McElroy holds up under pressure of marquee position
By DAMON L. SAYLES / The Dallas Morning News - Thursday, November 24, 2005
SOUTHLAKE – Greg McElroy knew from his first snap as Southlake Carroll's quarterback that he would be praised heavily or scrutinized mercilessly depending on his play.
The spotlight he has been in might have shined brightest Nov. 12 in a Class 5A Division II Region I bi-district playoff at Texas Stadium. In his first postseason start, McElroy delivered an MVP-type performance.
"He didn't let the big stage intimidate him," Carroll coach Todd Dodge said of McElroy, who threw for 278 yards and four touchdowns and rushed for another score – all in the first half – to help beat Irving MacArthur, 48-21.
"Pressure is however you handle it, and with Greg and all our quarterbacks, you go into a big game with a gunslinger's mentality."
McElroy followed that performance with a 355-yard, three-touchdown show in a 45-15 win against Allen in last Saturday's area-round playoff. McElroy completed 25 of 34 passes and threw no interceptions and helped Carroll (12-0) win its 28th consecutive game and 59th in 60 games dating to 2002.
"There's pressure, absolutely. But playing for Southlake and the town, what it does is it fuels my fire," McElroy said. "I think pressure brings out the best in me. I love the big-time games."
McElroy said being a backup to Chase Daniel and Chase Wasson, two former 5A players of the year, had its good and bad moments.
"For anyone, it would be extremely difficult to wait, but you have to take into consideration the people I was behind," McElroy said. "They were both tremendous quarterbacks. You can't find any two better who have won more games.
"I had a chance to transfer, but I wanted to stay and be a Carroll Dragon. One year at Southlake is as good as three at another school."
Despite not starting a single game, McElroy has been on college scouts' radars since he was a sophomore. Recruiters scouted Daniel in spring football workouts but were pleasantly surprised when they saw the other Carroll quarterback showcase his accuracy and arm strength.
"Chase [Daniel] was our returning starter, but we held him out of a lot of drills. We knew what he could do," Dodge said. "Greg got a ton of reps that spring. They would come to see Chase, and they'd leave saying, 'Who's that kid?' "
Receiver McKay Jacobson, who has committed to BYU, has watched and helped McElroy develop into one of the state's top quarterbacks. McElroy has thrown for 3,394 yards and 44 touchdowns with only six interceptions in 328 attempts. Jacobson, McElroy's top target, has 73 catches for 1,230 yards and 14 scores.
McElroy, in addition, has led Carroll to No. 1 rankings in both the National Prep Football Poll and the Student Sports Fab 50 national poll and a national No. 3 ranking in the USA Today Super 25.
[Click image for a larger version] BRAD LOPER / DMN
BRAD LOPER / DMN
Greg McElroy and Southlake Carroll are riding a 28-game winning streak.
"Going in your senior year and your first year to start, it's tough for anyone," Jacobson said, "but he's done a great job behind a two-time 5A player of the year [Daniel] and another 5A player of the year [Wasson]. He's gotten better from learning from Chase Daniel and being behind him."
Linebacker Patrick Benoist, one of McElroy's closest friends since fifth grade, said McElroy has helped Carroll's defense improve. Benoist and the defense have had to make plays in practice or get embarrassed by the offense's potent attack.
"Greg's a great quarterback, and we get to play against a great corps of receivers every day," Benoist said. "Their offense is so efficient, and we learn a lot from them. It's good to get to see the best because it helps out for game time."
As the team faces unbeaten and state-ranked Abilene on Saturday, it will expect McElroy to continue making the plays necessary to reach the state championship game once again.
It's all about a little perseverance for Carroll, something McElroy has lived on.
"He's dedicated himself to being the best player he could possibly be," Dodge said. "You look at his work going all the way back to when he was a freshman. You look at his work in off-season and in the quarterback training programs. He's just gotten better and better."
Statistics for Southlake Carroll's last three quarterbacks during their senior seasons:
Name Year Stats Comment
Chase Wasson 2002 4,822 yards, 54 TDs Threw for 5A record 512
yards in state title game
Chase Daniel 2004 4,582 yards, 48 TDs Also ran for 1,400
yards and 21 touchdowns
Greg McElroy 2005 3,394 yards, 44 TDs Broke the team's
Note: Wasson and Daniel both played in 16 games and won state championships during their senior seasons. McElroy has played in 12 games and is looking to win a state title.