DESOTO, Texas -- One of the top prospects in attendance at the Dallas NFTC on Sunday at Eagle Stadium was Stephenville (Texas) quarterback Jarrett Stidham, a consensus five-star prospect ranked as the No. 2 dual-threat quarterback in the nation.
While Stidham didn't pick up an invite to The Opening and the Elite 11, one could still be in the offing, as he showed why he is so highly ranked.
In late January, predictions in the 247Sports Crystal Ball started to trend in favor of the Texas Tech Red Raiders after schools like Alabama, Baylor and Oregon had all been seen as major contenders to land his services.
And, indeed, Stidham decided to end his recruitment on an early March visit to Texas Tech.
At the Dallas NFTC, Stidham spoke with SB Nation Recruiting about his decision.
"There were a lot of things that kind of factored in to it, but ultimately it came down to the feeling of being at home -- the campus, the university, Lubbock, and being around the coaches and the people there," he said. "It just felt like a home atmosphere and the place for me."
He got that feeling pretty quickly on his March trip to Lubbock.
"It was on my visit," Stidham said, recounting when he knew it would be the Red Raiders. "The beginning of March trip kind of gave me that instinct, that feeling. I did a little bit of everything, talked to the coaches, they just showed me some love. I think I knew within the first hour that I was there, that this is where I want to be. It kinda gave off that vibe."
Texas Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury was an instrumental figure in his decision, especially as a former quarterback himself.
"How young and energetic he is," Stidham said of what he likes about Kingsbury. "How he can show us what he wants done -- he can physically show us since he's played the position before. I feel like he's really smart in the film room. Everything to me that he talks about, makes sense."
The former Red Raider quarterback has only been a head coach for one season at the college level and was only an offensive coordinator for one season, although he did spend two years as the co-offensive coordinator at Houston. In that time, he's already proven himself capable of developing young quarterbacks.
He did it with redshirt freshman Johnny Manziel at Texas A&M and then did it last year with true freshman walk-on Baker Mayfield and true freshman Davis Webb.
That ability was not lost on Stidham.
"It definitely weighed in to my decision," said the Stephenville dual-threat passer. "He showed me some film of some plays that I had over the season and compared them to ones that Johnny Manziel had at A&M. So it was pretty cool and hopefully it can turn out the same for me there."
There's also been a lot of hype accompanying his commitment to Texas Tech. In fact, the Red Raiders haven't landed a Rivals five-star prospect since the service started ranking players in 2002, and while Stidham hasn't yet gotten his fifth star, he is a high four-star recruit and the industry considered him a five-star prospect, as measured by the 247Sports Composite rankings.
One might think that there is some pressure associated with the fact that he's arguably the school's most important recruit in the modern era, but it isn't weighing on the 6'4, 190-pounder at all.
"Not really," he said when asked about it. "I really don't think about it. I'm just going to a school that I love."
Quarterbacks are often the leaders of a recruiting class and it's a responsibility that Stidham is taking seriously.
He's talking to Aledo (Texas) wide receiver Ryan Newsome, with whom he made a visit out to Lubbock. The dynamic wide receiver prospect told SB Nation Recruiting over the weekend that the quarterbacks a school has on campus or in their respective recruiting class will make an impact on his decision and that he could see himself catching passes from his strong-armed friend.
In addition, Stidham says he talks with Dallas (Texas) Prime Prep wide receiver James Proche a little bit. The Dallas NFTC standout doesn't yet have an offer from the Red Raiders, but Stidham is hoping that Proche lands one soon.
And then there's defensive tackle Breiden Fehoko from Hawai'i, a top-10 defensive tackle who is considering the Red Raiders.
Whether or not Stidham helps to land those prospects, his commitment by itself is the most important one yet for Kingsbury in his efforts to rebuild the Red Raiders, and if Stidham can reach his potential under the charismatic young head coach, he could write his name in the Texas Tech record books as one of the most prolific passers in school history, which would be no small accomplishment.
The expectations may be high, but the pressure isn't fazing Stidham, who is dealing with them as calmly as he does onrushing defensive linemen on fall Fridays.