Sam Bradford. Jason White. Brandon Weeden. Josh Fields. What do they all have in common? All quarterbacks. All played for either Oklahoma or Oklahoma State. All are Oklahoman’s. All are among the best passers in their respective program’s history. What if I told you there were more past and present that would be among the best statistically at the bigger programs in the state? Don’t believe me? Then sit back and relax while I introduce you to some of the best passers in the state’s small school ranks and one from Tulsa who is often overlooked. Here are the underrated passers of small school Oklahoma college football.
1. Paul Smith, Owasso, Tulsa 2003-07
Before Dane Evans surpassed him Smith was arguably the greatest statistical quarterback in program history. He arrived on campus as the states all-time leading high school passer with 9,574 yards, since surpassed, and 83 touchdowns while also adding 975 rushing yards and 23 touchdowns. After playing sparingly as a true freshman and a redshirt season Smith never looked back appearing in 34 games with 26 starts. In that time he orchestrated some of the best offenses in program history with his senior season the best of the bunch. He led a unit that averaged 41.1 points per game, sixth nationally, and 543.9 yards per game. Individually he passed for a single-season school record 5,065 yards in 14 games with another single-season record 47 touchdowns. Also during that season, he managed to post the eighth-best single-game passing performance throwing for 454 yards in a 55-47 win over BYU. For his career he left with accolades like;
18 200 plus yard games
Only the third quarterback in school history to pass for over 2,000 yards in two consecutive seasons
Left as the all-time leading passer with 10,936 yards which stood for 11 years
Most touchdown passes in school history with 83 which stood for 11 years
The leader in total offense with 11,602 yards which stood for 11 years
Most total yards in a season with 5,184 that still stands
The leader in total touchdowns with 111 that still stands
The leader in single-season touchdowns with 60 that still stands
2. Chaz Stallard, Cleveland, University of Central Oklahoma 2014-17/ T.J. Eckert, Bixby, University of Central Oklahoma 2013-16
I have a twofer here because you can’t mention one without the other as both are among the best in program history. I’ll start with Stallard as he is the one I had the pleasure of covering in his senior season. He arrived in Edmond having racked up over 9,000 career yards, 6,158 passing and 3,018 rushing for a combined 112 touchdowns. After a redshirt season in 2013, he took the MIAA by storm earning the conference’s Freshman of the Year award and the Oklahoman’s State College Offensive Player of the Year throwing for 2,108 yards and running for a school-record 747 rushing yards by a quarterback. During that season he also led the conference and finished 14th in Divsion II for completion percentage 64.3 percent and got it done in the classroom being named to the MIAA Academic Honor Roll. The following season he played in all 12 games starting five seeding the other five starts to Eckert. He finished with 988 yards and seven touchdowns passing and 439 yards with four touchdowns rushing. He would begin his junior season behind Eckert but took over the starting job against Missouri Southern State leading the offense to 600 total yards of offense. For his part, he threw for 138 yards and a score on 13-of-18 passing but really did his damage on the ground rushing for 136 yards and four scores on 21 carries accounting for five of UCO’s nine touchdowns in a 63-42 win. Finished the season with 941 yards passing and 10 scores while rushing for 408 yards and six scores. When I arrived on campus in January of 2017 all I heard was how good this man was. Even in one of my earlier interviews with head coach Nick Bobeck he couldn’t help but praise him noting several times that “Chaz at times wills us to victory.” Fortunately, I got to witness it first hand as he ended his storied career with an 8-4 season, a bowl win and a six-game winning streak including a 53-52 classic against Emporia State where he tied a single-game record with six touchdown passes. He led an offense that averaged 37.7 ppg and 468.3 ypg. His 3,374 yard 29 touchdown season were both single-season records. He also led in rushing with 618 yards and five scores. When it was all said done Stallard left as;
The schools all-time leading passer with 7,411 yards
All-time leader in touchdown passes with 54
Three of the 10 longest touchdown passes in school history
All-time leader in attempts (993) and completions (628)
Single-season leader in passing yards per game with 281.2 in 2017
Third all-time single-game passing yards with 442 against Emporia State in 2017
Posted 19 career wins
The second man listed was no slouch either. A force on the gridiron and the green Eckert was a two-sport standout having placed second in the Oklahoma Left-handed Golfers Association club tournament his senior season. His best seasons came in 2013 where he threw for 1,336 yards and five touchdowns while splitting time with Adrian Nelson. After sitting behind Stallard in 2014, he claimed the starting job the following throwing for 2,137 yards and 16 touchdowns while adding 262 yards and a score on the ground. Caped off his career in 2016 throwing for 1,972 yards and three touchdowns. His career numbers;
Third all-time leading passer with 5,641 yards
Ninth most yards in a single-season with 2,137 in 2015
Tied for sixth all-time in single-season touchdown passes with 16 during the 2015 season
Eighth all-time in career touchdown passes with 25
Fourth all-time single-game passing with 424 yards against Lindenwood in 2016
3. Brady Wardlaw, Okeene, Southern Nazarene 2008-11
