In the Bronze Age of football, players didn’t just stick to one position. Fan favorites like Bronco Nagurski (FB/DT), Sammy Baugh (QB/DB/P), Jim Thorpe (TE/FB/DE/K) and Chuck Bednarik (LB/G) lined up all over the field, playing wherever their talents were needed most.
While this trend has somewhat died off in pro football, the emergence of Taysom Hill with the New Orleans Saints of the NFL has proven that Swiss Army Knife players still belong in the game. His success as a (QB/WR/RB/TE/KR/PR/ST) may seem unprecedented, but the football talent pool is ripe with players who’ve excelled at multiple positions in the past.
Enter Jerrod Heard. The Texas native led his high school team to two straight 4A-DI Championships in 2012 and 2013 as the Quarterback and was rated as the nation’s #2 Dual Threat & 4-Star recruit before committing to play with the Longhorns.
At Texas, he redshirted in 2014 before competing with Tyrone Swoops and starting 10 games in 2015. He established himself as a legit dual-threat, and in just his second game, broke Vince Young’s school record with 527 total yards in a 44-45 shootout vs Jared Goff’s Golden Bears. His freshman year, he finished with 1214 air yards, 561 on the ground and 8 total scores to just 5 picks.
Though he was positioned to start at QB in 2016, a minor shoulder injury that spring saw him fall behind as Tyrone Swoops and Shane Buechele got training camp reps. Over the summer, he began a transition to WR and stayed there for the next two seasons, making 44 catches for 422 yards and 4 scores in a heavy rotation. He also scored twice on the ground in 2017. He may not have had the production expected from him as a star recruit out of high school, but with HC Charlie Strong as the only Texas HC with a losing record since before WWII, program-level instability certainly impacted his career.
In the pre-draft process, he knew that he would have to capitalize on his versatility and willingness to sacrifice for the good of his team, rather than commit to the position he came up at.
“What I got word is that I’ll probably be a utility guy,” said Heard at the Texas Pro Day. “I can do everything — I can play inside or out. Special teams, I’ll have to make my mark there. I’m excited about that and I’m eager to take on that role. I think I’m athletic enough to do anything they ask me to do ” –burntorangenation.com
In addition to versatility all over the field on offense with success at passing, rushing and receiving, he has great physical tools to work with. Listed at 6’1″, 201 he ran a 4.55 40 at his pro day (4.48 low). As a passer, he throws a tight spiral and can drive it over the top into intermediate and deep ranges when needed.
With the ball in his hands, he runs with a quick stride and moves well laterally to beat the edge and take advantage of angles. He’ll need to continue growing his route running tree, with only a couple years experience at WR, but he uses his speed and quickness well to get open and has a knack for making contested catches.
Heard was a Phase 5 draft pick this offseason and was selected by the Dallas Renegades. Bob Stoops and OC Hal Mumme saw his versatile skillset and clearly have a plan in mind for him. He took all his snaps at WR/ST in minicamp, but when starting QB Landry Jones went down last week in training camp, Heard stepped up to the plate.
Since then, he’s been taking snaps as the team’s #2 QB behind Phillip Nelsen while the newly acquired Eric Dungey gets acclimated. Stoops and Mumme see his value as a passer, and though he’ll likely be largely relegated back to WR when Dungey learns the offense, we could very well see him throwing passes for the Renegades.
Per the XFL’s new rules, teams can make two forward lateral passes, so long as the first pass doesn’t cross the line of scrimmage. They can get it to him on a screen to draw defenders while receivers get open downfield, and Heard has the arm talent to take advantage of opportunities like that.
Bob Stoops also ran some crafty reverse pass plays at Oklahoma, and Heard’s multifaceted talents should keep defenses on their toes. Having a utility player like this gives the Renegades a lot of options, and I bet we’ll see some great highlights out of the former Longhorn this season.
Anybody else have to check behind the shower curtain before they go in the bathroom? Nah? ? Denton Guyer's own @SmileHeardJ reveals that and more in the latest in our Get to Know the Renegades! #ForTheLoveOfFootball pic.twitter.com/drWvZB5jn3— Dallas Renegades (@XFLRenegades) January 10, 2020
Seems like he’s comfortable in Dallas, and we’ll see what this season has in store for the hometown hero.
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