If college football recruiters looking for quarterbacks that are difference makers have not yet made their way to Seattle, they soon will be.
There are not one, but two up-and-coming QBs in the Pacific Northwest with NFA ties and incredibly bright futures.
Meet Jacob Sirmon and Zach Lewis, who are both preparing for big sophomore seasons at high schools that won state championships in 2014.
Sirmon attends Bothell High School, and the Cougars captured the Washington Class 4A title last season while going 14-0.
Lewis attends Eastside Catholic High School, and the Crusaders went 13-1 last season while winning the Class 3A state championship.
Even though they were freshmen in the fall, Sirmon and Lewis both got playing time with the varsity and they both threw a touchdown pass.
“It was quite similar to what I’ve always been through,” Sirmon said of suiting up with the varsity. “I went through my reads, through my progressions and went through my coaches, so it wasn’t too big of a jump for me.”
Said Lewis: “Getting that varsity experience, just being on the field and in that atmosphere, it was great. I got a feel for what it was like to play varsity, and it’s different than playing freshman and JV.”
Sirmon got most of his snaps with Bothell’s sophomore team last season, and Lewis played for Eastside Catholic’s JV and freshman teams.
“I started for the freshman and JV teams and I got a decent amount of time with varsity,” Lewis said. “I really liked playing for all three teams. I thought playing freshman and JV, it was good for reps and it was good being in game situations because that’s ultimately what I feel will make you better, just getting as many reps in real game-time situations as you can.”
Even while playing for powerhouse programs, Sirmon and Lewis are working to increase their varsity playing time as sophomores.
J.C. Boice, NFA’s Director of Operations and a Senior Level, C4 Certified Coach, has worked with Sirmon and Lewis since they were young quarterbacks. He is not surprised the duo is already getting college attention at such a young age.
“Jacob has ALL the tangibles,” Boice said. “He is tall, athletic, intelligent, coachable and committed. He also has a supportive family that has a very strong football background. I enjoy working with him because he is so advanced for his age. He’s already played at a national level and has shown he is a kid that you want the ball in his hands when a big game is on the line.
“Because Jacob is so gifted and so supported, I think how far he goes is totally up to him. He is a tough-minded, competitive kid that is also faith based. I expect him to go very far, maybe even playing on Sundays far!”
Boice was equally effusive in his praise for Lewis.
“Zach is one of the greatest playmakers I have ever seen or coached,” Boice said. “Watch him play and he will totally remind you of Johnny Manziel. He is a fierce competitor that is self assured and his natural talent warrants the swagger he has. The only thing holding Zach back is he is not a super tall kid. But college programs that overlook him because of his shorter status will come to regret it. Zach is a winner and can make all the throws.”
Sirmon, who is nearly 6-foot-4 and 210 pounds, comes from a football family. His father, David, played college ball at Montana, where he was a linebacker. Both of his grandfathers played college football, and so did five of Jacob’s uncles. One of them, Peter Sirmon, coaches at the University of Southern California.
“Having good size, it’s to my benefit,” Jacob Sirmon said. “It gives me an advantage in the pocket as well as outside. I’m a little harder to bring down and it gives me a good vision of the field. And I have so much support between my dad and my uncle and all my other male relatives that have been through this process before. It’s quite a blessing to have them to talk this through with.”
Jacob Sirmon is already drawing interest from big-time schools like USC, UCLA, Stanford, Washington and Cal.
He was also selected to attend the NFL Player Prep Academy, where 44 freshmen are flown to Philadelphia with a guardian at no expense for four days of leadership training, meeting with Hall of Fame players and other football activities.
Jacob Sirmon is handling all of the early success and attention with veteran poise. “I have so much support around me,” he said. “My head coach, Tom Bainter, he’s great and I run a lot of things through him, as well as my father and God. I feel like with my success, there’s always ups and downs so you kind of just take it as it runs. I think if you keep grinding and keep working, good things will happen. I really feel like I’m blessed with my success so far and I continue to hope to succeed.”
Will Hewlett weighs in
Will Hewlett, who trained Sirmon with NFA and at The Range, is not surprised that the Class of 2018 product is already on such a fast track.
“If you thought about how to construct a quarterback to play the game, Jacob is what you’d look at,” Hewlett said. “He’s got all the pieces physically and mentally. He doesn’t play quarterback like a prima donna. He’s not afraid to lower his shoulder and knock a kid over. He’s very aggressive on the field and he’s big enough and strong enough to make all the throws. Extremely high football IQ.”
While Sirmon is already a big, strong QB, Lewis squeezes every ounce of skill out of his 6-foot, 180-pound frame.
“I can extend plays and make plays,” Lewis said. “I feel that’s one of my best attributes. I feel like that’s a trademark of my game. I can sit in the pocket and throw it, but when it breaks down I can make things happen. I’ll get out of the pocket and make stuff happen.”
Lewis’ incredible knack for making players impresses Hewlett as much as Boice.
“Zach is probably one of the most creative players on the field that I’ve ever coached,” Hewlett said. “He’s one of those kids that always comes up clutch in the moment. He’s just a smooth player. He’s not lightning quick, but he makes people miss and he avoids pressure as good as anyone. He has very recruitable traits for a quarterback. He doesn’t get rattled at all.”
Training with Boice, Hewlett and NFA has helped Sirmon and Lewis develop into standout quarterbacks.
“I really credit NFA with a lot of different things,” Sirmon said. “They were kind of the first that worked with me on fundamental throwing techniques and that really kind of started me off on my path. I’ve done their camps as I’ve grown and they’ve helped me quite a bit as I’ve matured.”
Said Lewis: “NFA was really good for getting the general idea of everything together. They really helped me put the foundation in. They got me to the point where now I can work on the smaller details.”
‘Magic and Larry’
Living in the same area often allows Sirmon and Lewis the opportunity to work together. Not only are they friendly competitors, they push each other to become better quarterbacks.
“I think Zach and Jacob are lucky to be in the same area,” Boice said. “I have told them, ‘Iron sharpens iron,’ and it is rare to have two such highly talented QBs that are the same age from the same place. I think in a few short years they will look back and be very glad they got to compete against each other. They are like Magic Johnson and Larry Bird!”
While they are physically different and play with different styles, Sirmon and Lewis do bring out the best in each other.
“It’s such a blessing to be able to work with Zach on the weekends or whenever we have a chance to work out together,” Sirmon said. “He’s a great competitor, an awesome quarterback and I really respect him and what he’s been doing. It’s really great for us to be able to push each other to be even better. It’s just fun to compete.”
“Me and Jacob have a good relationship,” Lewis said. “We compete to make each other better. It’s not like a fight; we’re not trying to make each other look bad. I honestly feel there are so many D-I colleges that are looking for quarterbacks and me and Jacob have completely different styles of play. If colleges like his style of play they’ll go for him. If they like my style of play they’ll go for me. I think it’s good that we’re pushing each other to make each other better.”