FORT WORTH, Texas -- Preston Dewey was complimented time after time at Saturday's ESPN RISE Elite 11 Regional Quarterback camp at TCU for making smart decisions. But it was a smart decision he made last summer that gave him an opportunity to cement his credentials as one of the best quarterbacks in the Lone Star State.
Fighting for playing time in a system that didn't fit his skills, Dewey transferred from Austin (Texas) Westlake to Austin St. Andrews in July 2010. The decision allowed him to flourish in a passing offense orchestrated by former Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Ty Detmer. The transfer from a public school to a private school also allowed him to gain another year of high school eligibility without jeopardizing his ability to qualify with a Division I school.
"With the conference we're in, there's a rule that you can roll back a year mainly for academics," said Dewey. "A lot of people have done it for football. Brock Mansion at Cal did it, and (Virginia Tech 2012 pledge) T.J. Millweed did it, too."
Dewey has made the most of the decision.
The 6-foot-3, 205-pounder was flawless in virtually everything he did Saturday. Elite 11 camp coach Dan Hawkins praised him for great footwork and mechanics, and his accuracy allowed him to win the camp's Golden Gun Award. Tom Luginbill, ESPN's national director of football recruiting, also raved about Dewey's performance.
"I think just because you might not be a big name on the national scene, it doesn't mean you're not a really good player," Luginbill said. "Dewey's performance [Saturday] proved that. He's got timing, savvy, anticipation, quick release and can make all the throws. The thing that also excites me is that you can tell he's been working a lot under center. We see so many kids that are loaded up in the shotgun and the footwork all of a sudden isn't there. He's really, really good with his drops."
A lot of Dewey's success can be credited to working with Detmer, who took over as the coach at St. Andrews in 2009 after playing in the NFL for 14 years. Detmer played for six different NFL teams during his career, each of them employing a version of the West Coast offense. He's brought that same attack to St. Andrews, and Dewey has thrived in it.
"Coach is one of my biggest critics but at the same time is like one of my buddies," said Dewey, who threw for around 1,500 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2010. "I can joke around with him. We have such a great relationship. He's taught me so much about the game. I've learned more in the past year with him than I have my entire life about football.
"Coming in, I didn't know a whole lot about defenses and reading coverages. I had a basic idea, but he breaks it down like in the NFL coach would, which is going to definitely help me on the next level."
Dewey said he also felt confident Saturday because of the attention he's started to receive from the college coaches. Early in the process he picked up an offer from Southern Miss, but in the last two weeks he's added offers from UCLA, Utah and Wyoming. After performances like Saturday, don't be surprised if more offers develop.
"I'm kind of waiting on North Carolina right now," Dewey said. "I loved that when I went up there. I'm pretty confident I think I can get an offer from them. Bama, LSU, South Carolina, Clemson, Florida State, Arizona State and Arizona are the big ones getting after me right now, so we'll see what happens."
While there isn't a national quarterback like Andrew Luck in Texas this season, the talent pool is still plenty deep and many were at Saturday's camp. Luginbill said he saw good things from passers like Jeremiah Briscoe (Houston, Texas/ Stratford) and Brady Burgin of Highland Park, but Jared Johnson, an athletic quarterback from Grand Prairie (Texas) South Grand Prairie, really caught his attention.
"He's only 6-foot, but there have been an awful lot of spots for 6-foot guys," Luginbill said. "Whether it was Chase Daniel or Todd Reesing, who was below 6-foot, or others like Matt Grothe, this guy here deserves some more recruiting attention than he's getting right now. He's smooth, and he's got a compact and consistent stroke. From snap to snap you see the same solid fundamentals and mechanics. I think that's something that's very impressive."
Abilene, Texas, quarterback Clayton Nicholas was a virtual unknown when he committed to Texas Tech in early March. However, he proved Saturday that Tommy Tuberville knew what he was doing when he offered a scholarship before others. Luginbill and camp coaches said he was easily one of the most athletic players at the event.