The quarterback position in Euless Trinity’s offense has always been a unique one. While offenses throughout the state of Texas have spread things out and exploded through the air in the last 20 years, Trinity’s I-formations are a true throwback and have proven still effective in the hands of then-offensive coordinator and now-head coach Chris Jensen, as the Trojans have nabbed three state titles since 2005.
What a weapon to have, then, in a quarterback who literally lives in the body of a fullback. Senior Tyler Natee (6-1, 239 lbs.), in just the start of his second season playing the position, is the latest Trojans quarterback to show the rest of the state that you don’t have to throw 20 vertical passes per game in order to be successful.
In the season-opening win against what was then the No. 1-ranked high school football team in the Nation in Concord (Calif.) De La Salle, Natee completed seven of just 11 passes on the night for a modest 65 yards through the air but also rumbled through the teeth of a defense laden with NCAA Division I talent for 98 more yards, including a 44-yard touchdown up the middle on a read play that put the Trojans in the lead for good in the third quarter.
Leading Trinity to that win was another mile marker on the long road from Natee’s start as a wide-eyed and wide-bodied sophomore fullback who Jensen said wasn’t getting enough snaps, to becoming the offensive leader of the storied Trinity program. To talk with a young man as large as Natee about the intricacies of the quarterback position must be almost as jarring as trying to bring to bring him down as a tackler in the open field.
For the record, Natee outweighs each of the 18 Trojans listed on Trinity’s varsity roster in the linebacker or tight end positions.
“He brings size, speed and vision to the quarterback position,” Jensen said. “We knew he was a really good runner but we had also seen him throwing the ball, just messing around. He had a real tight spiral on the ball, and it’s gone from a little package we put together for him from the shotgun to him being our guy and starting 15 games for us now.”
When Jensen noticed Natee’s throwing ability after that sophomore season, he started mulling over a Wildcat package for the Trinity offense. And Natee’s development progressed quickly across 7-on-7 play and spring training. By the end of the school year, he was in the top two competing for the starting quarterback job in what would be his junior year.
Needless to say, Natee got the job.
“I knew at the time he could throw it good enough,” Jensen said. “But then he started throwing it really well, he started picking up on things really quickly, he had command in the huddle and all the little things that go with the position. He really made it to where we didn’t ever want to take him out.”
But Jensen was careful not to overload the new guy under center. Natee said that patience on the part of the coaching staff was key to his development at the new position.
“At first I was shocked. I had no idea what a quarterback actually does or much of anything about the position and the role he plays within the team,” Natee said. “It was a great opportunity, but it was surprising.”
As a junior, he fit right in with what Jensen – as offensive coordinator in head coach Steve Lineweaver’s final season – wanted from the quarterback position. Natee threw for 895 yards and eight touchdowns while rushing for 1,256 yards and 11 more scores in a 12-2 season that ended in a 30-27 loss in the Class 6A Region I finals to eventual state champion Allen.
He picked up right where he left off in his first game of 2015, which was perhaps the most hyped opening-week high school football game in the country. Natee has received one scholarship offer from Arkansas State thus far.
“If defenses want to stack the box and play up close to stop the run, then I can call something, get a pass off and keep them honest,” Natee said. “We just want to keep the defense guessing all the time.”
Trinity’s tough non-district continues Sept. 11, when the Trojans will look to keep Lancaster guessing in a Week 3 matchup at AT&T Stadium, with kickoff slated for 7 p.m.
Matt Martinez, 817-390-7760