Let's see if I can answer my own questions about the situation here:
1) Who is Michael Brewer?
He is a right-handed QB from Austin, TX who goes about 6'1", 185 lbs. He is transferring from Texas Tech, where he spent the last three years. He has a limited track record at the collegiate level, and a very small sample size of stats, considering the volume of pass plays and pace of the Red Raider offense under Kliff Kingsbury.
He threw for 4,450 yards to go along with 43 TDs and 7 INTs as a
SR JR (Austin, TX) in high school under Chad Morris, who is now the Offensive Coordinator at Clemson.
He didn't get much of an opportunity to play in Lubbock, as he was beset with early injuries. He threw just 10 passes last year, after throwing 48 as a redshirt freshman. And after this year's Holiday Bowl when true freshman Davis Webb thew for over 400 yards against Arizona State, the writing was apparently on the wall regarding Brewer's future at Texas Tech.
2) Is he any good?
I am not exaggerating when I say that his size and mentality (mainly gleaned from watching HS film) remind me of Drew Brees (New Orleans Saints, two-time NFL Offensive Player of the Year). Not only is he from Austin, Texas like Brees, but he can really sling it. His release point is a little low, somewhere just above sidearm, and it certainly isn't the typical square, high release point (behind the ear) that coaches at the NFL level insist on. But it comes from the hip and he can throw it a long way.
He is mobile enough to escape, and looks very comfortable rolling out. Naturally, he is more adept going right as a right-handed passer. I don't think we should be banking on too many veer plays (thank heavens from my knees) from Brewer though. Mainly because he's not going to burn too many LBs in open field. But he also wouldn't be up to taking too many hits. Most of the film on him at Texas Tech and in high school shows him taking snaps from the shotgun.
Here is a video of him at the Texas Tech spring game, mostly talking, with a couple highlights:
Meet The Two-Deep: QB Michael Brewer (via techathletics)
And here is a longer video of him ripping it up in High School:
Michael Brewer Highlights 2009 (via JBrewerDallas)
3) How well does he fit in Offensive Coordinator Scot Loeffler's System?
How can anybody even be sure what Loeffler is going to do? It's going to be a spread attack. But the QB keeper on the option is going to all but be eliminated. Loeffler has been tailoring the attack to Logan Thomas's unique set of skills for his first two seasons, and now it's his ship to steer without prior personnel baggage on board. It's an exciting time for the offense in spite of all the uncertainty.
4) Was he PROMISED the job?
I tend to think he was promised the job. He definitely could have gone and started at Kentucky in the SEC for sure. I think this move is motivated entirely by a desire for playing time. I have to imagine he watched film of Mark Leal and determined that he was a stronger candidate should they be measured head to head. And truth be told, he should be confident: Honestly he looks more polished in his high school film than I've seen Leal look at at a VT practice. Again, short sample sizes on both, and just my inflation-adjusted two cents.
With a slender Andrew Ford needing time to germinate, and Chris Durkin not hitting campus until late summer, it's extremely wise to have another "experienced" QB on deck. I just don't think he'd commit to VT without thinking he had this in the bag. It's push come to shove in this young man's career trajectory and he isn't throwing caution to the wind.
5) Why didn't Chad Morris pursue him at Clemson with Tajh Boyd graduating?
This is of slight concern to me. His own HS coach didn't jump at the chance to bring him aboard? He had said Clemson was "an option". Clemson's QB situation is almost as nebulous as VT's with Freshman Deshaun Watson raising a bit of a stink, along with former NFL QB Cliff Stoudt's son Cole (rising SR) and Chad Kelly (rising SO). It would seem an ideal landing spot as well. I'd be interested to find out what prevented more of a hard look here.
6) Mark Leal we hardly knew ye? How does this affect the QB position as a whole?
The supposed front-runner for the job, even after a dismal showing in the Sun Bowl, Leal has to be extremely discouraged by this news. Will he decide to make a last ditch transfer effort in order to secure playing time elsewhere; or will he be content to remain the good soldier through this and hope for an opportunity with the Hokies?
He does have the Spring pretty much all to himself to prove that he can make the throws. It would be his last chance, presumably along with Brendan Motley, to gain traction on the incoming freshmen and Brewer. The fact remains however, that even as poorly as Logan Thomas played at times, Leal never got to enter games in relief. He didn't give us "the best chance to win."
