma this weekend. That visit will be followed by visits to other schools like LSU, Auburn, Alabama, Clemson, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Florida.

There is a lot of debate about what kind of quarterback, and even player, Torrance Gibson can be. Some think he is strictly a running QB. Some think he can be a throwing QB. And some even think he might have more upside as a defensive player,  or as a wide receiver. In my personal opinion, Torrance can play any position he wants. But his ability to have success as a QB, specifically, depends on what he wants and whether he is willing to make the hard, but prudent decisions to achieve what he wants.

Our friend Chris Trulove, as our regular readers already know, is the former director of pro scouting for the Denver Broncos. He spent about ten years with the Broncos organization. We wanted to get Chris’ take on Gibson because it’s my belief that Torrance, like many great athletes, wants to be a high draft pick. So who better to take a look at Gibson’s film than a former NFL scout? It’s also my belief, based on conversations with Torrance and people around him, that he also wants to be a great throwing quarterback.

First, we asked Chris to just watch Torrance’s film and give us his take. Keep in mind, Chris doesn’t follow HS recruiting. He doesn’t care if you’re a “5 star” or a “2 star.” He’s not swayed by hype, because he doesn’t know whether or not it exists. He just calls it like he sees it, and he is a tough critic at times. But in our experience, if he says you can play…you can play! This is what he had to say:

“Freakish speed for a quarterback. Excellent scrambler and play-maker outside the pocket.”

Already, you can see that Chris is immediately drawn to what everyone sees with Gibson. Which is his all-world speed in the open field. Chris goes on:

“Good arm in the pocket, but he will need to continue to develop his patience and stay in the pocket at the next level.”

Then Chris commented on Gibson’s current ability as a passer vs. his upside.

“He’s certainly a dual-threat guy, but at his current stage of development, when compared to other throwing QBs, he is an average passer. However, he has the talent to become a very good passing QB. With continued development as an in-the-pocket passer he is a power conference level quarterback and again, possesses rare running ability.”

The above notes from Chris might sound like a criticism of Gibson, but really it is very high praise. There are people out there that simply don’t believe Gibson is a next level QB. But what Chris is saying is that the tools are there. This coincides with what other people we trust believe about Torrance.

The reality is that Torrance’s running ability is so far beyond any QB you’ll come across that he hasn’t been forced to develop his passing game the way a non-running QB would have. However, that is why the scheme and the coaches Torrance chooses could play a significant role in how his story plays out.

I wanted to confirm what Chris believed about Gibson’s raw ability as a passer so I asked him; if Gibson couldn’t run, could he become a legitimate pocket passer? Chris responded by saying:

“Yes, the raw tools are there.”

Then I asked how high his ceiling is strictly as a pocket passer. Chris responded with:

“It is difficult to say whether he can be elite or not yet. The current film doesn’t reveal elite.  And elite depends on focus and accuracy. However the potential to be very good is there. You can see that level of potential on film. It’s too early to discount his ability to be elite, but with the information available to me currently, I cannot say that.”

Basically what I got from Chris in our conversation was that based strictly on the film available to him, he’s not ready to say that Gibson’s potential as a pocket passer is elite. However, keep in mind that these questions were based on a hypothetical scenario where Gibson was simply an average runner. So for Chris to say that the film shows the potential for Gibson to be at least a good pocket passer at the next level is significant in my opinion. Because the reality is the college football world hasn’t really seen many “good” pocket passers with Gibson’s speed. It would be quite a stretch, in my estimation, to say, for example, that Vince Young was a “good” pocket passer.

The next question I asked was very speculative and probably a really difficult question for even a former NFL scout to answer. I asked if Torrance appeared to have the tools to become a 1st round QB.

“It is possible. Like most he will need physical development in terms of bulk, as well as passing development. He does not have to read defenses much in his current offense, so only time will tell whether he has the capacity and the work ethic to do so. In my experience not many players develop the mental savvy to be 1st rounders, so in that sense it’s very hard predict.”

Lastly, I wanted to know what scheme Chris felt would be best for Torrance in order to improve his chances of being a high draft pick as a QB.

“If we are talking strictly about down-the-road NFL goals, then he needs time in a pass first, spread offense. But one in which the coaches give him the green light to run. If he is in a run first, spread scheme he will win a lot of college games, but will still need more work to reach those lofty NFL goals.”

What Chris said is similar to how I’ve felt and it seems straight forward enough. You’re already an elite runner, but you want to become a good, if not elite passer. The only way to do that is to be trained and play in a passing offense. Chris does point out that within that spread scheme, Gibson should have the freedom to tuck it and run. Even in the NFL, the threat of his legs would be vital and is a tremendous selling point to teams. But if a team is a run first spread, it means they practice the run first.

