Today, many privileged white suburban amateur quarterbacks have the luxury of attending the best camps America has to offer during the offseason. There, they can receive training and advice from the John Grudens and Peyton Mannings of the world on how to become a pro-style quarterback.
On the other hand, some African-American kids from the inner city can’t afford the fees to attend such camps and are rarely invited unless highly ranked.
Personal quarterback gurus John Paul “J.P.” Tillman and Darrel Colbert Jr. want to level the playing field for young, Black, Houston-area QBs with their workout sessions around town, and hope to mold the next crop of prime-time college and pro players.
Both men are experienced leaders on the field.
Tillman, aka the “QB technician,” was one of the top quarterback recruits in the city at Cy Fair High School. He committed to the University of Missouri before transferring to Grambling State where he helped the Tigers win an HBCU National Championship. Due to an abdominal injury, Tillman’s career was cut short in the NFL. He decided to use his knowledge to help other players develop. Today he operates Five Star General Academy for QBs alongside Richard Whitfield.
Tillman works with such players as Terrance Gipson (Southern Methodist University/Westfield HS), Malik Hornsby (University of Arkansas/Fort Bend Marshall HS), Dematrius Davis (back-to-back 6A State Championship MVP, Galena Park North Shore HS /Auburn commit), Ryan Stubblefield (Richmond-Foster HS/East Carolina commit) and Clifton McDowell (Spring HS University of Louisiana-Lafayette commit).
Colbert was a standout quarterback at Houston’s Lamar HS, where he compiled a 36-5 record as a starter and led Lamar to its first state championship appearance in over 50 years. He went on to play college ball at SMU and Lamar University, and led LU to its first college playoff appearance.
Colbert currently trains with D’Eriq King (University of Miami/Manvel HS), Kyle Trask (University of Florida/Manvel HS), James Foster (Texas A&M) and Kyron Drones (2019 5A State Championship MVP for Alvin-Shadow Creek HS, Baylor commit).
The Defender spoke with Tillman and Colbert about their work and its impact.
Inspiration to coach QBs
Tillman: “A lot of times with Black quarterbacks, we get the athletic vibe. We get that he can play quarterback in high school but when he gets to college, his feet are too antsy, he is not calm in the pocket, I can’t get him to look at his read because he only sees the pressure. But many of those things are just issues everybody deals with at quarterback whether they are Black or white…It intrigues coaches to think if they have a Black quarterback with speed, he can play wide receiver if he can’t play quarterback. I am definitely one of those quarterback coaches who got into this to void that belief.”
Colbert: “I measure my success in life on how many people I can help. I think that is what life is about, and with my business I want to help young QBs just like coaches have helped me throughout my playing time.”
QB development strategy
Tillman: “Each individual I work with has a different development path. So, I have a different way to work with each kid to help them grow and mature. These kids are all at different development stages. [Letting them know] you can do this, this is how it is done, here is the information you need to do it successfully, evens out the playing field…”
Colbert: “All of my training sessions are an hour long. Most of my guys that I train come two to three times a week; two times during the week and once on the weekend.”
What QBs should work on
Tillman: “Keying in on your mechanics is crucial. One of my kids had a very long throwing motion and we worked on the quickness of his delivery, the quickness of his feet in the pocket and his quickness in driving weight to his target [receiver]. All those things can help you get rid of the ball faster, put more power into the ball and have better accuracy, ultimately checking off a few more of those boxes scouts and recruiters are looking for.”
Top 5 QBs to watch in 2021
- Dematrius Davis, Galena Park HS, Auburn commit
- Jalen Milroe, Katy Thompkins HS, University of Texas at Austin commit
- Kyron Drones, Alvin Shadow Creek HS, Baylor commit
- Ryan Stubblefield, Richmond Foster HS, East Carolina commit
- Ronald Holmes, Northside HS, uncommitted