NFL Starting QBs Who Played High School Football in Texas

It’s been said countless times, but it’s true: high school football is different in Texas. It’s way more intense than anywhere else in the country even to the point that it resembles a sub-collegiate level of football to the fine folks in the Lone Star State. Want proof? On average, at least 25 percent of the starting quarterbacks in the NFL each year played their high school ball in Texas. Put simply, pro-caliber signal-callers are bred in Texas better than they are in any of the other 49 states.

Drew Brees: Austin Westlake

Drew Brees: Austin Westlake Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Most folks have no idea Drew Brees played his high school football near the state capital in Texas. In fact, Brees actually came from a family of elite Texas athletes and he was reportedly named after Cowboys legendary receiver Drew Pearson. He lived up to the name/hype by leading Westlake High School to an undefeated state championship season in 1996, the same year he was selected as the Most Valuable Offensive Player in Class 5A, then the largest in the state. He wanted to attend Texas or Texas A&M, but only received scholarship offers from Purdue and Kentucky.

Most folks have no idea Drew Brees played his high school football near the state capital in Texas. In fact, Brees actually came from a family of elite Texas athletes and he was reportedly named after Cowboys legendary receiver Drew Pearson. He lived up to the name/hype by leading Westlake High School to an undefeated state championship season in 1996, the same year he was selected as the Most Valuable Offensive Player in Class 5A, then the largest in the state. He wanted to attend Texas or Texas A&M, but only received scholarship offers from Purdue and Kentucky.

Nick Foles: Austin Westlake

Nick Foles: Austin Westlake Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
Westlake gets the most love here because it's the only school to feature two players on this list. Nick Foles broke many of Drew Brees' passing records (5,600 yards and 56 touchdowns) at Westlake during two years as a starter while leading his team to a state championship appearance against nationally-ranked Southlake Carroll. Foles was recruited by Georgetown, Baylor and Texas to play basketball, but wasn't offered a scholarship to play football at any college in Texas despite being recruited by Texas Tech and UTEP. He ultimately took a scholarship offer from Arizona.

Westlake gets the most love here because it's the only school to feature two players on this list. Nick Foles broke many of Drew Brees' passing records (5,600 yards and 56 touchdowns) at Westlake during two years as a starter while leading his team to a state championship appearance against nationally-ranked Southlake Carroll. Foles was recruited by Georgetown, Baylor and Texas to play basketball, but wasn't offered a scholarship to play football at any college in Texas despite being recruited by Texas Tech and UTEP. He ultimately took a scholarship offer from Arizona.

Andrew Luck: Houston Stratford

Andrew Luck: Houston Stratford Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports
Most folks don't know that Andrew Luck grew up in Europe before moving to Houston, where he played football at Stratford High School. Naturally, he was a star, throwing for over 7,000 yards and 53 touchdowns while rushing for over 2,000 as well. He was recruited by pretty much every powerhouse college football team in the nation except Texas, but he narrowed his list based on the engineering programs of the schools and ultimately chose Stanford. That worked out well for him academically and athletically.

Most folks don't know that Andrew Luck grew up in Europe before moving to Houston, where he played football at Stratford High School. Naturally, he was a star, throwing for over 7,000 yards and 53 touchdowns while rushing for over 2,000 as well. He was recruited by pretty much every powerhouse college football team in the nation except Texas, but he narrowed his list based on the engineering programs of the schools and ultimately chose Stanford. That worked out well for him academically and athletically.

Andy Dalton: Katy

Andy Dalton: Katy Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports
It's hard to believe, but Andy Dalton only started one full season at quarterback for Katy High School, but he made the most of it. After taking over midway through his junior season, Dalton led the Tigers to a 14-1 record and an appearance in the 5A DII state championship game as a senior. During that 2005 season, Dalton threw for 2,877 yards and 42 touchdowns. Memphis and UTEP were the only two schools to offer Dalton a scholarship until he made an unannounced visit to TCU, where he won over head coach Gary Patterson and ended up becoming the then-winningest quarterback in college football history during his Horned Frogs career.

It's hard to believe, but Andy Dalton only started one full season at quarterback for Katy High School, but he made the most of it. After taking over midway through his junior season, Dalton led the Tigers to a 14-1 record and an appearance in the 5A DII state championship game as a senior. During that 2005 season, Dalton threw for 2,877 yards and 42 touchdowns. Memphis and UTEP were the only two schools to offer Dalton a scholarship until he made an unannounced visit to TCU, where he won over head coach Gary Patterson and ended up becoming the then-winningest quarterback in college football history during his Horned Frogs career.

Matthew Stafford: Highland Park

Matthew Stafford: Highland Park Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports
Everything went perfectly for Matthew Stafford during his childhood as his family moved to Dallas in time for him to attend Highland Park high school. He didn't do well as a starter in his junior season, but he then quit baseball to focus on football and it worked: he threw for over 4,000 yards in his senior season while leading the Scots to an undefeated 15-0 state championship season, including playoff wins over Ryan Mallett's Texarkana Texas High School and Jevan Snead's Stephenville High School. Stafford is the only quarterback on this list to receive a scholarship offer from the University of Texas, but he chose his father's alma mater, Georgia, over Texas and a slew of others.