Wardlaw played for the Crimson Storm when they were still a NAIA school. That doesn’t dampen the impact he had on the program. Arriving as an all-state quarterback and being named Oklahoma Athlete of the Year he made the last two starts of his freshman season throwing for 170 yards and two touchdowns. He went on to start every other game of his career throwing for a then school-record 2,846 yards, 11th most in NAIA, and 26 touchdowns. Set a then-school record for passing yards per game at 258.7 with three 300 yard games and a season-high 456 against Olivet Nazarene, a then-school record. No slowing down as a junior finishing second nationally in total offense with 3,818 yards and total offense per game at 347.1. Named Central States Football League Co-Offensive Player of the Year after throwing for 3,515 yards, third nationally, and a school-record 43 touchdowns. He was also the 10th leading rusher in the conference with 303 yards and his eight rushing touchdowns placed him seventh in the conference. If that wasn’t enough he threw for 500 yards twice, a school-record six touchdowns in three different games and a school-record 551 total yards of offense against Northwestern Oklahoma State. Wardlaw finished his career;
Schools all-time leading passer with 9,519 yards
Leader in touchdowns with 107, attempts (1,332), completions (767), yards per game (257.3), completion percentage (57.6), efficiency (137.2), yards per attempt (7.1), sixth in yards per completion (12.4), seventh in rushing yards (856), fourth in rushing attempts (389) and touchdowns (17)
4. Spencer Bond, Madill, East Central 2011-15
If you haven’t seen this man’s highlight video I STRONGLY encourage you to do so (I’ll leave a link at the end of his section). Bond played three different positions for the Tigers, quarterback, safety, and punter. As a redshirt freshman in 2012, he made an impact on both sides of the ball throwing for 1,147 yards and eight touchdowns and finishing second in rushing yards with 340 but led in rushing touchdowns with seven. As a sophomore, he improved throwing for 2,811 yards including a single-game record 450 yards against Arkansas Tech with 23 touchdowns. Second leading rusher with 375 yards and tied for team lead with five touchdowns. Defensively he notched two tackles and 0.5 tackles for loss along with punting seven times for a 31.7 average with two downed inside the 20-yard line. In 2014 he saw a slight dip in yards throwing for 2,274 yards and 16 touchdowns adding 458 yards rushing with a team-high 10 touchdowns. Averaged 35.5 yards per punt with a long of 58 including 15 downed inside the 20. That would be his last year playing quarterback as he switched over to safety full time as a senior finishing second on the team in tackles with 71, one interception, six pass breakups, seven deflections, and two forced fumbles all the while still handling punts averaging 37.4 yards with 11 downed inside the 20-yard line. Oh, he also managed to toss one final touchdown too. He departed with the following school records;
First in career completions (471), yards (6,239) and touchdowns (48)
As you can see there have been some pretty accomplished passers across the lower levels in the state but let’s dive a little further and see where their career numbers stack up against the big boys.
9,519 yards: third in OU history, second in OSU history, third in Tulsa history
107 touchdowns: third in OU history, first in OSU history, first in Tulsa history
7,411 yards: sixth in OU history, seventh in OSU history, 11th in Tulsa history
54 touchdowns: fifth in OU history, sixth in OSU history, fifth in Tulsa history
5,641 yards: seventh in OU history, sixth in OSU history, sixth in Tulsa history
25 touchdowns: ninth in OU history, tied for 10th in OSU history, N/A Tulsa
6,239 yards: seventh in OU history, fifth in OSU history, fifth in Tulsa history
48 touchdowns: sixth in OU history, sixth in OSU history, tied for fifth in Tulsa history
10,936 yards: third in OU history, second in OSU history
83 touchdowns: fourth in OU history, second in OSU history
Finally, I conclude with some small school names to keep an eye out for the rest of the season and beyond.
Keats Calhoon, SO- threw for 575 yards with three touchdowns in four games before suffering an injury. Threw for 12,538 yards and 118 touchdowns in four years at Victory Christian High School in Tulsa
Will Collins, JR- has thrown for 625 yards and five touchdowns in six games. Went 6-1 as a starter last season after transferring from Louisiana Monroe where he played in 11 games over a two-year span throwing a pair of touchdowns as a true freshman. Was a two-star prospect in the class of 2015 according to Rivals holding offers from ULM, Houston, and Rice.
Chandler Garrett, JR- has thrown for 501 yards and eight touchdowns to just one interception in eight games. Is the second-leading rusher with 363 yards and five touchdowns. Led UCO to a 31-21 upset over number four Northwest Missouri State in first career start last season throwing for 274 yards and four touchdowns while leading in rushing with 59 yards. As a senior at Mustang High School led team to a Class 6A state semifinal appearance off of a 2,489 yard 21 touchdown season. Began career at Wyoming after choosing them over Air Force as a two-star prospect in the class of 2016 according to Rivals.
Preston Haire, JR- the only non-Oklahoman on this list Haire leads the Bison in both passing and rushing throwing for 2,268 yards and 21 touchdowns in eight games while running for 513 yards and seven touchdowns. Is Byron Nelson High School (Trophy Club, Texas) all-time leader in passing yards and touchdowns in both a career and single season. Was First-team All-District, Academic All-State honorable mention, and the team and offensive MVP during senior season.