Three weeks into the 2011 NFL season and one of the top stories in the league is the resurgence of the Buffalo Bills. The Bills surprising 3-0 start, which was punctuated with a shocking 34-31 upset of the Patriots Sunday, has been led by little-known seventh-year quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who starred in college at Harvard and also completed the Wonderlic test at the 2005 NFL Combine in a record nine minutes. This year Fitzpatrick is becoming known for his ability, currently tied for second in the NFL with nine touchdown passes and ranking as the league's No. 2 signal caller in the new QBR rating. Today we take a look back at Fitzpatrick when he was in high school with an ESPNHS Alumnus of the Day feature.
Fitzpatrick attended Highland High School in Gilbert, Arizona, where he starred in football, basketball, and track and field. As a junior in 1999, Fitzpatrick beat out a senior to earn the starting job, and preceded to throw 16 touchdowns to earn all-region honors, leading Highland to a region title as well.
Emerging as a recruitable prospect and filling in at nearly 6-2, 205 pounds, Fitzpatrick was invited to and attended the USC Nike Camp in the spring of 2000, where he held his own amongst the region's top prospects at the quarterback position, which included Matt Leinart, Billy Hart (USC signee), Kyle Matter (Stanford), Matt Dlugolecki (Illinois), Richard Schwartz (Cal), and John Sciarra (UCLA). At the USC Nike Camp, Fitzpatrick clocked a 4.85 40-yard dash time, almost identical to the 4.86 40 he would run five years later at the NFL Combine.
Despite earning Region MVP honors and second team Class 5A all-state as a senior in 2000, Fitzpatrick's lone scholarship offer was from then I-AA and now FBS school Eastern Washington, so the stellar student opted for Harvard to continue his academic, and football career. He set 12 school records as a Highland Hawk and one state mark (throwing a 99-yard touchdown pass). He was also teammates with Tampa Bay Buccaneers player Marquis Cooper at Highland, who was one of three people who passed away in a 2009 boating accident off of Florida's Gulf Coast.