Few high school football players can match Devonte Christopher athletically.
Speedy, elusive with a quick release and an accurate arm, the Canyon Springs quarterback has the whole package.
But it is what he has between his ears that helped transform him from a good quarterback to the state's top offensive threat and the Review-Journal's Class 4A State Player of the Year.
"He was always a great athlete," Canyon Springs coach Matt Jenkins said. "It was the understanding of the game that allowed him to go to another level as a quarterback."
Christopher posted ridiculous numbers this fall. He completed 148 of 232 passes (63.8 percent) for 3,285 yards. He threw 44 touchdown passes in 11 games and was intercepted just nine times, with three coming in the team's final game.
"Athletically, he's very gifted, as gifted as they come in this state," Jenkins said. "There are others that have the same athletic ability, but I don't know if they have the football intelligence he has."
Christopher played receiver as a sophomore before moving to quarterback as a junior. He passed for 2,576 yards and 32 touchdowns that season, then continued to improve his understanding of the team's spread offense under the tutelage of Canyon Springs offensive coordinator Brandon Stott, a former assistant at Cornell.
"Devonte's smart," Jenkins said. "He listened and he learned."
Christopher parlayed that knowledge into a big senior season, leading the Pioneers to the Sunrise Region semifinals.
He had at least one touchdown pass in every game, and passed for five or more scores five times, as the Pioneers averaged 44.1 points per game.
He also was an explosive runner, rushing for 526 yards and eight touchdowns while averaging 9.6 yards per carry. His best rushing game came against Cimarron-Memorial early in the season when he ran for 180 yards, including an 89-yard TD burst.
But he curtailed his running in the second half of the season after an ankle injury. The injury didn't hurt his overall production, as he responded with 1,198 passing yards in the next three games, including back-to-back 400-yard games. He threw 17 touchdown passes in those three games.
"That ankle injury really helped him," Jenkins said. "I think it made him a better quarterback. It made him realize that I can just stay in the pocket and throw the football. I don't have to run around and make things happen."
Many colleges were looking at Christopher as a receiver or defensive back early, but his senior season has convinced at least some of them he can play quarterback at the Division-I level.
Utah has offered a scholarship to play quarterback, and Jenkins said the Utes and Stanford appear to be the leading candidates right now.
And the coach has little doubt his star can be a good college quarterback.
"Devonte's going to be successful in life, let alone on the football field," Jenkins said.
"At that level, it's all about commitment and work ethic. Everybody that walks on a college campus on scholarship is a good football player. It's going to come down to his ability to continue to be a student of the game and then his work ethic."
Contact Prep Sports Editor Damon Seiters at firstname.lastname@example.org or (702) 380-4587.