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Matthew Stafford returns to Dallas

9/29/2011

As he was researching quarterbacks before the 2009 draft, new Detroit Lions coach Jim Schwartz took a trip to Dallas. As Tim McMahon writes for ESPNDallas.com, Schwartz met with Matthew Stafford's former high school coach and departed with him a highlight reel of Stafford's career at Highland Park High School.

Schwartz then flipped on the video during a pre-draft meeting with Stafford and was impressed by what McMahon writes was Stafford's "photographic recall" of those games. It's part of the reason the Lions made Stafford, a Dallas native, the No. 1 overall pick.

From McMahon's piece, posted Thursday:

Stafford's success certainly isn't a surprise to anybody who crossed paths with him in Highland Park. In a town that has a waiting list for the high school's season tickets, he was somewhat of a local legend long before he had a driver's license.

Coach Randy Allen, who is considered one of the country's top high school quarterback gurus, remembers folks telling him he had to see the seventh-grader who could throw a football 70 yards and had never lost a football game. Sure enough, Allen made plans for Stafford to start as a sophomore soon after meeting him.

As a 15-year-old, Stafford threw 38 touchdowns and only three interceptions while leading the Scots to the Class 4A state semifinals. That playoff run included a classic performance at Texas Stadium, where Stafford threw for 400 yards to outduel national-record-setting senior Ennis quarterback Graham Harrell in an upset of an undefeated team heavily favored to win the state title.

"He's the best I've seen anywhere," Allen recalls being told by Jim Harbaugh the next year, when the current 49ers head coach came to Highland Park to recruit for the University of San Diego.

Sunday's game at Cowboys Stadium will be Stafford's first NFL start there; he was injured and did not play in the Lions' 35-19 loss there last year.