Before his selection in the third round of the NFL draft by the Seattle Seahawks, quarterback Russell Wilson had no connection to the West Coast. But that hasn’t stopped coaches and players at Los Angeles Salesian High School from using him as a constant comparison to their own signal caller, Jihad Vercher.
While Wilson was never going to wow anybody with his height -- he checks in at 5-foot-11 -- he was given a chance and made the most of it. That’s all the 5-foot-11, 198-pound Vercher wants.
Vercher was offered by Northern Arizona, the first school to contact him, early in the recruiting process. But that offer was made by the former offensive coordinator, and has yet to be confirmed by the new one.
“I know it’s tough for schools to pick me up because of my height,” Vercher said. “But we think it’s about productivity, not about size.”
The quarterback has certainly been that over the past few months. He lead the Mustangs to a 10-3 record by throwing for 3,281 yards and 38 touchdowns and rushing for 302 yards and 11 more scores. But he has really shone this spring, competing in several camps alongside some of the nation’s best quarterbacks. He attended the Oakland Elite 11 along with Max Browne (Sammamish, Wash./Skyline) and Cooper Bateman (Salt Lake City/Cottonwood) and more than held his own. Last weekend, he attended a camp at San Diego State and received positive feedback from the Aztecs staff.
This spring, coaches from nearly 50 programs across the country visited Salesian High School, and interest in Vercher picked up from more than a few. Minnesota, Iowa State, Arizona, San Diego State and Maryland have all reached out about Vercher.
“They tell me that once one school pulls the trigger it can be like a domino effect,” Vercher said. “They all say they like everything about me: my athleticism, my arm, my accuracy, my smarts and my academics. I’m just waiting for somebody to pull that trigger.”
Schools have broached the subject of a possible position switch for the talented athlete, but Vercher said he isn’t ready to explore that path quite yet.
“For me, it’s quarterback or nothing,” he said.
And while the waiting could take its toll on some, Vercher said he is staying positive.
“It makes me want to work harder,” he said. “I have to stay patient. I have to stay positive. I’m not worried about it. I’m sure I’ll get it soon.”
Vercher plans to attend several more camps this summer, although after performing in front of so many college coaches this spring, he has shifted much of his focus to his senior season.
“Hopefully I can get some offers during the season,” Vercher said of performing with the pads back on. “I want to show them what I can really do.”