KERNERSVILLE, N.C. — From pop warner to the pros, the Quarterback position has changed. Long gone are the statuesque, immobile QBs that rigidly stand inside pockets looking for the perfect throwing window. We are now in the age of the dual-threat QB, a player who can throw bombs down the field or rip off a dazzling 50-yard rushing touchdown.
East Forsyth Quarterback Jaylen Alexander-Raynor is the embodiment of this modern take on the most important position in the sport. Alexander-Raynor and the Eagles are off to a 3-0 start, due in no small part to his abilities on the field.
Through 3 games, Alexander-Raynor has thrown for 753 yards and 11 touchdowns while running for 443 yards and 7 more touchdowns. I'll do the math for you, Jaylen's favorite subject by the way. He is averaging 398.7 yards and 6 touchdowns a game.
Alexander-Raynor was not always a quarterback. Initially playing running back for the Kernersville Raiders youth football team he made the switch because their quarterback was not getting the job done. He has been a QB ever since.
In 2021, after the high school football season was postponed to the spring because of the Covid19 pandemic, Alexander-Raynor became the starting QB for the defending champion Eagles as a sophomore. Head coach Todd Willert already saw something special in him with his rare combination of speed, and thanks to a summer growth spurt, size.
"He started getting a little bigger, a little taller, a little longer, and all of a sudden you're like man this guy, there could be something special" remembered Coach Willert. He also said that his first season showed some serious potential despite the unorthodox and chaotic surroundings that season brought.
In addition to lighting it up on the field, Jaylen excels in the classroom with a 4.0 GPA. He is humble, but confident, modeling that aspect of his game after Aaron Rodgers, the Green Bay quarterback who was so self-assured coming out of college he kept a list of those who doubted his chances of making it in the NFL.
A quick view of Alexander-Raynor's Hudl page and you'll see highlight after highlight. But if you ask him what his favorite kinda play is on the field his response has nothing to do with personal achievements or accolades.
"When the announcer says touchdown fighting eagles," Alexander-Raynor says with a smile " that just gets me going every time."
That is a response that would not surprise Coach Willert, who was effusive with his praise for Alexander-Raynor's leadership. "Around the locker room, in the weight room, he is one of the hardest working guys," Coach Willert continues, "he runs extra hills, he does the extra things, and when one of your best players does those things it just kinda rubs off on the rest of the players."
I was at their season-opening win against a tough Northwestern Guilford team. Alexander-Raynor's impact was immediately clear, as was his talent. The Eagles have a solid team on both sides of the ball but his abilities make their offense a must-watch. The team has state championship aspirations, and rightfully so.
Alexander-Raynor knows what it takes for the East Forsyth Fighting Eagles to reach their goals. He was a freshman on the 2019 state championship team and the feeling he and the rest of the players had after that game is one he has been chasing the last few years. "The feeling I felt, and all my teammates felt. You can tell by our reactions after the game. It was unreal" Jaylen recalls.
That is a feeling he wants to bring to the school once again in his final campaign before he starts the next chapter of his career at Arkansas State next fall.
I wouldn't bet against him.