COLUMBIA — To hear Marvin Zanders tell it, the offense he directs at Raines High School in Jacksonville, Fla., is a variation of Oregon’s uber-popular no-huddle spread, one that features plenty of zone read and power run elements.
By TEREZ A. PAYLOR
The Kansas City Star
But while it would certainly be accurate to say Zanders, a quarterback who became Missouri’s 17th commitment for the Class of 2014 on Friday night, is perfectly comfortable running the football, he actually yearns for the day when he’ll be able to throw more.
“I’m very confident in my throwing ability,” said Zanders, who is listed as a three-star prospect by Rivals, ESPN and 247Sports. “I tell my coach all the time, we need to throw the ball more because we have some really good receivers and if you get guys in space, we can beat anybody.”
Not that Zanders didn’t throw as a junior last year at Raines, which he led to an 8-3 record in Florida Class 4A, the state’s fifth-biggest classification. According to MaxPreps, Zanders completed 128 of 210 passes for 1,839 yards, 18 touchdowns and nine interceptions in 11 games. He also rushed 62 times for 416 yards and four touchdowns on a team that ran the ball 263 times but threw it just 212 times.
“We don’t air it out as much as Mizzou,” Zanders said.
Zanders, who said he recently checked in at 6 feet 2 and 182 pounds and ran a 4.48 40-yard dash at a Florida State camp in July, also had offers from Duke, Georgia Tech, Iowa State, Kentucky and Wake Forest, among others.
He said he fell in love with Missouri because of its offense, not to mention its penchant for producing pros.
“I like the wide-open offense,” Zanders said. “I’ll have four wides and can throw it around and run zone read. They did that with James Franklin and Brad Smith, and they put guys in the pros, especially quarterbacks.”
In addition to Smith, who is actually a receiver in the NFL, Zanders was clearly referring to ex-Tigers like Chase Daniel (Chiefs) and Blaine Gabbert (Jaguars), who both remain on NFL rosters.
Zanders is the fourth player from Florida to commit to Missouri’s 2014 recruiting class, joining West Florida Tech receiver Lawrence Lee, West Florida Tech defensive end Rocel McWilliams and Tampa Sickles offensive tackle Zach Hudson.
Both McWilliams and Lee were reeled in by Zanders’ lead recruiter, MU offensive coordinator Josh Henson.
“We just kind of clicked when we first met,” Zanders said. “I’d call after different games and we’d talk about what happened. We just meshed. That made me feel good about the commitment, just being with him for the next four to five years. That was a big factor in my decision.”
Zanders’ father, who is also named Marvin, was happy Henson made it clear he wanted his son as a quarterback, unlike a handful of other schools.
“They were hands down, unwavering, (saying) 'That’s what we’re recruiting him to do,'” Zanders’ father said of Missouri. “I think he has the skillset. With a good group of coaches around, I think he can mature and get in the program and do something special.”
Zanders’ father said Henson, while making no promises, made it clear he will at least get the opportunity to do just that at Missouri, where he figures to compete with four other quarterbacks next season.
But first, Zanders will focus on leading Raines to a special season, one he thinks can be propelled by an amped-up passing attack. To that end, don’t expect him to stop bugging his coach, Deron Wiley, about throwing the ball more any time soon.
“Hopefully he’s listening,” Zanders said with a laugh.
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