SOUTHLAKE -As an early Fox Sports Southwest State 7-on7 tournament descendant, Richard Bartel still enjoys the enthusiasm and participation spike in Texas high school football by now mentoring the growing generation of quarterbacks and receivers of which about 100 attended Under Armour-sponsored QB Ranch at Southlake Carroll this week where Bartel was an instructor.
"Sure I can believe how popular (7-on-7) has become," Bartel said. "I remember being right in the middle of it right as it was taking off. And everyone was thinking the same thing: "How cool is this?"
With the state 7-on-7 tournament this weekend in College Station, Bartel recalls playing at the tournament in its first years. The tournament originated in 1998, when, no surprise here, Southlake Carroll won the first title, led by strong-armed quarterback Nathan Chandler, who would grow into an NFL tight end.
Bartel played in 1999 and 2000 as quarterback of a Grapevine passing offense which had helped lead the Mustangs to state championships in 1996 and 1998. Bartel said he remembers playing against some hot-shot quarterback at Houston Madison named Vince Young. He remembers hard-fought, late-round playoff games against Celina and North Mesquite.
"It was just 7-on-7, but the atmosphere was like games," Bartel said. "I just wish you still got to move into playing the semifinals and finals in Kyle Field. That was pretty special." NCAA rules have moved the 7-on-7 tourney to public parks in Round Rock and Veterans Park in College Station the last two years.
But the effect is in full force. Bartel brought in a Who's Who of Coaches to blossoming players at the QB Ranch. Former NFL quarterbacks Bartel, Jim Zorn, Brad Johnson, Brady Quinn, Jeff Blake, Luke McCown, and Josh McCown. Former NFL receiver Mark Clayton also worked with receivers.
How influential has 7-on-7 become over the last 15 years. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram's Charean Williams did some analysis to find that in the 13 NFL drafts from 1993 until2005, 30 quarterbacks were selected in the first round but none were from Texas.
In the last dozen years, Young went third overall in 2006. Kevin Kolb (Stephenville) went 36th overall in 2007. Matthew Stafford (Highland Park) was the No. 1 overall pick in 2009. Colt McCoy (Jim Ned) was a third-rounder in 2010. Christian Ponder (Colleyville Heritage) was the 12th overall pick in 2011; Andy Dalton (Katy) went 35th overall; Ryan Mallett (Texarkana Texas High) was a third-round pick; and Greg McElroy (Southlake Carroll) was a seventh-rounder.
Andrew Luck led Houston Stratford to the 7-on-7 state tournament four times (2004-07), including the state final against Georgetown at Kyle Field before Luck became the No. 1 pick of the 2012 NFL draft. The No. 2 pick in the draft, Robert Griffin III (RGIII) led Copperas Cove to the 2006 tournament. Big Spring quarterback Ryan Tannehill was the No. 8 pick.