Recruiting and Scheme

Here is a list of the schools Torrance plans on visiting: Oklahoma, LSU, Alabama, Auburn, Clemson and Florida.

Oklahoma – We’ve already pointed out at that it’s hard to deny what Oklahoma could do with Gibson. And not just from a schematic standpoint, but also based on the tradition of what OU and Josh Heupel have developed quarterbacks. Bob Stoops and Heupel (I believe Heup was a GA when White won his Heisman) have produced two Heisman Trophy winning QBs — who could not run — and a No. 1 overall NFL draft pick. That doesn’t even include the yards Landry Jones racked up as a passer.

Additionally, Oklahoma shows a nice balance of allowing their QBs to take off (see Trevor Knight), but they always insist on protecting their QBs by not running them an excessive amount. And the simple reality, even in this new offensive scheme, is their highest priority is still to develop a passing QB. Obviously this is an Oklahoma website, but homer or not it’s hard to deny the record and consistency OU brings to the table here.

I’m certainly not as well versed on the background of the other schools, but I’ll make some brief comments.

LSU – Cam Cameron hasn’t been at LSU long, and before he got there Les Miles’ history of developing top-notch passers wasn’t exactly the best. But Cameron did a stellar job with Zach Mettenberger. He always seemed to have a strong arm, but his ability to move around in the pocket to buy time, read coverages, and throw accurately really took a step forward under Cameron’s tutelage. Additionally, while LSU always seemed to be more a ground-and-pound offense, in the games I watched they appeared to be much more willing to throw the ball around the field. In fact they had two 1000-yard receivers this past season.

Alabama – Alabama is a pro-style offense that limits their time in 10 personnel. I think they did a fantastic job of developing AJ McCarron, however what a lot of people don’t realize is McCarron was a pretty good runner as well. He’s no Torrance Gibson mind you, but he can still move. And I think what stood out to me in the Sugar Bowl was how unwilling he was to pick up yards with his feet when Oklahoma pinned their ears back. It almost feels like the reigns might be a little too tight at Alabama and, as such, all the QBs coming from there get labeled “game manager.” However, no one can deny the power of appeal Nick Saban and Bama can offer right now. So simply on prestige and/or reputation alone the Crimson Tide have to be considered a threat.

Auburn – This one is tough because on the one hand Auburn is more of a run first spread offense. And that is exactly the kind of offense that Chris Trulove seemed to be saying that Gibson needs to avoid. In fact, Auburn only attempted 285 passes.  However, Malzahn is an offensive genius and a darn good coach. The job he did last year with Auburn was nothing short of miraculous. Additionally, from all accounts we’ve heard he’s a great coach to play for as well. And like Stoops, Malzahn has some evidence to back his claims because he’s also got a No. 1 overall QB pick in Cam Newton with some similar traits as Torrance. However, Newton was a bigger bodied player than Gibson and you have to wonder what kind of toll that amount of running would take on Gibson’s frame over the long haul.

Clemson – I think the scheme and the freedom that Clemson gave Tajh Boyd was exactly what Gibson needs. Plenty of receivers out there to throw to, but they also gave him the freedom to tuck it and run. Still though you could see Tajh’s development as a pocket passer throughout his years there. Coach Swinney doesn’t have that 1st round QB or Heisman Trophy winner to hang his hat on, but he’s definitely done some good things in the time he’s been at Clemson.

Florida – Unfortunately, with all the injuries Florida sustained this year it was difficult to really assess what kind of development Jeff Driskel had. Schematically, Florida was a power running team two years ago. Which was in part due to their offensive coordinator’s pedigree/tendencies and in part due to the lack of a real throwing QB. However, with a new offensive coordinator in Gainesville the Gators are apparently going to more of a spread offense. So both that and proximity could eventually prove to be positives in Gibson’s recruitment.

ADDITION: This morning Torrance posted on Twitter that he will also be visiting Tennessee. Just a few quick comments on their head coach, Butch Jones. Obviously, Jones is new to Tennessee and there are always risks playing for a new coach – you never know how it’s going to play out. That said, Jones had some running QBs in his last couple years at Cincinnati in Munchie Legaux and Zach Collaros. And despite being good runners, Jones wasn’t timid about letting them throw the ball. Granted, he didn’t the ball around the yard like a Clemson or an Oklahoma, but they threw it a decent amount.

FINAL NOTES:

– O-line development. If you don’t have guys that can protect you, it’s hard to develop into a pocket passer.

– Running game. While Gibson might want to avoid playing in a run first offense, having a good running game is still necessary to help a quarterback’s performance and development.

