Power Ranking the Football Talent in Varsity Blues

I love Varsity Blues. It’s a pretty ridiculous story detailing the most exaggerated versions of football in the great state of Texas. The film features plenty of top talent and I feel like the public needs to know who the best player really is. The topic has kept better men than me up at night. I’m here to end the debate once and for all.

The Best:

5-Star: Wendell Brown, All-Purpose Back


NFL Comparison: Alfred Morris

Brown, who was played by Eliel Swinton, was the true key to the West Canaan offense. Swinton actually was actually recruited out of high school and played college football at Stanford. He was even a member of the Kansas City Chiefs for a brief period. So he was a natural in his role.

Brown was recruited by Grambling and he had his mom to thank for that. He gained a lot of yards, averaging well over 100 rushing yards per game. He didn’t score as many touchdowns as he probably should have. Bud Kilmer, one of the true coaching villains of our time, typically would give the ball to Lance Harbor on the sweep instead. Brown was nonetheless a great running back. He was not used as a receiver very often and is similar to Alfred Morris in that regard.

Best Attributes: Brown has tremendous agility. He breaks tackles and plays with toughness. He was remarkably physically developed to be a high school senior. He flexes hard after touchdowns.

Negatives: Brown sustained a serious injury in the District Championship. 

4-Star: Charlie Tweeder, Wide Receiver


NFL Comparison: Wes Welker

Tweeder catches roughly 90% of the passes thrown in this movie. I can’t even believe that defenses are not aware that he’s going to be targeted on almost every single play. Tweeder consistently gets open and possesses pretty decent speed. He’s clearly a possession receiver and would need to play the slot in college or the NFL. Tweeder is played by Scott Caan, who is quite short. Tweeder might be a few inches shorter than Wes Welker.

Tweeder is still a valuable offensive weapon in most schemes. He could return kicks or punts. Kilmer even suggested that he might take the snaps in the event that John Moxon got hurt or wouldn’t play in the second half of the film’s final game. I think his lack of size would ultimately derail his NFL hopes but he could be a weapon in the spread offenses we see today in college football.

Best Attributes: Tweeder has tremendous hands and a solid catch radius for a shorter receiver. He gets great separation and is open almost every play. He has great quickness and would excel in a variety of roles. He could likely become tremendous punt returner.

Negatives: Tweeder shows signs of substance abuse. He steals a police car and I’m not sure if he’s ever arrested even though the officers saw him take it. He has a volatile demeanor. He is short so I think height would limit him in certain situations.

High Risk, High Reward:

4-Star: Lance Harbor, QB-DT


NFL Comparison: Aaron Rodgers

The West Canaan Coyotes feature an incredibly strong quarterback tandem. We don’t really see Moxon until after Harbor suffers a serious injury. I’ll begin with Harbor and establish a few reasons why he’s ranked slightly ahead of Moxon. First, Harbor was the only member of the team to be named All-Texas. That seems like a big deal.


Second, Harbor had already been offered a scholarship to Florida State. Third, Harbor’s knee injury probably wouldn’t have ended his career even in the late 1990’s.

Harbor had obviously been the victim of corrupt coaches and team doctors. I think he could have been given the chance to rehab the knee over the course of his first year of college. He would have had to change his playing style and maybe been in the right kind of system. Harbor, played by the late Paul Walker, was around 6’2 and had good running ability. He was tremendously accurate and was the team’s best player. If Lance’s knee could hold up, he would have a future in both college football and the NFL.

Best Attributes: Harbor is very accurate. He completes almost all of the passes he throws throughout the entire film. He knocks a beer can off his father’s head, so rare precision is displayed. Lance is a leader and actually coaches the Coyotes in the 2nd half of the District Championship. He uses a 5 – Wide Receiver offense. He has good running ability and is used in the running game frequently.

Negatives: Harbor suffered a serious knee injury at midseason. He has an extensive rehab process ahead of him. The film debuted in 1999, so I suspect the process might not have been as extensive as it seemed. He has a helicopter parent, his Father, and his girlfriend leaves him after he gets hurt. He might need to have a different group of advisors.

4-Star: John Moxon, QB-PP


NFL Comparison: Tony Romo

Moxon lets the audience know from the start that he’s not the biggest fan of Bud Kilmer. He’s very intelligent and doesn’t seem to care about the details of the Coyote offense. Moxon reads a book instead of looking at the plays on the sidelines. He does, however, show a slight flash of brilliance when he throws a wayward pass to a referee while seated on the bench. Lance goes down and suddenly Moxon is thrust into the spotlight.

Moxon’s knowledge of the plays and the checks is pretty pathetic. He clearly has to invest more time and might be questioned about whether he loves the game or not. James Van Der Beek played Moxon and is around 6’1. Moxon shows the ability to move around the pocket in order to extend plays. He reminds me of Romo in that regard. He has a rare ability to make the deep throw and has a high-ceiling. He’s played very little and would be considered a risk for any program.

Best Attributes: Moxon displays elite arm strength. He is quite quotable. He is most likely to make a promise after a game and deliver on that promise. He’s a little like Tim Tebow in that respect. Moxon is able to motivate his team. He’s very intelligent and can play in a variety of schemes.

Negatives: Moxon’s had limited playing time in high school. He’s a classic late-bloomer. He only has a few games of film so there is no way to know what he can really do. He might be like Cardale Jones, a player that Buckeye fans are watching regress in a larger role. Moxon is attacked by his coach so that is pretty wild. He lacks discipline and didn’t work hard prior to being thrust into the starting role.

Recruiting Gem:

2-Star: Billy Bob, Offensive Guard/Center


NFL Comparison: David Molk

Billy Bob was played by Ron Lester, who is around 5’10. David Molk is around 6’1 so I had to find a shorter NFL offensive lineman. Billy Bob was heavy though and used his broad frame to bulldoze opposing defenders. I don’t know how many pancakes blocks he recorded and I don’t necessarily think he’d clear a concussion test, but he’s a player.

Billy Bob played with a lot of aggression and did block a punt in the District Championship game. He’s an emotional guy and would need a strong locker room in order to keep his head right. I don’t think his diet was particularly good so I think he would be able to find a more appropriate playing weight within a few years of being in college. He could even transition into a fullback after showing some offensive skills and could be a great blocking back.

Best Attributes: Billy Bob is a team player. He’s loyal to his coach and his teammates. Bud Kilmer is a tyrant and Billy Bob is still loyal to him. He could have played at Illinois in the Tim Beckman regime. He is a tremendous lead blocker. He also blocks a punt and could find a role on special teams.

Negatives: Billy Bob has serious concussion concerns. He would struggle to make grades. Billy Bob is a heavy drinker and has poor eating habits. He thought his pig (named Bacon) was dog. That’s not a knock on his ability and might not be a true negative. It is, however, alarming that a high school senior doesn’t know anything about domestic animals.


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