When Maryland Crab Bowl officials set out to finalize the Baltimore roster for Monday's second annual senior all-star football game against Washington, they faced a problem they had never seen before: too many quarterbacks.
They were looking at six potential Division I quarterbacks for three roster spots. Not great for them but certainly great for local fans, who, this fall, saw probably the best collection of high school quarterbacks ever to play in the Baltimore area at the same time.
Those seniors - Arundel's Billy Cosh, Century's Josh Bordner, McDonogh's Rudy Johnson, Loyola's Connor Bruns, Edmondson's Jerry Lovelocke and Poly's Antoine Goodson - along with Gilman junior Darius Jennings bring the number of quarterbacks with Division I potential to seven.
Doug DuVall, who retired last fall after 36 years as Wilde Lake's coach, said he can remember only one other year when there were close to that many top-notch quarterbacks.
"Back in the late '70s, there was a year when there were a bunch of quarterbacks. We had Jim Traber [Oklahoma State]," DuVall said. "Back then, we had a lot of good quarterbacks and people ran a lot, but there weren't seven. There were about five or maybe six, but that's the last time I can think of when we had a pile of good quarterbacks."
It's possible that not all seven will end up as Football Bowl Subdivision quarterbacks. A few likely will choose Football Championship Subdivision (formerly known as Division I-AA) programs. One or two could play other positions. But all have gotten looks from Division I programs, and seven guys with that potential is a lot for a single metropolitan area.
"I think that is tremendous for the Baltimore area as it would be for any metro area," said J.C. Shurburtt, an ESPN.com recruiting analyst. "Maybe in Los Angeles you would have that. Possibly in the Miami area, though that's not a great area for quarterbacks. Basically, L.A. would be the only other major metropolitan area where that would probably even be possible. Just because of the position, you don't find a whole lot of good quarterbacks out there. It's very cyclical."
Cosh, Bordner and Johnson, all between 6 feet 2 and 6-4 with strong arms, led the upswing in that cycle.
Cosh holds 11 state passing records - eight of them overall records, three public schools records - and threw for 3,913 yards this season. Bordner passed for 2,082 yards and Johnson for 1,777.
All have committed to Division I programs: Cosh to Kansas State, Bordner to Boston College and Johnson to Buffalo. Cosh and Bordner plan to graduate early and head to college in time for spring practice.
Bruns is a strong passer, too, throwing for 1,392 yards this season. But he arrived at Loyola from North Dakota a little more than a year ago and was a bit late to the recruiting game, Dons coach Brian Abbott said. He is being heavily recruited by several East Coast FCS programs.
Lovelocke, another pocket passer who threw for 1,928 yards this fall, is also being recruited by FBS and FCS programs.
Goodson and Jennings didn't show up among the state's top passing quarterbacks, but they did rank among the leading rushers. Goodson, who suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in the City-Poly game, gained 1,369 yards this fall, and Jennings ran for 2,022. Both could play a handful of positions in college, but Goodson said he wants to be a quarterback and is being recruited by Georgia Tech, which runs the triple-option offense that Poly also runs. Jennings is already getting Division I looks for his explosive running style.
Chris Baucia, who runs The Quarterback Factory training program in Crofton, cites another important asset for playing the position - determination.
"No. 1 is how bad do they really want to do what it takes to become a quarterback? I think that's the toughest part. So many people now are [multiple-]sport guys, which is fine, but when it comes to that position, you really have to be all the way in or all the way out. You have to want to be a master craftsman at everything you do regarding the position no matter what type of quarterback you are," said Baucia, who has worked with Cosh, Bordner and Lovelocke.
Cosh, who threw for a state-record 112 career touchdown passes, spent a lot of time over the summer working with Arundel receiver R.J. Harris to get their routes set and their timing down in an offense that averaged 38 pass plays per game.
"You do what coaches ask you to do, you also do stuff on your own and you work with outside quarterback coaches that try to get you better," said Cosh, who threw 448 passes this season. "If you want to be the best, you've got to work hard, and that's something I strive for every day."
To be a Division I quarterback, you don't have to be a prolific passer such as Cosh. Baucia said there is a place for every style. Some coaches are looking for big, rocket-armed pocket passers while others want more athletic quarterbacks. Some want both.
"They have, you could say, their own menus and they really like to see kids who understand that type of menu," said Baucia, also an assistant coach at DeMatha.
