By: Tony Thomas
At 6-0, 180, they said he was too small to play quarterback. They said he couldn’t run. But once he got into the huddle, he showed all the naysayers that he was a hard worker and a positive and motivating leader. He is Drew Brees of Austin Westlake.
A 2-year starter for the Chapparals, he amassed a 28-1-1 record under center (or behind the center). Any questions about his toughness were put to rest the summer prior to the 1996 season. Brees suffered a torn ACL in the playoffs the year before. But he rehabbed and trained and was ready to go for two-a-days 7-8 months later. And he didn’t look back.
Champions in 1996
With a quarterback returning from a serious knee injury and only eight starters returning, Westlake was not highly talked about, and certainly not as a championship contender heading into the ’96 season. But all that disrespect soon changed to trumpeted fanfare.
As a Co-Captain, Brees was the virtuoso conductor of offensive symphony that was tuned perfectly. The Chaps scored 40 points per game and held their hapless opponents to a paltry 12 points per game, including three shutouts, on their way to a 16-0 season. The wins for the 1996 regular season:
- San Antonio Holmes 28-14
- A&M Consolidated 42-21
- Bastrop 30-7
- Round Rock Westwood 46-6
- Round Rock 42-0
- Stephen F. Austin 42-21
- Austin Crockett 49-14
- Austin Bowie 35-14
- Austin Johnston 63-0
- San Marcos 42-0
Their wins in the playoffs:
- San Antonio Macarthur 20-10
- San Antonio Clark 33-19
- Victoria 41-0
- San Antonio Churchill 49-23
- Houston Aldine 42-21
- Abilene Cooper 55-15 (State Championship)
Against Abilene Cooper, the game was ties 7-7 at halftime. Then the Chaps outscored Cooper 48-8 in the second half to earn the blowout victory and their first 5A State Championship.
Brees completed 11 of 18 passes for 163 yards and 2 TDs, and he added a rushing touchdown.
Westlake racked up almost 400 yards (393) in total offense. And the defense played lights out, getting three interceptions and recovering four fumbles.
Brees finished the season with 3529 yards and 31 touchdowns, completing 64% of his passes. His favorite target, WR Ryan Read, hauled in 108 catches for 1993 yards.
For his outstanding play, Brees was named the 5A Offensive Player of the Year.
And, for his high school career as the starter, Brees passed for 5464 yards and 50 touchdowns.
The knee injury and his lack of prototypical size for the position scared away schools like Texas and Texas A&M. In fact, he only had two scholarship offers, to Kentucky and Purdue (according to 247sports). Brees signed with the Boilermakers.
“Basketball on Grass” in West Lafayette, Indiana
Brees was recruited by newly anointed Purdue Head Coach Joe Tiller and his Offensive Coordinator Jim Chaney. They ran a high-octane spread offense and called it “basketball on grass.” Brees became a star in this pass-happy offensive scheme.
At Purdue, Brees beat both Ohio State and Michigan and led Purdue to a Big Ten championship in 2000 and a Rose Bowl win.
His stats at Purdue were stellar:
- He turned in seven games of 400+ yards passing
- 16 games of 300+ yards passing.
- 11,792 passing yards
- 90 touchdown passes
- 12,692 yards of total offense
- Maxwell Award winner in 2000
- Big Ten Player of the Year in 2000
- 3rd in the Heisman Voting his senior year
Brees was a 2nd round draft pick of the San Diego Chargers in the 2001 NFL Draft. He later signed as a free agent with the New Orleans Saints in 2006 and became the savior of a down-trodden franchise that was mired in mediocrity. For 15 seasons, he led the Saints to unprecedented success.
Brees led the NFL in passing in 2009 and led the Saints to their first NFL title, winning Super Bowl XLVI.
His NFL records, awards and accolades are numerous:
- 9X Pro Bowl selection
- 2006 All-Pro
- 2006 Walter Payton Award winner
- Offensive Player of the Year in 2008 and 2011
- Super Bowl XLVI MVP
- 2011 Sportsman of the Year by Sports Illustrated
Brees is currently the NFL record holder in passing yards (80,358) and passing completions (7142). He is #2 all-time in passing touchdowns with 571.
He retired earlier this year and is an almost certainty to walk into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio on his first ballot.
Brees is also a member of the Texas High School Football Hall of Fame (Class of 2011) and the Texas Sports Hall of Fame.