The comparisons have never been lacking, but there wasn’t much he could do to avoid them. If Tyler Gabbert wanted to play quarterback in high school, he was going to do it at Parkway West, and he was going to do it with the oversized shoes of big brother Blaine Gabbert waiting for him.
The shoes must have fit pretty well.
Because this time around little brother had a choice, and he chose the path that his brother blazed two years ago. Tyler Gabbert’s commitment to play football for Missouri last weekend marks the second time in the past three years a high school quarterback from Ballwin, Missouri named Gabbert committed to Nebraska only to later switch his college choice to Missouri. But an aborted future in Lincoln is merely the easiest similarity to see between the two brothers who are slated to once again share a sideline next season.
Look at them, and it’s easy to see that they’re brothers. It’s also easy to see that it’s the type of resemblance that leaves no question to who is the elder of the two.
Blaine Gabbert towers over his brother like he towers over most people. The 6-foot-5 Missouri sophomore is four inches taller than the brother two years his junior. And about 50 pounds heavier.
According to the recruiting experts, the disparities carry over to the field as well. While his older brother was lauded for his prototypical size and raw talent, Tyler Gabbert is said to rely more on his ability to use his feet and his knowledge of the offense. He’s more gritty than gifted.
But tell that to Tyler Gabbert, and it’s even easier to see that they’re brothers.
“People think you have to be huge to have a strong arm,” Tyler Gabbert said. "But I have as strong an arm as my brother.”
It’s easy to see not because it’s true, but because of the calm confidence in his voice, and the ingrained competitiveness that it exudes.
“When it comes to competitiveness, they both have it, and they have it at an extremely high level.” their father, Chuck Gabbert, said. “For them, it isn’t an option.”
It’s part of the reason that Chuck Gabbert isn’t worried about Tyler Gabbert possibly following his brother at Missouri. The two have always competed in similar environments. How would this be any different?
“It’s what he’s been doing his whole life,” Chuck Gabbert said. “They’re brothers. They’re always going to be brothers.”
Listen to Tyler Gabbert talk about his decision to go on a radio show from Omaha, and it’s easy to see that they’re brothers.
Verbal commitments have become somewhat of a pointless placeholder in the world of recruiting. It’s no more than a wink from across a crowded room. And they often aren’t honored without a second thought, let alone with a call to local radio broadcast to defend against the charges of treason.
But that’s not how things work in the Gabbert house, and it’s not how things work for a quarterback. Decisions, and actions come with the need to be accountable for them.
So he fielded the questions as they came. He explained that he didn’t know if he saw himself at Nebraska in five years. He expressed his concern about the cloudy future of the Nebraska offense, and about the worry that it wasn’t headed in the direction that he had envisioned.
Those are problems of the past since Gabbert’s commitment to Missouri. Instead of being stuck in a run-heavy offense, he will have the opportunity to compete for a quarterback position in a ramped-up version of the spread offense he loved at Parkway West. The offense that comes with some 40 pass attempts a game.
He cited his vision of himself in a different offense than the one at Nebraska. It was just one instance of him taking responsibility for his decision, and he did so without making excuses. He sounded much like his brother did after two fourth-quarter interceptions in loss to Nebraska this season. This was on him.
“I’m not going to hide behind anything,” Tyler Gabbert said. “My dad says that once you make a choice, you have to be a man about it.”
Inspect their high school statistics, and it’s easy to see that they’re brothers.
Chuck Gabbert said that he once read a story that referred to his younger son’s numbers as “pedestrian.” And that’s exactly what he hopes everyone thinks.
Parkway West isn’t much different now than it was during Blaine Gabbert’s tenure in the sense that its Big 12-caliber quarterback hasn’t been given the best of help. As a result Tyler Gabbert’s senior season stat line — 965 yards and eight touchdowns — isn’t going to impress anyone who might stumble upon it. But neither did his brother’s.
“If you were just judging statistics, you must have thought out of high school, ‘What are you guys talking about?’,” Chuck Gabbert said about both of his sons.
Chuck Gabbert realizes that it’s been a long time since the first round of those comments, and that his oldest son has lost any chance he might have to sneak up on teams. But there are still plenty of chances for the younger Gabbert to surprise.
“I hope people have that same assessment about Tyler when he plays.”
But it’s not just the hope that teams will make the same judgments about his younger son that they did about his older one. Chuck Gabbert knows that it’s easy for some people to see that they’re brothers. He’s just hoping that it’s not so easy for everyone. He’s hoping that instead of a shared competitiveness opposing coaches see four less inches and 50 less pounds.
“That’s the easy part,” Chuck Gabbert said of noticing the physical difference between the two. “That’s the simple thing. I hope teams in the Big 12 make that mistake in the future. That would be great.”