"I think Billy's a little bit ahead of the curve because of the system that he plays in," Baucia said, "but I wouldn't refer to him as a system quarterback, just that he's been playing for a coach that truly believes in letting him make a lot of decisions. The greatest thing about Josh is he's 6-4 and change and he has a major league baseball arm, so when the ball comes out of his hand, he's like a flamethrower. Both of those two have the strongest arms I've seen in a long time."
"Darius is the opposite style. He is as dangerous as any kid in the state. When [DeMatha] played them, it was like a one-man show. He has the potential to take it all the way anytime, and I think people underestimate his ability to throw the ball."
Jennings, who at 6 feet, 180 pounds, is small for a Division I quarterback, could find a home at another position in college. But he could also receive time at quarterback.
"It used to be if you were 5-11 and a quarterback, you had no place in a lot of systems in college," Shurburtt said. "But now, even if a college would rather have a 6-4 pocket passer, they're still going to recruit you and try to sign you because of the Wildcat [offense] and your athleticism, because you can do different things and because that's sort of the direction offenses are going. The more versatility and the more diversity you have, the more effective you're going to be against today's defenses."
There were several reasons behind the proliferation of good quarterbacks this season.
DuVall said contributing factors included opportunities to play all year in seven-on-seven tournaments and the large number of good quarterback coaches, such as Arundel's Chuck Markiewicz, who has coached several state-record setters with an offense that throws the ball a lot.
"I think you're seeing a lot more passing in the high school game nowadays," said Abbott, "and the overall talent in Maryland is getting great exposure, because of the success of players that have previously been recruited."
So who did officials end up picking for the Crab Bowl roster? Cosh, Bordner and Bruns got the three spots on the Baltimore team. But Johnson and Lovelocke will not miss out. Officials determined that the Washington-area teams had no Division I senior quarterbacks this fall, so Johnson and Lovelocke will play for that side along with Taylor Henry from Cambridge-South Dorchester on the Eastern Shore.
"We wanted to put the best six kids in the game," said Chuck Harmon, president and founder of the Crab Bowl. "And this year, all the best quarterbacks were in the Baltimore region."
MARYLAND CRAB BOWL: BALTIMORE VS. WASHINGTON
Monday, 7 p.m. at Towson's Johnny Unitas Stadium Because of the expected snow this weekend, the Crab Bowl has been postponed until 7 p.m. Monday at Towson's Johnny Unitas Stadium.
Baltimore Roster for Monday's Maryland Crab Bowl
No. Name Team Pos.
1 Josh Furman Old Mill DB/RB
2 Ricky Connor Linganore KR/PR
3 Connor Bruns Loyola QB
4 Kevin Johnson River Hill DB
5 Adrian Coxson City WR
6 Marcus Snipes Meade WR
8 Delonte Tate Stephen Decatur DB
9 Ego Ferguson Hargrave (Va.) DE
10 Billy Cosh Arundel QB
11 Bobby Partilla Arundel LB
12 Josh Bordner Century QB
13 Colby Weierbach Linganore LB
14 Josh Alaeze Dunbar DL
15 Nathan Ayers Dunbar DB
17 Andy Johns Hereford K
18 Alex Eckard Linganore P
20 Emmanuel Gbor Eastern Tech ATH
21 Matt Robinson Atholton ATH
22 Nick Forbes Thomas Johnson OLB
23 Kalvin Seamonson Atholton DB
24 Trey Jackson Howard LB
28 Nick Marth Linganore DB
29 Kyle Fuller Mount St. Joseph CB
32 Vince Snarski Loyola RB
34 Willie Williams Hereford RB
40 Zach Zwinak Linganore FB
42 Andre Monroe St. John's (D.C.) DL
44 Jeremy Grove Thomas Johnson LB
50 Devin Clark Dunbar OL
54 Jake McGinnis Joppatowne LB
54 Hussam Ouri Broadneck OL
55 Andy Anderson Linganore OL/DL
56 Forrest Mason Frederick DE
60 Kyle Tucker Linganore OL
67 Christopher Nash Hereford OG
70 Robby Havenstein Linganore OL
70 Sean Rudeau Linganore C
72 Mike Pitz Hereford OL
76 Hansen Barrick Tuscarora OL
77 Ben Cranston Loyola OL
79 Max Coale River Hill OL
80 Teldrick Morgan Meade WR
82 Ryan Dixon Linganore WR
85 R.J. Harris Arundel WR