This post is a spin-off of DWil’s post, Death of the Black QB (like they wrote something new) …, over at Sports on My Mind. I suggest you read that before you read this.
DWil’s thesis is that Black quarterbacks who are better athletes are done a disservice by coaches and scouts who make them run and do not teach them the finer art of quarterbacking. These quarterbacks are not taught the necessary skills to succeed in the NFL – to stay in the pocket, check off receivers, and only run when absolutely necessary. According to DWil, too many Black quarterbacks are told by their coaches to run for the sake of winning and, in turn, sacrifice their development. Once they get into the pros (if they get into the pros), these athletes are unequipped to play quarterback at the NFL level and are often told to change positions to take advantage of their athletic ability. Then, by doing what it takes to make a team, these former quarterback stars fall behind in football knowledge and often fail to live up to their potential.
In his post, DWil mentions the college success of former Florida State quarterback Charlie Ward and discusses possible future FSU quarterback E.J. Manuel. DWil compares the scrambling style of Ward to the possible in-the-pocket quarterbacking style of Manuel and concludes that Manuel should have a better chance of professional football success due to his size and style of play.
Unfortunately, sandwiched between Ward and Manuel has been a litany of Black Seminole quarterbacks who may give credence to DWil’s theory. These quarterbacks have not only had to battle their own potential, but also have been forced to compete against a White quarterback with less athletic ability but a more stereotypical quarterback style.
Since 2000, Black FSU quarterbacks have included Adrian McPherson, Fabian Walker, Anquan Boldin, Xavier Lee, and current quarterback D’Vontrey Richardson. While the failures of some of these quarterbacks were their own doing and others did eventually find success, I am going to discuss how all but Walker fit into DWil’s model.*
* Walker’s tenure at FSU was brief, 2000-2002. He barely played and struggled academically before transferring to Valdosta State.
Adrian McPherson (FSU QB 2001-2003) – Thought to possibly be the second coming of Charlie Ward, McPherson was the Florida High School Mr. Basketball and Mr. Football before coming to Florida State. Unfortunately, his high school success did not translate at the college level. Instead of focusing entirely on football, McPherson attempted both sports upon entry at FSU. After abandoning basketball, he was then pitted against former FSU quarterback Chris Rix. McPherson’s unpolished skills were apparent as he frequently struggled on the field, culminating in a game he was suspected of throwing for bets. McPherson’s career at FSU would also not be helped by a run-in with the law concerning check fraud.
Anquan Boldin (FSU QB 2002 Sugar Bowl) – Boldin enrolled at Florida State in 1999. A quarterback in high school, he was moved to wide receiver to take advantage of his superior athletic skills. Unlike many athletes, Boldin was successful in the position change, eventually drafted, and has made two Pro Bowls as a wide receiver with the Arizona Cardinals.
Xavier Lee (FSU QB 2004-2007) – Continuing the trend of high school super-stars signing with Florida State, Lee set Florida high school records as a dual running and passing threat prior to arriving at Florida State. On the heels of his success, Lee was considered a five-star prospect according to Rivals.com. Once at Florida State, however, successes were few and far between for Lee. In a quarterback controversy reminiscent of McPherson-Rix, Lee was pitted against less-athletic, more fundamentally sound Drew Wetherford. Although his athleticism was apparent on nearly every play, rumors started of Lee’s inability to comprehend the playbook and deliver the most simplest of passes. It may be impossible to tell, but perhaps Lee never learned how to be an effective quarterback. Perhaps coaches along the way told Lee to run as soon as possible and take advantage of his legs as a weapon on the field. Lee eventually left FSU and signed with the Baltimore Ravens as a tight end, a position he dabbled in during his high school years. According to Wikipedia, he is now playing for the Southern New Hampshire Beavers.
D’Vontrey Richardson (FSU QB 2007-Present) – Another high school dual threat, Richardson is being used by Bobby Bowden and offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher as a possible running quarterback threat and alternate to starter Christian Ponder, a more traditional, “in-the-pocket”, White quarterback.
If the pattern of the last eight years continues at Florida State and DWil’s thesis holds true, Richardson will not succeed. He may have limited college success, but his pro chances will be squandered by a system that teaches him to run at the first sign of trouble. Like DWil, I am eager to watch the coming of E.J. Manuel, not only for his potential ability to lead FSU back to the promise land, but also because he may spell the end of an era of unsuccessful Black quarterbacks at Florida State.