Chase Wasson had a remarkable senior season, quarterbacking Southlake Carroll to a perfect 16-0 record and the Class 5A Division II state championship.
But in the eyes of the Division I college coaches, Wasson came up a bit short.
They didn’t see his 4,822 passing yards, although it was the most any Texas high school quarterback has ever thrown for. Instead, they saw 5-11.
They didn’t see that he completed 66 percent of his passes. They only saw 5-11.
They didn’t see his 54 passing touchdowns, another state record. They just saw 5-11.
They didn’t notice that he also ran for 1,062 yards and 14 touchdowns. They were too focused on 5-11.
So when recruiting time rolled around, all the big schools had to offer the 5-11, 180-pound Wasson was a chance to walk on and prove himself. But, if he hadn’t proved himself with a 16-0 record, 5,884 yards worth of offense and 68 touchdowns, what could he do?
Wear elevator shoes?
“College coaches are hung up on what a kid looks like. They look at size and height instead of kids who make plays,” Southlake Carroll coach Todd Dodge said. “It’s really ridiculous. If Chase were 6-1, he would have been recruited by a whole lot of Division I people. And I doubt those two inches would make him that much a better football player.”
Dodge, once himself an undersized quarterback at the University of Texas, calls the whole evaluation process of quarterbacks “an inexact science.” He points to NFL quarterbacks like Rich Gannon, Kurt Warner and Jay Fielder as just a few examples.
Wasson, the Class 5A player of the year in 2002, admitted the recruiting snub was “frustrating.”
“It’s a weird process,” he said. “Colleges look at the physical attributes. They don’t really look at what you do on the field or what you’re really like. They don’t look at heart and all that other stuff. It’s mainly if you look the part, you’re theirs.”
In the end, Wasson became Southwest Texas State’s. He now looks forward to proving himself again at this Division I-AA school.
Before that, he will put his skills on display in the 66th Oil Bowl football game Saturday night at Memorial Stadium. He will join with Dodge and three of his Southlake Carroll teammates to try to give the Texas all-stars a third straight win over Oklahoma.
Although his high school coach will be his offensive coordinator in the Oil Bowl, Wasson will most likely get only half the snaps. That’s because Texas has another talented quarterback in Denton Ryan’s James Battle, the Class 4A player of the year. Both Wasson and Battle are a perfect fit for Dodge’s no-huddle, shotgun offense.
“I’ll probably alternate them every two series,” Dodge said.
It won’t be the first time Wasson has been on a team with another talented quarterback. Although he had been a quarterback at Class 3A Liberty Hill as a sophomore, he had to switch positions to get playing time when he moved to Southlake. That’s because the Dragons were winning with Ricky Lay as their quarterback.
As a junior, Wasson played wide receiver for the first 10 games of the season. He moved to running back for the first playoff game against Wichita Falls and stayed there for the rest of the season.
“It was tough not being under center my junior year, but it worked out for the best because I became a lot better runner playing running back. And playing wide receiver helped me realize what those guys were going through as far as what the corners looked like, what the defensive backs were like,” he said.
Wasson’s first start at quarterback for Carroll came against Irving a year ago. The Dragons won 35-7.
No other team in the regular season would get that close. Things got tougher in the playoffs but Wasson and his team kept winning, finally dusting off Smithson Valley 45-14 in the state championship game.
But through it all, the big-college coaches could see only one thing – 5-11.
Sports Editor Nick Gholson can be reached before 4 p.m. weekdays by calling (940) 720-3447 or 1-800-626-1646 (ext. 447). Or you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.