Remembering when Jarrett Stidham was ranked higher than Sam Darnold, Lamar Jackson


The high school class of 2015 had some outstanding quarterbacks — Kyler Murray, Kelly Bryant, Joe Burrow, Lamar Jackson, Jarrett Stidham just to name a few.

And according to ESPN’s 300 rankings, Stidham was the No. 2 dual-threat quarterback in the entire country, trailing only Murray. The Stephenville High School (Texas) star was ranked ahead of players who have proven themselves at the NFL level in Darnold and Jackson.

Stidham truly was one of the best quarterbacks in the entire country.    

“I knew right away he would be a great football player for us,” his high school coach and now University of Tulsa defensive coordinator Joe Gillespie said over the phone last week.

“In high school he could pretty much do everything,” Stidham's personal quarterback coach Kelan Luker added. “I can name off every intangible a quarterback is supposed to have and he had it.”


Stidham was born in Corbin, Kentucky, but moved to Stephenvile, Texas around the fifth grade. He was in the same grade as Gillispie’s son, so the high school coach was able to see even at a young age Stidham had the potential to be a star.

Luker, who played quarterback at Stephenville himself in the late 90s before moving on to play at Southern Methodist, was introduced to Stidham a few years after he had moved because of a recommendation from Gillespie.

“I talked to his dad for the first time the summer of seventh or eighth grade and he said to me, ‘I want him to be the best.’ I will never forget that,” said Luker.

He began by coaching Stidham and his teammates in 7v7 during the offseason and it was quite clear Stidham was on a different level, which went beyond him standing close to six-foot tall when he was only in junior high.

“Jarrett just had a knack for being accurate,” Luker said. “There was an issue on his 7v7 team, and I think even as he got older, he hardly ever missed and so all the pressure was always on the receivers. The receivers felt it, too. There weren’t too many Michael Irvin’s on the team, so it was an ongoing battle with that. I was dumbfounded with just how he was so accurate.”

Once Stidham got to high school, he was the quarterback of the freshman team even though he had the potential to start on varsity. Gillespie was a big believer in the process and having quarterbacks develop.

But, it was during that freshman year where Luker really saw the full potential of Stidham and what he one day could be.