– If it weren’t for the fact that Texas A&M will likely end up with Kyler Murray, they would be a school that I’d take a serious look at if I were in Gibson’s position. Another school I’d be considering is Baylor. Baylor runs a lot of zone-read principles, but they will throw off play-action more often than not and do a darn good job of it. Additionally, Briles has his own dual-threat Heisman winning QB and high NFL draft pick to back up his claims.


  • Doobie74OU

    Great Job Super K! I think I’m going to call you Special K cause your articles are way better for breakfast than some stupid cereal! Thanks again for your hard work and support of our FB addiction!

  • Zack

    Great stuff as always. Would be nice if OU landed a guy like this. At least they will get a feel of whether he may really like what OU can offer.
    Jordan mentioned the qb from Allen texas? Is it likely now he’s number 2 on the board now that stidham committed to tech?

  • Ed Cotter

    Great info K, thanks! Keep up the great work TFB!

  • SoonerPhins

    If I remember correctly Jason White could run, but then blew both his knees out, Bradford didn’t need to run with his passing ability and all that talent around, but could still scramble (OSU Driving Touchdown).

    • Jordan Esco

      You’re correct re: White

    • Super K

      Yep. Sorry should have clarified that. Though compared to Torrance almost no one can run lol.

  • WilliamJack

    What a great read and analysis! Especially on a “light news week” with Spring Break.
    TFB is THE go-to site for Sooner football news! Keep up the good work and Thank you!

  • Andy Montella

    Of all the teams mentioned, Oklahoma & Clemson seem like the best fit. Also if he got an offer from Oregon, that would be another good fit.
    Ohio State would run him into the ground
    Alabama is a bad fit schematically
    LSU don’t see it either
    Florida, lol next
    Auburn would be a good fit if he just wanted to be a runner. If he wants to develop his pass game as well, then Oklahoma or Clemson seem like the best fits

    • Super K

      I can’t say I disagree with much of that. I hate to sound super biased but it’s hard to argue with what coach Bob Stoops has done with QBs and how he generally strikes a nice balance in so many ways. Even when you think we’re having a year of QB struggles, like last year…the light comes on and Trevor Knight goes Optimus Prime on Alabama.

      • Andy Montella

        Honestly, and I’m not just saying this because I’m a homer. But OU would be his best fit in terms of run/pass and getting to the next level.

  • Kanfdog

    It is said often on this site but you guys at TFB are really putting out some excellent stuff. It has become a must see site for me multiple times a day. Keep up the good work!

    • Super K

      Thank you!

  • Leroy Jenkins

    Honestly this is my favorite write up you’ve done. Great idea to cover not only how OU would use him and what a pro scout says, but how he might see himself fitting into other programs besides OU. I really hope Gibson reads this article.

    Articles like this is why your site is by far the best. I know it’s a ton of writing to do, but I’d love to see this exact format for a few selected recruits that you’re really high on (such as Gibson and Mbanasor). Or maybe doing it for just one player at a particular position (such as the LB Hilliard and/or Wheeler, a RB target, a DT target, etc.) That’d give us readers a good idea what the recruit sees in other programs and slightly expands the focus of the site besides simply an OU-homer site. If anything it’s an added component to your evaluations that I’ve never found elsewhere (especially since you’re not behind a pay-wall).

    The pay sites should be nervous with you guys around.

    • Zack

      They already are nervous.

      • Bennie Owen

        They should be. I, for one, have canceled all my memberships.

        • Martin

          me too

    • Sooner Ray

      Let’s see if the “insiders” try to claim this good stuff is stolen information.

      • Jordan Esco

        What you guys didn’t know is that you have to have multiple personalities to write here, it’s the first part of the interview process. That’s how we get all this info, from our own “sources.”

    • Indy_sooner

      Great points, would love to add McKenzie to this list as well.

  • Shelby is a Patriot

    You know going into the Sugar Bowl the media kept suggesting that Trevor was our “running QB’, then he went and threw for over 300yds and 4tds against Bama (though Trevor was always the better passer than Blake, he just lacked the confidence). A lot of that had to do with Heupel, too. In fact, I’m pretty sure Heupel said they want QBs who can throw first, so I have no doubt that if Torrance comes to OU and puts in the work, Heupel can help him be an NFL caliber, pass first, QB.

  • Sooner Ray

    Great piece Super K. I think it will take one hell of a sales job to get him here but it’s a job our coaches should be up for. We all know he could exceed here and make it to the next level, we just have to convince him of that.

  • Adrian

    Can you guy print this out and give it to the Coaches to show Gibson? Good notes straight from an NFL guy

    • Jordan Esco

      What makes you think the coaches don’t already read the site? ;)

  • j l

    if we miss on gibson, and cant get stidham to flip, are we pretty much done with QB’s in this class?

