What Happened To All The Talented Tidewater Quarterbacks?

Tidewater legends Michael Vick, Marcus Vick and Aaron Brooks were all developed by Tommy Reamon. (Virginia Tech Athletics Photography)

Frank Beamer built a great program at Virginia Tech in the 1990s and 2000s by doing a lot of things well.

We can talk about great special teams, terrific defense and many other factors that led to his success. One of those main reasons was the ability to recruit talented dual-threat quarterbacks, most of which came from the Tidewater region. Guys like Michael Vick, Bryan Randall and Tyrod Taylor will live in Virginia Tech lore forever.

Somewhere along the line, that pipeline dried up, and not just for Virginia Tech. No other schools are signing highly-touted quarterbacks out of the 757 either because those types of quarterbacks don’t seem to exist in that region anymore.

All you have to do is take a look at this graphic done by message board poster QCP that shows 757 quarterback production at Power 5 schools from 1988 through 2020, in terms of total yards…

*Note: The graph ends in 2020, but there hasn’t been any production since then, either.

There was a bit of a lull from 1993-95, but it only lasted three years, and was immediately followed by a lot of years of very good production. Then things fell flat again, and they have not recovered. We’re approaching an entire decade since we saw a 757 quarterback produce at the Power 5 level, which was Clemson’s Tahj Boyd. He last played college football in 2013 and was a member of the 2009 recruiting class.

Before we analyze the situation further, let’s do a quick history of 757 quarterbacks. I could take it all the way back to Kenny Easley, who went from Oscar Smith to UCLA and was the fourth overall pick in the 1981 NFL Draft. However, I think most of us are more familiar with the 1990s through the present, so I’ll start in 1994 and Virginia’s Aaron Brooks. Here are the 757 quarterbacks who signed with Power 5 schools in those years…

1994: Aaron Brooks (UVA)
1998: Ronald Curry (UNC), Michael Vick (VT)
2000: Marques Hagans (UVA)
2001: Bryan Randall (VT)
2002: Marcus Vick (VT)
2007: Tyrod Taylor (VT)
2008: EJ Manuel (FSU)
2009: Tahj Boyd (Clemson), Kevin Newsome (Penn State)
2010: Phillip Sims (Alabama-UVA)
2011: Lafonte Thourogood (Vanderbilt), David Watford (UVA)
2013: Corwin Cutler (UVA)
2022: Ethan Vasko (Kansas)

(Note: I didn’t include high school quarterbacks whom we knew were probably going to play another position in college, such as Bucky Hodges and Greg Boone.)

You can see the huge gap between Cutler in 2013 and Vasko in 2022, and let’s be honest: Kansas barely qualifies as a P5 football program these days. However, the dropoff was starting even before that.

From 1994 through 2009, every quarterback listed, with the exception of  Kevin Newsome, went on to be a quality starter at the P5 level, and some even attained elite status. Brooks had a long NFL career, Curry played in the NFL (albeit as a WR), Michael Vick was the No. 1 pick, Randall was ACC Player of the Year and Marcus Vick was ACC Offensive Player of the Year. Taylor is still in the NFL, Manuel was a first-round