ARLINGTON, Texas – Among all the hugs Jerrod Heard received from friends and family on Saturday afternoon, one was more meaningful than most.
Oklahoma State quarterback J.W. Walsh found him on the Cowboys Stadium sidelines after Denton Guyer’s state title victory and offered his proud congratulations.
The former Guyer star had to respect the feat Heard had pulled off, since it was one he himself couldn’t achieve in his high school days – take the Wildcats to Cowboys Stadium for the state championships and finish the job.
“It made my day when I saw him,” Heard said. “I honestly wanted to play harder because he was here.”
It was a significant, fitting honor for a quarterback who won’t ever have to play in Walsh’s shadow again. After a day that put Heard’s maturation on display in front of a national TV audience, there’s no doubt he has more than made a name for himself.
The junior quarterback and 2014 Texas pledge did it all in a 48-37 win over Georgetown to take the Class 4A-1 state championship.
Heard rushed for 143 yards and five touchdowns and added 189 passing yards and two more touchdowns, accounting for every Guyer score to earn game offensive MVP honors and even a shout-out on Twitter from Johnny Manziel.
To do all that, he needed to overcome a slow start. After a steady first quarter and a far more shaky second– most of which Guyer coach John Walsh took the blame for, citing his own playcalling – Heard brought his best in the second half.
Georgetown jumped ahead 30-14 with 8:28 left in the third quarter. Didn’t worry Heard one bit.
He answered by engineering four consecutive touchdown drives. Three ended in Heard touchdown runs, including a 5-yard run in which he trucked a defender at the goal line.
That called for a rare celebration – Cam Newton’s signature Superman move – from the usually calm junior.
“It was definitely a day I needed to show emotion,” he said. “It’s a state championship game. We got on top and I did something I usually don’t do. It was a great feeling.”
The confidence and momentum never subsided from there. Heard kicked off the fourth quarter with a 71-yard bomb to Ellis Jefferson to go ahead 41-30, then put the game away for good with his fifth touchdown run.
After the win, Heard reiterated he’s not wavering in his commitment to Texas despite the departure of co-offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin to Arkansas. He’s excited to play for Major Applewhite when he eventually gets to Austin.
“It’s a good thing,” Heard said. “Coach Applewhite, he played at the University of Texas. You can’t ask for anything better than that -- for someone who played there to become offensive coordinator and quarterback coach. That’s pretty cool.”
Heard gave a Texas fan base desperate for a new star quarterback plenty to salivate about on Saturday.
He rushed for 2,138 yards and 35 touchdowns this season. He threw for 2,090 yards on 62-percent passing with 17 more touchdowns. And he’s got one year left.
“The juniors that were sitting there and didn’t get to play, they were whispering, ‘Can you get us one?’ ” Heard said.
After what he did on Saturday, it’s hard to rule out anything in Heard’s future.