    • Jordan Esco

      Obviously I’m not Josh Heupel (shhhh, don’t tell anyone), but I’d say there’s probably a less than 5% chance of that being the case. Barring some kind of unforeseen development, I expect them to take at least one QB in every class — including 2015.

      • j l

        I thought gibson and stidham were our only offers at this point? Do you really just take 1 to take 1, even if you dont ever expect him to get off the bench?

        • Jordan Esco

          They have one other offer out in addition to those two. And no, I don’t believe they’d take one just to take one. But I also don’t think they’ll find themselves in that position.

          • j l

            ok good, id hate to see us grab some kid and waste a scholarship that has no chance of playing. Especially with all 4 QB’s on the roster sophmore or younger.

      • Stephen

        With that, they should take at least one big WR (Dahu Green), to grow along with RS or Freshman QB’s.

        Imagine a recruiting class with both TG and Green, not to mention the talent OU already has committed for 2015. Could be big time.

    • Zack

      I’m sure they will get a qb just because you never know what could happen as far as injuries and transfers or for example if Cody Thomas decided to play baseball full time. But in my opinion it’s going to be tough to land a good 4* kid and definitely a 5* kid. So I could see an under the radar 3* dual threat like dallis Todd’s old quarterback. Or they should go with a local kid that may not take a lot of selling or demand as much attention. That way they can focus on other positions.

  • Indy_sooner

    Great post! I love the subjective nature of these posts. Someone joked about doing a review on TX, but in all seriousness it is good to know how our targets are projected and how other programs stack up.

    Regarding TG, I am not confident on landing him, but I am also not that worried. IMHO, Josh and Malzahn seem to be the best fit for his talent. He would really will do good anywhere (Aka-Manziel) but the above two, however, would take him much further as long as he is cognizant of the need to work on honing his passing.

  • soonerjunky

    The day a run first QB such as Gibson starts for OU, is the day I quit rooting for OU. This guy is an elite athlete, but not an elite QB. I don’t think he should be the number 1 QB. I would rather have a pure passer that can run, rather than an elite athlete that can throw some. I know I’m probably in the minority on this, but just my opinion (my opinion doesn’t matter),

    • Sooner Ray

      I’m not going to rip you up for having an opinion because other sites take care of that behavior, but I would root for the Sooners no matter what the offense does. Sure I want yards gained and points on the board but some of the highest scoring O’s OU has ever had was when they ran the bone and the QB was sometimes one of the best runners on the field and couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn throwing the ball. I’ll be a fan no matter what the strategy is as long as they’re playing ball. It was tough being proud in some years between Barry and Bob.

      • Daddy R

        “I’ll be a fan no matter what the strategy is as long as they’re playing ball.” I couldn’t agree more Ray. Sometimes I miss the run first QB days, and apparently, some Sooner fans don’t remember those days. Hell when Bob installed such a pass-happy offense his first two years with Leach, many wondered what the hell was happening, “we’re a running-school,” I remember hearing uttered more than once, lol. As for me, I like a little of both, kind of where it seems we are headed. I would LOVE to see the wishbone as a “package” thrown in there, too. So many options…

    • Shelby is a Patriot

      I realize that is just your opinion, but to say you wouldn’t root for OU is very fair weather fan-like. Heupel has said that they recruit athletes at QB, but they have to be a pass first QB. Based off of the offense we run, Torrance is a perfect fit, and I doubt Heupel would offer him unless he thought he could mold him into the passing QB he can be, and clearly wants to be.

      • Sooner Ray

        Well stated Shelby, I know you’re not “fair weather”. :-)

    • Super K

      The question isn’t what he is now. It’s what he can become. Torrance has had the training that a lot of suburban kids get. And despite that he throws a deep ball as well as anyone. Its about his potential and what he can be molded into.

      • Indy_sooner

        Agreed. The *potential* to be great, for this young man is strong. He’s got all the tools needed to excel and then some. He has things that you cannot really teach, and the things he needs can be acquired with work. Add in our scheme and coaches and you get the picture that he could be lethal.

  • Stoops’Visor

    Clemson just got the #1 DT QB in the country Deshaun Watson. That’s got to hurt their chances with Torrance I would think.

  • TheBoots

    I thought Heupel joined OU (2004) the year after White left (2003)?

    • Chase Korenek

      Don’t mean to laugh at you dude but you’re way off. Heupel was the QB on the 2000 NC team that beat FSU. He was drafted, I believe in the 6th round by Miami in 2001.

      • TheBoots

        The story refers to Heupel being at OU as a GA in 2003 when White won the Heisman. Heupel’s career as a coach at OU started in 2004.

        • Chase Korenek

          Correct…I thought you meant “playing” not coaching.