How Texas ties landed Mike Leach two QB recruits at Mississippi State

Tyler Horka
Mississippi Clarion Ledger

Mike Leach is still a folk hero in Texas.

Think that's an exaggeration? Just look at Mississippi State's 2021 recruiting class. 

It's headlined by prospects from the Lone Star State. The crown jewel of the class is four-star quarterback Sawyer Robertson of Lubbock. You know, the West Texas city Leach called home for a decade and guided Texas Tech to its best seasons in program history, including the school's first ever 11-win season in 2008. 

Robertson was born in the middle of Leach's reign. Born and raised in Lubbock, he attended plenty of Tech games as a child. What does the 6-foot-4, 200-pound pro-style quarterback remembers? Plenty of points, lots of wins and a dang good time. 

"After he was gone, it's been the opposite of what that was," Robertson said. "They haven't been winning like they did when he was here, so he really established that culture when he was here. I think everybody misses it." 

Coronado quarterback Sawyer Robertson (12) scrambles against Azle in UIL 5A-D1 Area Playoff on Saturday, Dec. 19, 2020, at PlainsCapital Park at Lowrey Field in Lubbock, Texas.

Leach never had a losing season in his 10-year run at Tech. The Red Raiders have had three different head coaches and six losing seasons in the 10 years since he left. That has only added to Leach's lore in Lubbock and beyond. 

Leach recruited Robertson when he was the head coach at Washington State – a program Leach also led to its first ever 11-win season in 2018. Had Leach never fleeted Pullman for Starkville, Robertson might have very well signed with Washington State instead of Mississippi State. 

"There was a good chance," Robertson said. "I like everything he does. I like all that he's been able to do. I've been watching him my whole life and keeping up with it. Year in and year out putting up passing numbers like that, he was definitely somebody I wanted to play for." 

It's something that still hasn't set in for Robertson. 

"If you would have told me when I was 6 or 7 years old that I'd be playing for coach Leach, I would have called you crazy," Robertson said. "It's definitely a dream come true." 

Coronado quarterback Sawyer Robertson (12) runs the ball against Azle in UIL 5A-D1 Area Playoff on Saturday, Dec. 19, 2020, at PlainsCapital Park at Lowrey Field in Lubbock, Texas.

It's a dream come true for Daniel Greek too. 

Greek, a three-star quarterback from Argyle, Texas, was also recruited by Leach and his staff at Washington State. Wide receivers coach Dave Nichol visited Greek's school when he was a sophomore. WSU offered him a scholarship shortly thereafter. 

Greek grew up in Harlingen, Texas, some 640 miles and nine hours southeast of Lubbock. He didn't move to Argyle, 316 miles and four and a half hours east of Lubbock, until he was 9. Neither of those distances were enough to keep what Leach was doing at Texas Tech off his radar. 

"He's like the quarterback whisperer," Greek said. "His offense has always been top-tier. He holds a lot of respect for what he does. A big reason I chose Mississippi State is because we run a very similar offense to coach Leach's air raid." 

Liberty Christian isn't the only high school in Texas – or now, the nation – that operates a variation of Leach's offense. Teams are spreading out and throwing the ball in bunches. Leach is considered by many to be the father of that philosophy. 

Like Robertson, Greek was high on Washington State before Leach went to Mississippi State. There was also a good chance of him signing with WSU had Leach stayed there. 

Both recruits were able to visit Mississippi State's campus before the pandemic halted prospects from doing so. Seeing Starkville only reaffirmed what they already knew.

They were going to ultimately sign wherever Leach was coaching. He is seen in that bright of a light by the two Texas gunslingers. 

"The appeal to play for coach Leach was there the entire time," Greek said. 

Contact Tyler Horka at thorka@gannett.com. Follow @tbhorka on Twitter. To read more of Tyler's work, subscribe to the Clarion Ledger today!