Everything went perfectly for Matthew Stafford during his childhood as his family moved to Dallas in time for him to attend Highland Park high school. He didn't do well as a starter in his junior season, but he then quit baseball to focus on football and it worked: he threw for over 4,000 yards in his senior season while leading the Scots to an undefeated 15-0 state championship season, including playoff wins over Ryan Mallett's Texarkana Texas High School and Jevan Snead's Stephenville High School. Stafford is the only quarterback on this list to receive a scholarship offer from the University of Texas, but he chose his father's alma mater, Georgia, over Texas and a slew of others.

Ryan Tannehill: Big Spring

Ryan Tannehill: Big Spring Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports
Things were a lot different for Ryan Tannehill, whose career at Big Spring High School resembled that of his Texas A&M career. He wasn't a five-star recruit and he didn't always play quarterback -- he switched to signal-caller as a junior and never threw for more than 1,400 yards in a season and never won a state title. But unlike the other players on this list, he received scholarship offers from multiple schools in Texas besides the Aggies: Houston, TCU and UTEP. He was also recruited by Texas Tech and received offers from New Mexico State and Tulsa.

Things were a lot different for Ryan Tannehill, whose career at Big Spring High School resembled that of his Texas A&M career. He wasn't a five-star recruit and he didn't always play quarterback -- he switched to signal-caller as a junior and never threw for more than 1,400 yards in a season and never won a state title. But unlike the other players on this list, he received scholarship offers from multiple schools in Texas besides the Aggies: Houston, TCU and UTEP. He was also recruited by Texas Tech and received offers from New Mexico State and Tulsa.

Josh McCown: Jacksonville & Johnny Manziel: Kerrville Tivy

Josh McCown: Jacksonville & Johnny Manziel: Kerrville Tivy Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

These two are together since it's uncertain who will start for the Browns from week to week.

McCown threw for 30 touchdowns and only nine interceptions as a senior at Jacksonville, earning him district Offensive Player of the Year and all-state honorable mention honors. He played fairly well in three years at SMU before setting the woods on fire as a senior at Sam Houston State.

Manziel threw for 7,500 yards and 75 touchdowns while rushing for over 4,000 and 78 scores in two and a half years as the starter at Tivy High School. He wanted to attend Texas, but got offers from basically everyone but the Longhorns and ultimately chose Texas A&M. Needless to say, that worked out well.

These two are together since it's uncertain who will start for the Browns from week to week.

McCown threw for 30 touchdowns and only nine interceptions as a senior at Jacksonville, earning him district Offensive Player of the Year and all-state honorable mention honors. He played fairly well in three years at SMU before setting the woods on fire as a senior at Sam Houston State.

Manziel threw for 7,500 yards and 75 touchdowns while rushing for over 4,000 and 78 scores in two and a half years as the starter at Tivy High School. He wanted to attend Texas, but got offers from basically everyone but the Longhorns and ultimately chose Texas A&M. Needless to say, that worked out well.

Ryan Mallett: Texarkana Texas

Ryan Mallett: Texarkana Texas Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Mallett was an absolute stud at Texas High School, throwing for almost 8,000 yards and 72 touchdowns in three years as the starter. He played against Matthew Stafford's Dallas Highland Park three years in a row in the playoffs while earning the No. 2 ranking among high school passers in the nation. Mallett was offered by Texas and other powerhouses outside of the state, but ultimately chose Michigan. After a year there, he transferred to Arkansas where he threw for 7,500 yards and 62 touchdowns in two seasons.

Mallett was an absolute stud at Texas High School, throwing for almost 8,000 yards and 72 touchdowns in three years as the starter. He played against Matthew Stafford's Dallas Highland Park three years in a row in the playoffs while earning the No. 2 ranking among high school passers in the nation. Mallett was offered by Texas and other powerhouses outside of the state, but ultimately chose Michigan. After a year there, he transferred to Arkansas where he threw for 7,500 yards and 62 touchdowns in two seasons.

Derek Carr: Sugar Land Clements

Derek Carr: Sugar Land Clements Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports
We admit Carr's name should have an asterisk next to it on this list because he's from Fresno, Calif. but his family moved to Sugar Land, Texas when his older brother, David, was selected No. 1 overall by the Houston Texans in the 2002 NFL Draft. At Clements High School, Derek earned the starting job as a sophomore because of an injury to the older incumbent. He threw for over 3,000 yards and 28 touchdowns in two years and got offers from Fresno State, SMU and Utah before transferring to Bakersfield Christian High School in California for his senior year.

We admit Carr's name should have an asterisk next to it on this list because he's from Fresno, Calif. but his family moved to Sugar Land, Texas when his older brother, David, was selected No. 1 overall by the Houston Texans in the 2002 NFL Draft. At Clements High School, Derek earned the starting job as a sophomore because of an injury to the older incumbent. He threw for over 3,000 yards and 28 touchdowns in two years and got offers from Fresno State, SMU and Utah before transferring to Bakersfield Christian High School in California for his senior year.