Drake Maye, the first-year quarterback at Myers Park High, looks a whole lot like his brothers when you see him up close.
He’s got those bushy eyebrows like UNC All-American basketball player Luke Maye. And he’s got that “aw shucks” grin of Cole Maye, a left-handed pitcher at Florida.
“Man,” Drake said with a smile, “everybody says that.”
Both of his oldest brothers have won national championships. His mother, Aimee, was one of the best girls basketball players of the 1980s at West Charlotte. His father, Mark, was one of the best high school athletes ever at Independence High, starring in football, basketball and baseball.
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A third brother, Beau, is a 6-foot-9 junior at Hough High.
And Drake should have a real opportunity to add to his famous family’s long legacy this fall.
At 6-foot-4 and 190 pounds, Drake Maye will be the starting quarterback at Myers Park, a storied school that’s produced many famous alumni and many great athletes but never won a football or boys basketball state championship.
With 12 starters, 30 lettermen and Division I talent at many positions, this could be the year for the Mustangs.
They have two Division I receivers — Virginia Tech recruit Elijah Bowick and junior Muhsin Muhammad, son of the former Carolina Panther of the same name.
And the Mustangs have great size on the line, one of the region’s best defensive backs in Charlotte 49ers’ recruit Trey Bly — son of former UNC All-American Dre Bly — and one of the nation’s best safeties in Cameron Roseman-Sinclair.
But after graduating 2017 starter Brayden Hawkins, who threw for more than 2,700 yards, Myers Park needed a quarterback.
Mustangs coach Scott Chadwick said Maye literally fell into his lap.
Chadwick said Maye moved into Myers Park’s district with his father, transferring from Hough, which returns senior Kennique Bonner-Steward, a Temple recruit at quarterback this season. Brother Beau lives with his mother in the Hough district.
“We had some mutual friends that know (Maye’s family) and know me and said (changing schools) was something he was thinking about doing,” Chadwick said. “He was literally here for the first day of summer practice in early June. I saw a kid that’s very physically talented and pretty athletic for a guy his size. I knew right away that he was special.”
Chadwick remembers in a 7-on-7 scrimmage at Rock Hill Northwestern, he had freshman backup quarterback Owen McCown, the son of potential New York Jets starter Josh McCown, in the game when one of his receivers got the wind knocked out of him.
He asked Maye to sub in. Maye ran in a straight line down the field. McCown threw a perfect pass high, over a shorter defensive back. Maye, in his coach’s words, “sort of nonchalantly” jumped over the defender and made an impressive catch.
Then, he got mobbed by his teammates.
“Honestly,” Chadwick said with a hearty chuckle, “that was one of the best catches we’ve had here in years.”
And Maye has only continued to impress Chadwick — and his teammates. Chadwick talks about his arm strength, about how Maye knows how to use his fastball and when to throw it with touch. He talks about how Maye can read defenses and knows where to place the football.
Maye credits a lot of that to his father, who was a record-setting All-American quarterback in high school and later played at North Carolina before a shoulder injury short-circuited what looked like a sure-fire NFL career.
“My dad started me playing quarterback in first or second grade,” Maye said. “He’s helped me out since then, giving me pointers about coverages, throwing, technique stuff. It’s really helped out.”
In a scrimmage at Rock Hill High last week, his first real game-like situation, Maye completed 12-of-14 passes for 205 yards and three touchdowns.
“He can really throw the ball,” said Myers Park’s Bowick, the two-time All-Observer receiver headed to Virginia Tech. “He’s a nice asset. When he came in, he really surprised me and some of our receivers. ... I’m pretty sure, down the road, as he gets older and matures, he’s really going to be a dominant quarterback.”
But what Bowick is looking for, what his team is looking for, is for Maye to be good right now.
Myers Park has a shot at a fourth straight winning season. That’s something the school hasn’t had since 1979, when it finished off a seventh straight. But from 1980-2014, the year Chadwick arrived, the Mustangs got just six more winning seasons.
In 2016, Myers Park was 11-2 and tied the school record for wins. In 2017, Myers Park was 12-2 and broke that record, winning a share of its first Southwestern 4A conference title since 1983.
This year, the Mustangs realistically feel they can go all the way. To get there, they’ll need Maye to be really good. Really fast.
He said he’s ready. His coach said it, too.
“It’s scary to think about where he could be over his career,” Chadwick said. “I do think you have to temper that right now because he’s never started a high school game before. But he does some really good things for us. Just watching his skill set, he’s been very, very impressive.
“I think he’s ready for this.”
Editor’s Note: The Observer is previewing all 16 teams in its preseason Sweet 16 poll. The order will be revealed before the season kicks off Aug. 15.
MYERS PARK MUSTANGS
Head Coach: Scott Chadwick (20th year overall, 147-79).
2017 Record: 12-2
2018 conference: Southwestern 4A.
Key Players: Elijah Bowick, Sr., WR (6-1, 215); Muhsin Muhammad, Jr., WR (6-1, 185); Jaylen Nichols, Sr., RT (6-6, 305); Juwan Truesdale, Jr., LT (6-6, 310); Trey Bly, Sr., CB (5-8, 160); Cameron Roseman-Sinclair, Jr., S (6-0, 205); Jordan King, Sr., DT (6-1, 360); Jake Harkelroad, Sr., LB (5-11, 210); Drake Maye, So., QB (6-3, 190) (Hough transfer).
Outlook: Myers Park set a school record for wins in back-to-back seasons, including winning a share of the Southwestern 4A conference title for the first time since 1983. This year’s team returns 12 starters, 30 lettermen and Division I talent is everywhere. This could be the best Mustangs team in school history.