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  • Manny Crisostomo / mcrisostomo@sacbee.com

    Grant quarterback Donovan Brown, 5-foot-9 and 160 pounds, joins his offensive linemen at practice.

  • Manny Crisostomo / mcrisostomo@sacbee.com

    Donovan Brown is "a sharp kid," his coach, Mike Alberghini, says.

Preps Plus: Small QBs still measure up

Published: Thursday, Sep. 12, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1C
Last Modified: Thursday, Sep. 12, 2013 - 5:27 pm

The read option or some variation of the spread offense is all the rage in football these days. You see it from high schools all the way up to the NFL.

But old-school football, with the quarterback taking the snap directly under center, still has plenty of appeal.

In the Sacramento region, these throwback offenses are being used successfully by three highly ranked teams: No. 3 Pleasant Grove, No. 5 Grant and No. 7 Burbank. Each is led by a quarterback who embraces his role – and the expectations that come with it – and accepts that he's not considered a college prospect at the position.

Using a pro-set, senior Dre Terrell has been key to Pleasant Grove's 2-0 start, including a 14-12 victory over Burbank on Friday. Burbank (1-1), led by option-attack senior quarterback Ernest Jenkins, visits Grant (2-0) on Friday. The Pacers use a pro-set featuring a towering line that protects junior quarterback Donovan Brown.

Terrell, Jenkins and Brown are all under 6 feet, diminutive yet dangerous. And all three have been told their size is keeping colleges from offering them scholarships at quarterback, though not for other positions such as cornerback.

"Little guys like this, they play with heart, and I'll take those kind of kids any day," Grant defensive coordinator Reggie Harris said.

Ask teammates who the toughest players are on their teams and they point to Terrell (5-foot-7, 175 pounds), Jenkins (5-11, 185) and Brown (5-9, 160).

"I appreciate the small quarterback because they hear it all the time: 'Oh, not big enough,' " Terrell said. "We use that as motivation. We don't like hearing that. We can play."

Burbank coach John Heffernan raves about Terrell, calling him "an awesome talent." Heffernan is equally impressed with Burbank's next opponent, saying Brown "gives Grant a whole different element with the pass."

And, Heffernan said, "all make good decisions. It's how fast can you process the information and execute it, and they do."

Here's a closer look at these three quarterbacks:

Dre Terrell

Terrell, who expects to play cornerback in college, has received interest from Sacramento State and Cal Poly. But he's in no hurry to end his senior season.

"I'm having fun," Terrell said. "I love being a leader, and I learned a lot from watching other quarterbacks, setting the tone, how much energy is needed and how you practice is how you play."

Terrell's father, Derrick, played football and baseball at Cordova in the 1980s when the Lancers were a local power, and the debate rages at home over who the best athlete is.

"Me," Dre insisted.

Said Pleasant Grove coach Joe Cattolico: "He's been a pleasure. He's really coachable, and he competes as hard as anybody."

Donovan Brown

Brown grew up in Del Paso Heights admiring his Grant football heroes.

His father, Donald Dyc, was a center for the Pacers 30 years ago.

"I really love being here, being the Grant quarterback," Brown said. "I couldn't wait for this. I like having the ball in my hands, competing, and spreading the ball around. It's on me for us to do well.

"And in this part of town, everyone knows their Grant players. They'll let you know when you're doing well, or when you're not. I like that, too."

Brown showed his moxie in a scrimmage against Whitney when he bowled over a defender seemingly twice his size on a keeper.

"Donovan's still learning, but he's a sharp kid, and he's got some swagger," Grant coach Mike Alberghini said. "Sometimes it's good to have a quarterback with a little bit of that. We have one."

Ernest Jenkins

Jenkins can do one of several things when he takes the snap and rolls out: run, pitch out or pass.

"We're even doing a little more shotgun, too, and that's fun," Jenkins said. "I'm always learning in this offense. It's important to know when to pitch or keep. I know a lot of it is on me, but that's a great role."

Jenkins has received recruiting interest from Washington State and Arizona State, among others, to play in the secondary or at wide receiver.

For now, he wants to get his Titans back on a roll.

"When Ernest is on, he's on," Heffernan said. "Then it's, 'Oh, wow.' "

Follow Joe Davidson on Twitter @SacBee_JoeD, check out his PrepsPlus Insider every Monday at blogs.sacbee.com/preps and listen to his "Extra Point" every Wednesday on ESPN Radio 1320.

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

Read more articles by Joe Davidson



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