By Jordan Burton (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
There are many talented quarterbacks across our coverage area that features more than 60 teams. Below are some of the top quarterbacks to watch this season
NOTE: Some worthy players may appear on one of our other four football watchlists. A player can only appear on one list.
This watchlist can be found in print in the Fall O-Zone Preview Magazine available this week at all southwest Missouri Casey’s general stores.
Jaris Acklin, MV-BT Liberty, Senior
I’m not sure there’s a better deep-ball thrower in the Ozarks than Acklin. He has a huge arm. You can see the football IQ oozing out with every snap and he also has supreme confidence in his arm. He followed up a strong sophomore season by passing for 2,626 yards and 30 touchdowns. As he matures physically, his game will continue to take off.
Patrick Carlton, Carthage, Junior
As a sophomore, he started just nine games and it didn’t take long for him to make his case as the area’s top QB. He passed for 1,115 yards (66-percent completion) and 14 touchdowns (1 INT). He rushed for 1,354 yards and 21 touchdowns. He’s one of the most-talented dual-threat quarterbacks in the history of O-Zone, with next-level frame and arm talent.
Paxton DeLaurent, Camdenton, Senior
Also a basketball standout, DeLaurent spent his junior season rewriting Camdenton’s record book as a pocket passer. He passed for 3,858 yards and 43 touchdowns and added another seven scores on the ground. Missouri Southern, Evangel and Culver-Stockton offered during the summer. At 6-foot-4 with an athletic frame, he has everything college coaches want.
Cross Elmquist, Kickapoo, Senior
From a pure ability standpoint, you have to love Elmquist’s game. He can make all the throws, runs it well and is a high IQ quarterback. He’s an incredible improviser when a play breaks down and throws darts on the run. Like former Kickapoo QB Anthony Cooper, expect Elmquist to have a breakout senior campaign.
Colby Fields, Lighthouse Christian, Senior
He passes every bit of the eye test. At 6-foot-4, 200 pounds, Fields already has a college-ready frame with a big-time arm. He has a lightning-quick release and scrambles enough to keep defenses honest and make plays downfield. His numbers are Madden-like, passing for 4,2840 yards and 46 touchdowns. He’s a gunslinger.
Zach Jones, Mount Vernon, Senior
He’s not naturally a quarterback, but he’s figured it out quickly. As a junior, he passed for 2,418 passing yards and 22 touchdowns, having four different receivers finish with at least 400 yards. He can beat you from the pocket and with his legs.
Connor Rackley, West Plains, Senior
He’s another live-arm kid who excels in a spread offense. He’s a dual-threat QB, but scrambles more for the purpose of making a play than taking off on the run. As a junior, he completed 68 percent of his passes with 19 touchdowns and just four interceptions. He already holds multiple D2 offers.
Jamen Smith, Buffalo, Junior
Smith has an old-school, Tom Osborne-feel to his game. He’s a run-first quarterback who blends elusiveness with physicality. As a sophomore, he rushed for 1,548 yards and passed for another 1,032 with 36 touchdowns. He might be the only quarterback who doubles as a kick returner. Truly a dynamic player.
Others to Watch
Jackson Beaman, Lincoln, Senior
Hayden Burks, Bolivar, Senior
Reece Dawson, Willard, Senior
Jack Hounsom, Rolla, Senior
Jay Lee, Aurora, Senior
Colten O’Hara, Pierce City, Senior
Preston Richardson, Miller, Senior
Donte Stahl, Lamar, Senior
Blake Tash, Joplin, Senior
Gavin Watts, Glendale, Senior