Jefferson Boaz is finally getting the chance he’s always wanted. It just took him a few years to get there.
It’s the 6-foot-8, 240-pound senior’s first full season at quarterback for East Surry. Boaz, who verbally committed to North Carolina on June 15 after receiving nine Division I scholarship offers, is making the most of his time.
Boaz said he “didn’t have a shot” at that role as a freshman on East Surry’s varsity. Playing quarterback as a sophomore, he suffered an ankle injury on Sept. 15, 2017 during a 28-24 win over nonconference rival West Stokes. He said he was out about six weeks and returned to play tight end and linebacker.
Last season, Boaz shared the quarterback spot with Stephen Gosnell, rated a 3-star prospect by 247Sports who committed to N.C. State in June as a wide receiver. Boaz became the sole starter entering the third round of the NCHSAA Class 1-AA playoffs against rival Mount Airy. Boaz compiled 1,611 passing yards and 20 touchdowns along with another 209 on the ground in 2018, scoring three times as East Surry finished its season at 11-4, the state runner-up behind Tarboro.
He’s eclipsed that passing mark after six straight wins as the starter this season. Boaz has thrown for 1,839 yards and 26 touchdowns, as undefeated East Surry approaches its Northwest 1-A conference opener against Bishop McGuinness tonight. He has rushed for 176 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Boaz has made the most of his chance — to make his case to be a Division I quarterback. It’s a goal he’s had since eighth grade at Pilot Mountain Middle School.
“I really have never gotten that quarterback shot and I feel like, once I get that shot, I’ll be able to thrive in that position,” said Boaz, whose father, Jay, was a punter with the Tar Heels from 1992 to 1994 under Coach Mack Brown. “To really be recruited as a quarterback, from a college standpoint, you have to put up a lot of numbers. ... You’ve got to have a lot of touchdown passes, a lot of yards, a lot of film.
“I just don’t have that.”
Boaz said he was recruited as an athlete — with possibilities of playing tight end, outside linebacker or quarterback. He attended Brown’s Showtime Camp, where he committed to North Carolina, and played in all three positions at the recruiting exposure event in Chapel Hill.
His desire to play quarterback hasn’t fallen on deaf ears, either. Those conversations took place when North Carolina’s Jace Ruder, the backup quarterback to true freshman Sam Howell, suffered a leg injury in the first half of the Tar Heels’ 34-31 loss to Appalachian State on Sept. 21. Boaz said he spoke with Brown, along with Lonnie Galloway, the team’s wide receivers coach, and Tim Brewster, the assistant head coach in charge of tight ends, about his chances as a quarterback.
“They told me that if I was on campus right now, I’d be the second-team quarterback,” Boaz said. “But, with that being said, ‘Also when you get down here, we’re going to reassess everything and put you where you need to go to help the team the best.’”
Boaz’s confidence is something Coach Trent Lowman of East Surry shares. He said there was no doubt Boaz could become a quarterback at a Power-5 program — maybe even beyond college. Playing only one season as a starter has hurt Boaz’s case, Lowman said.
“The sad thing in this day’s game is they start recruiting quarterbacks in eighth and ninth grade,” Lowman said. “And they have commitments by then. And I’m going to tell you, Jefferson’s better than a lot of those commitments.
“He wasn’t starting on varsity as a quarterback as a freshman. As a sophomore, he didn’t have those stats, and people don’t see that on him. But his ability as a quarterback and his intelligence as a quarterback is there.”
Boaz left an impression on Coach Jimmy Teague of Reidsville recently. On Sept. 27, the Cardinals defeated the Rams 55-49, as Boaz passed for 479 yards, five touchdowns and added two rushing touchdowns.
Teague, who will be the North Carolina coach for the 83rd annual Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas on Dec. 21, said Boaz’s height is an advantage. His accuracy was another. Boaz has completed 93 of 126 passes this season.
It didn’t take long for Teague to give his take on Boaz’s hopes to play quarterback in college.
“Absolutely,” said Teague. “If I was recruiting him, I’d be recruiting him as a quarterback.”