Gilmer Rotating Tons of Players in Search of Right Combinations
GILMER -- The past five Gilmer quarterbacks have signed with Division I schools, whether as QBs or another position.
Manuel Johnson (Oklahoma), Jamell Kennedy (SMU), G.J. Kinne (Texas/Tulsa), Stump Godfrey (New Mexico/Navarro), and Luke Turner (Rice) have set high standards for Gilmer's new quarterback, who also must follow Jordan Traylor's footsteps. Traylor replaced an injured Turner in the seventh game of the year in 2011 and threw for more than 2,100 yards in seven games.
Gilmer coach Jeff Traylor said the quarterback spot isn't the only place the Buckeyes are experiencing growing pains. Only two offensive starters are back from last year's 13-1 team, which won the "District of Doom" championship and reached the Class 3A Division II Region II championship game.
"We're a team in transition. We're extremely immature. You can tell by the way we work. We're not a real focused team," said Traylor, who enters his 12th season with the Buckeyes with a 134-22 record. "We're looking for leaders. We had some very good senior leaders last year. It's still early. We've got a lot of moving parts. It's just a transition."
Traylor said the Buckeyes are rotating three quarterbacks, six running backs, nine linemen, and about a dozen receivers, and nobody is getting "preferential treatment" when it comes to reps.
"You don't want to pick 11 kids and develop no depth," Traylor said. "You don't want them to know who they are, even though we might know who they are."
Juniors Tanner Barr (6-1, 175) and Jaidon Parrish (6-0, 180) and sophomore McClane Carter are vying for the starting quarterback job. Barr picked off 10 passes as a sophomore safety. Parrish caught 18 passes for 274 yards and two touchdowns as a sophomore H-back.
Parrish and Carter are left-handers, while Barr is a righty.
"McClane's probably the best pure passer of the three," Traylor said. "Jaidon Parrish is a tough, scrappy kid. He can throw it a little bit and run it a little bit. Tanner can run a lot and his arm's getting better. Tanner and Jaidon, because of their experience of playing on varsity last year, probably feel like they belong a little more than McClane does right now. McClane's kind of trying to find his way. They're all different, but they're all three good high school quarterbacks. Whichever one we go with, we'll be fine."
Traylor pointed to last year's ankle injury to Turner, who was a dual-threat monster for Gilmer's spread offense, as the perfect example of why the Buckeyes prefer to give a lot of reps to multiple players at every position.
Gilmer has far more experience defensively. Seven starters are back, including nose tackle Xavier Fluellen (6-1, 260), linebackers Josh Walker (6-1, 220) and Adam Witcher (5-11, 180), and defensive back Trey Washington (6-1, 180), who has committed to SMU.
Washington said having so many more veterans on defense has helped the Buckeyes during two-a-days.
"Having all those experienced players makes it that much easier," said Washington, who had two interceptions in 2011. "It takes a load off everyone to know you can depend on the person next to you. It just makes everything go smoother."
Gilmer scrimmages at Whitehouse on Friday evening with the varsity starting around 7:15 p.m. First-team units will go 20 plays apiece against each other before second-team units will go 20 plays. Then the first-teamers will return and go 20 more plays apiece. The scrimmage, which will not include a time quarter, concludes with 10 plays apiece by the second-teamers.
Washington wants to see the Buckeyes grow up some.
"I'm really hoping from great communication from the defense. I'm hoping some of our seniors can step up and be leaders and bring some of the underclassmen with them," Washington said. "This is a good time versus different competition to see how good our offense is going to be. We'll just see how it plays out."