Star quarterbacks Marshyl Rothman and L.J. Thomas can't figure out why colleges aren't knocking
Thursday, October 15, 2009
by Jason Lieser
Marshyl Rothman (left) and L.J. Thomas. (Post photos)
Jupiter Christian's Marshyl Rothman and Glades Central's L.J. Thomas are the only ones who truly understand how the other feels.
They will face each other Friday night in Belle Glade with Rothman looking for a nearly impossible upset and Thomas defending the Raiders' spot as the No. 1 team in the area. Their styles are opposite Thomas stands in the pocket and fires arching missiles downfield; Rothman rolls out frenetically but they have plenty in common.
Last season, Thomas led all players in passing yards and threw 26 touchdowns before breaking his collarbone in the Muck Bowl. Rothman was the area's most accurate passer, an all-state selection and led Jupiter Christian to its second straight state title.
Over the past three seasons, they are a combined 48-2 as starters.
And nobody wants them.
Despite their gaudy résumés, which include impressive starts to this season, neither of these seniors has a college scholarship offer.
"The guys making these decisions cannot be that blind," Glades Central coach Jessie Hester said. "This type of talent is floating out there and nobody's jumping on it?"
Hester's counterpart, Bill Powers, is equally confused.
"I couldn't tell you why L.J. doesn't have any offers," he said. "There are quarterbacks in this area that have offers that I don't think are half the football player he is. Marshyl is better than a lot of kids that have offers, too."
The forgotten man
After a recent Glades Central practice, a group of Raiders stood near the south end of their practice field and chattered excitedly about college visits. Running back Antwon Chisholm, an Oklahoma State commit, mentioned one possible trip and suggested Thomas join him.
Thomas mumbled something about not being invited by the school and walked away dejectedly.
"Sometimes I feel left out because I feel like I deserve a scholarship, too," Thomas said.
He has had conversations with a few schools, including West Virginia, Central Michigan, Florida International and Middle Tennessee State, but none have made offers.
This season, Thomas has completed 53.8 percent of his passes for 1,355 yards and 16 touchdowns against two interceptions.
He is 6-foot-1, 190 pounds and throws a football 50 yards on one knee. Some colleges have told him he needs to improve his throwing mechanics. Others have said he needs to do better at checking down and making crisp passes underneath.
Hester also believes colleges are sending an indirect message that Thomas contributes little to an offense that averages 38 points per game. At least three of his current receivers have BCS school offers and last year he had Rantavious Wooten, who is now at Georgia.
"Not anyone could do this," Thomas said. "Without the teacher the quarterback's like the teacher of the offense the offense doesn't click."
Runner and a passer
Rothman would like to believe he will change minds if he plays well against Glades Central (6-0), but even if the Eagles (5-1, No. 6 Post) pull off a stunner, he does not expect to his cell phone to buzz.
"I've figured it out," he said, tightening his jaw. "There's no one that's really chomping at the bit for me and it's tough."
At 5-foot-8 1/2 and 170 pounds, Rothman is unlikely to pass the eye test for any position but kicker. He also has the Brett Favre gene that makes quarterbacks forsake the obvious play in favor of high-risk, high-reward opportunities.
However, he is an elusive runner who sprints the 40-yard dash in 4.61 seconds and a proven winner. Rothman helped propel the Eagles to 32 straight wins before losing last week.
Only Thomas and Boca Raton's Eddie Sullivan threw for more touchdowns than Rothman's 21 last season, and this year he has completed 56.6 percent of his passes for 973 yards and 10 TDs with just one interception. He also has ran for 339 yards with eight touchdowns.
Rothman is routinely among the top performers at quarterback camps and as a junior he carried Jupiter Christian to second place in the adidas national 7-on-7 tournament.
"That's kind of surprising that they can't see that," Powers said. "I don't expect 100 teams to go after him, but some of these teams have quarterbacks close to the same height, and they're not even calling."
A dozen or so colleges have shown interest in Rothman, including Villanova, Fordham, Wofford and Lehigh, but none have offered.
Coaches are still confident
Both Thomas and Rothman can elevate their status and gain exposure by extending their senior seasons into December.
Hester is confident the offers will come for Thomas once his recent game films the latest of which shows him ripping Boca Raton for 355 yards and four touchdown passes circulate among recruiters.
Likewise, Powers believes Rothman and Thomas won't be ignored.
"If they continue to win, you hope that somebody will eventually take a chance on them, and I think somebody will," Bill Powers said. "You're on a much bigger stage as the year goes on. That's when coaches get a chance to see what you actually do."
Note: For more on Rothman and Thomas, check out PalmBeachPost.com's High School Buzz blog.