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August 10, 2005

An early journey

Many prospects don't start receiving national attention and praise for their abilities before their junior season has even begun, but for Texarkana (Texas) High quarterback Ryan Mallett the hype has been slowly increasing for years, turning him into a recruiting veteran seemingly overnight.

It's not just hype that is keeping Mallett's stock shooting through the roof, but rather his 6-foot-6, 235-pound frame and cannon for an arm. College program after college program have already made their interest known to young talent and his super heavy camp schedule this summer gave him a chance to see those schools first hand.

"My goal this summer was to get up there to those camps and check out what each one has to offer," Mallet said about his camp trips that included Michigan, Nebraska, Texas, and Arkansas. "Also, I learned things while I was there that will really benefit me on the field and it was stuff I really wanted to improve on."

One thing Mallett is also improving on is talking recruiting to reporters, coaches, and even family members and friends. His No. 1 goal is to make it to the NFL someday, so some people might venture to guess this is just early practice for stardom.

Well, he may not go that far.

"It's nice, but I try not to let it get to my head," Mallett said about all the attention surrounding his football future. "If you want to be the best, it's something you have to deal with. You've got to get used to it. I've got the feel for it now."

His camp schedule this summer not only allowed him to improve his football skills, but check out a few schools that have already made it clear they will be offering come Sept. 1 before his junior season when he will be eligible to receiver written scholarship offers.

Like usual, Mallett is not ready to tip his hand towards any one school this early in the process. On the other hand, he does seem to mention a few schools on his list that he really benefited from while at camp.

"I learned a lot at the Michigan camp so I guess you could say that one stood out," Mallett said. "They helped me out a lot with a lot of things in my passing technique and I enjoyed myself during the time I spent there."

Many people like to call this one a battle between Arkansas and Texas because of the repeated camp trips to Arkansas and the in-state pressure from the Longhorns. Mallett doesn't see it as that cut and dry.

He just wants to find a place he can succeed in on and off the field, wherever that may be.

"If I go to a school in Washington that can get me to the NFL, then that's where I'll go," he said. "I think that's every kids dream. If you're getting recruited out of high school you know that you probably want to continue your career on at that level."

"My mom is a teacher though, so I know the importance of a good education. If football turns out not to work, I need to get a good education. She's always taught me that."

One thing that will be the key in his recruitment from offers to decision is the relationship he has with the coaching staff at his school of choice. That was one thing he tried to get a feel for this summer at the different camps.

"All the coaches I met, I can relate to," Mallett said. "You can't pick a school if you're not real tight with the quarterback coach. I just know that's something I have to have before I'll make my decision."

"I mean, this is a huge decision. I've got to look at every angle."

Mallett has been a starter for Class 4A Texas High since he began his freshman year. As a sophomore he threw for 2,332 yards and 20 touchdowns.


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