And while I'm beyond irritated with the fact it's taken our coaches this long to make this determination on Leal's talent, it may wind up being a blessing in disguise if it helped us branch out nationally to acquire the talent we require.
It's upsetting that we didn't recruit anyone better with Leal on the bench, and it's upsetting that we couldn't develop him sufficiently in four years in order to prepare him for one transition season. And perhaps with two incoming freshmen, Loeffler wanted a guy he can count on for two years til Ford or Durkin is ready. Certainly it appears that Travon McMillian is going to be switching up positions now. There is no point to grooming him at QB.
7) Why did Frank Beamer commit to Leal in the media after the Sun Bowl if he had no intention of following through? Is this fair?
What else was he going to say? He had just gotten his tail handed to him on national TV (again). He had nothing in the cupboard, as signing day was a month away, and Leal was really all he had at his disposal (a problem in itself).
No it probably isn't fair, but who among us can claim that life operates on even terms? It's upsetting that Leal's only real shot came against an honor-laden front seven in UCLA. It's upsetting that we had no consistent run game or threat at wide receiver, and that he played behind the worst offensive line performance of the season, particularly from his freshman left tackle Jon McLaughlin on his blind side.
If Leal is indeed done at VT, then the Sun Bowl will be one of those odd footnotes in the history of the program, and that's a shame. All he has done is be there for VT, presumably ready to go, for the last four years. You haven't heard one negative thing about the young man, which is more than the Montgomery Country Court Docket/Judicial Review System at VT says about a lot of the rest of us.
8) Is recruiting Del Ray Beach a concern now? Have we violated any kind of trust?
Mayor of Del Ray, Charley Wiles is probably still OK down there as VT has had a very high rate of success with those players, having sent Brandon Flowers, Jayron Hosley, and David Clowney to the NFL (with Luther Maddy and probably Dadi Nicholas soon to follow). That said, when one of your kids waits patiently for four years and the opportunity to start, and has the dreaded "vote of confidence" from the head coach, it might leave a sour taste when the program goes out and specifically shops for his real-time replacement.
9) What else can we take away from this?
Scot Loeffler's influence on Beamer has been eye-opening. It appears Beamer is willing to cede a little control to him here and allow him to spread his wings. Loeffler has been invaluable in branching out nationally for recruits, and it has really saved our bacon here this past signing day.
Even independent of his own recruiting excellent recruiting effort, Loeffler is targeting offensive players for other coaches to go after in their respective areas. He seems to be coordinating towards a larger goal, and as we divest of the prior regime's personnel, and he puts his stamp on it; it's going to be exciting to see the culmination of his efforts.
And as we escape this potential catastrophe (assuming Brewer is up to his video resume), it's important to realize just how important it is to have more players at our disposal for the individual positions' competition. We can't paint ourselves into a corner and expect to be bailed out. We might have gone into this season with a completely over-matched QB and been forced to make difficult decisions regarding our red-shirts.
I'm not entirely sure what drove Beamer to decide to get his QBs starting earlier, and assuming that every QB we sign is going to be worthy of the starting role for three years. I think having a talent like Michael Vick, who was ready so early and left so quickly, distorted Beamer's world-view a little bit.
Yes, there are talents that are undeniable at a very early age, and yes we've been burned by early departures for the pros. But the QB position is not one that can be forced, sometimes it takes time to season a really good player. There is too much of a stigma attached to young players who aren't already making waves by their 2nd year. After having recognized success with Jim Druckenmiller and Al Clark, both of whom waited until their junior years to start, VT has been on a run of three year starters (even including the much-maligned Sean Glennon) since the late 1990s.
Perhaps taking the time to reset here with an upper-classman will calm such expectations for the new kids coming in. It's time to respect the growth process once again. Sometimes I'd prefer to watch a finished product than watch somebody learning on the job.
10) So Flyers, you happy with this?
11) How do you see things shaking out?
Leal transfers. Brewer starts, Motley backs up. We red-shirt both the kids.
Looking forward to hearing from you folks in the comments below. Hope everyone has a great week!