Top Ten QBs: Clayton Thorson (Wheaton North, No. 6), Tommy Zbikowski (Buffalo Grove, No. 5)
Editor's note: The Daily Herald is counting down the Top 10 high school quarterbacks over the past 20 years, two at a time. We continue today with Wheaton North's Clayton Thorson (No. 6) and Buffalo Grove's Tommy Zbikowski (No. 5).
No. 6 -- Clayton Thorson, Wheaton North
Chuck Long, Kent Graham and Clayton Thorson.
When it comes to top Wheaton North quarterbacks, any list starts with Long and Graham, who both enjoyed Big Ten and NFL careers. But Thorson, while a relative newcomer after playing for the Falcons in 2012 and 2013, is a worthy addition.
"Wheaton North has been blessed to have a few great quarterbacks and I think Clayton belongs on that list," said Falcons coach Joe Wardynski. "He was just so unique with his size and speed and with his mental approach."
Despite splitting time behind center as a junior at Wheaton North, Thorson still garnered numerous college scholarship offers and committed to Northwestern. He dominated his senior season for the Falcons while carrying them to the Class 7A quarterfinals, throwing for 2,809 yards and 29 touchdowns and rushing for 567 yards and 12 scores.
Thorson was an Ironman at Northwestern even after suffering an ACL tear at the end of his junior season. He played 53 games in four years after redshirting his first year on campus. He finished with 10,731 passing yards and 61 touchdowns and led the Wildcats to four bowl game appearances and three wins.
He was drafted in the fifth round by the Philadelphia Eagles and signed to the Dallas Cowboys' practice squad before last season. With unproven options behind starter Dak Prescott, Thorson will compete for a roster spot.
"He can obviously make all the throws and has the prototypical look of a quarterback," Wardynski said. "But I don't think people give him enough credit for how athletic he is."
No. 5 -- Tommy Zbikowski, Buffalo Grove
A champion boxer long before football became his thing, Tommy Zbikowski was a tough, gritty dual-threat quarterback long before that became a thing, too.
Zbikowski, who learned to box as a kid and has gone on to do that professionally, was a three-year starter at Buffalo Grove where he quickly became one of the most highly recruited football players in the country. Zbikowski's recruiting journey was such a whirlwind that he was asked by ESPN to write an online diary about it
A 2003 graduate, the 5-foot-11 Zbikowski finished his final season at Buffalo Grove setting school records in scoring (202 total points) and rushing (2,357 yards for 32 touchdowns and a 7.4 yard-per-carry average). Zbikowski also played safety, which is the position he played as a star at Notre Dame.
As a sophomore at Notre Dame, Zbikowski played in every game and by his junior year, he was regarded as one of the best safeties in the country. He finished his career with the Irish as a two-time, third-team all-American.
Zbikowski was then selected in the third round of the 2008 NFL Draft by the Baltimore Ravens. He played safety for four seasons with the Ravens and then one season with the Indianapolis Colts. He then came home and signed a one-year deal with the Chicago Bears in 2013 but was released during training camp.
Zbikowski then retired from football and returned to the boxing ring, where he had been competing off and on since 2006. His last recorded boxing match was in 2017, a win. He finished his boxing career with an 8-0 record.
Now 35, Zbikowski trained to become a firefighter and got a job as a firefighter in Chicago.