Posted by Tony Caridi on Wednesday, April 1, 2009
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On September 5th, if everything goes as expected, West Virginia University quarterback Jarrett Brown will jog onto Mountaineer Field as the starting quarterback. When Brown takes that first snap against the Flames of Liberty, he will join a very exclusive fraternity. The heavily muscled and heavily patient signal-caller is about to become just the third first-year senior starting quarterback in the last 25 years.
Can you name the other two?
More importantly, does their performance give us insight into what we should expect for the upcoming season?
For the record, the only other first-year senior starters at WVU during the last 25 years are Kevin White (1984) and Greg Jones (1990). A review of their statistics as both reserves and in their starting seasons reveals some interesting information.
Kevin White appeared in 14 games in three reserve seasons before becoming WVU’ s starter in 1984.
As an understudy to both Oliver Luck and Jeff Hostetler, White completed 54 of 111 attempts with four touchdown passes and four interceptions. As a rusher, White was not a threat. He had 72 career carries for negative-99 yards with one touchdown.
In his first and only season as a starter, White threw nine touchdown passes and was intercepted six times in guiding the Mountaineers to an 8-4 record and a victory over Texas Christian in the now defunct Bluebonnet Bowl.
As a senior, White completed 182 of 343 passes. That’s a completion percentage of 53 percent - a five percent improvement from his previous three seasons as a reserve.
Greg Jones, who transferred to WVU from Miami, spent two seasons as a back-up to Major Harris before taking over as the starter for the 1990 season.
Jones appeared in 11 games as a sophomore and junior, completing 24 of 58 passes (41 percent) with four touchdowns and three interceptions. Like White, Jones was not a running threat; he ended his career with 62 carries for 42 yards and two touchdowns.
||Jarrett Brown has appeared in 24 career games and has accounted for 1,511 yards of total offense.
All-Pro Photography/Dale Sparks photo
As a senior starter Jones struggled. He completed 121 of 247 passes (48 percent) while throwing seven touchdowns and nine interceptions. Although his completion percentage increased by seven points his touchdown-to-interception ratio decreased. The Mountaineers finished with a 4-7 record, only the school’s second losing season in 11 years.
In fairness to Jones, it should be noted that he quarterbacked a team that was in a rebuilding mode. WVU had an unprecedented 15 players drafted by NFL teams during the previous two seasons. To underscore the lack of experience - and perhaps talent - not a single player was drafted from that 1990 team. To compound matters, the Mountaineers struggled defensively, giving up 24 points in the opener to Kent State and allowing nearly 22 points per game that year. Jones was a quality person, who like Brown, had the unenviable task of replacing the school’s all-time greatest quarterback. Jones took over for the Maj while Brown is replacing Patrick White.
Kevin White was surrounded by significantly more talent than Jones, including future NFL Pro Bowler Ron Wolfley at fullback, nine-year NFL wide receiver Willie Drewrey, and the school’s all-time leading field goal kicker Paul Woodside. Future NFL first round pick Brian Jozwiak was White’s starting right tackle. Keep in mind, too, that West Virginia also had an outstanding defense in ‘84 and an offense designed to play to the strength of the defense.
A look at Jarrett Brown’s three years backing up White shows that he is much more experienced than White and Jones, and a much more proficient passer. Brown has played in 24 games, including two starts. The West Palm Beach, Fla., resident has completed 81 of 125 attempts (64 percent) with five touchdowns and four interceptions. As a rusher, he has glided for 671 yards on 117 carries (six yard average) while scoring seven touchdowns.
Brown has already played in 25 games, which is the combined total of games that White and Jones had participated in before taking over as the starter. Brown’s completion percentage is also significantly better than the other one-year starters. West Virginia is also expected to have a very strong defense returning in 2009.
So what does this all mean for Jarrett Brown and the fate of the 2009 Mountaineer football season? When it comes to wins and losses, perhaps the most salient nugget of information is that the 1984 team led by White succeeded because it had better overall talent than Jones’ 1990 squad. Although the success or failure of a team is often shouldered by a quarterback, the true value of a team is better reflected by its overall talent level.
The question that needs to be asked, then, is how many members of this current Mountaineer team will play professionally? Who on the 2009 Mountaineer roster will be drafted this time next year? Remember, the 1990 squad didn’t have a single player chosen in the spring draft of 1991, while the ‘84 team had three players chosen.
Sure, a quarterback is important, but history tells us the talent surrounding Jarrett Brown may be just as important. And, keep this in mind: Jarrett Brown may be one of the Mountaineers who get his name called in the 2010 draft. He has the physical attributes (6-feet-4 and 221 pounds) and with continued improvement, NFL scouts may become interested. One mock draft already tabs him as the 12th best quarterback, which is pretty impressive considering he’s only thrown 125 passes during his career.
Only two Mountaineers in 25 years have been first-year senior starters and analyzing their statistics is interesting but far from prophetic.
However, with the return of four of the team’s five top rushers, and four of its top five pass catchers, Brown and the Mountaineers would appear to be positioned to enjoy more success than both Kevin White and Greg Jones did during their senior years.