Top Ten QBs: Scott Tolzien (Fremd, No. 4) and Riley Lees (Libertyville, No. 3)

  • Libertyville quarterback Riley Lees throws a pass during the Class 7A football championship game in 2015.

      Libertyville quarterback Riley Lees throws a pass during the Class 7A football championship game in 2015. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Riley Lees.

    Riley Lees.

  • Fremd quarterback Scott Tolzien (16) hands off during a game in 2004.

      Fremd quarterback Scott Tolzien (16) hands off during a game in 2004. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Scott Tolzien

    Scott Tolzien

 
 
Updated 5/4/2020 10:27 AM

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 Fremd's Scott Tolzein (No. 4) and Libertyville's Riley Lees (No. 3.

No. 4 -- Scott Tolzien (Fremd)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Like his father Mike at Prospect High School, Scott Tolzien played three sports at Fremd, including basketball and baseball.

The middle of three brothers who played football, Scott Tolzien's path to the NFL began with a stellar career at Fremd High School.

In two seasons under coach Mike Donatucci, Tolzien broke 15 school records. He completed 65 percent of his passes for 2,059 yards and 24 touchdowns and led the Vikes to playoff appearances each year.

Then it was on to Madison, Wis., where as the Badgers' QB he won the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award in 2010, edging out finalists Andy Dalton of TCU, Colin Kaepernick of Nevada, Christian Ponder of Florida State and Ricky Stanzi of Iowa.

Tolzien made his final collegiate start for Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl against Texas Christian, which featured one of the top defenses in the nation in 2011. In a 21-19 loss, he finished the game with 12 completions out of 21 attempts for 159 yards.

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After going 21-5 as the Badgers' QB, Tolzien wrapped up his college career at the East-West Shrine Game on Jan. 22, 2011.

Later in the year, he signed with San Diego as an NFL undrafted free agent. Tolzien threw for 302 yards and 1 touchdown in the 2011 NFL preseason but was released Sept. 3.

The next day he was picked up on waivers by the San Francisco 49ers. His seven-year run in the NFL also included stops in Green Bay and Indianapolis.

In 10 games (all with the Packers and Colts), he completed 88-of-146 for 1,065 yards while making two starts with each team.

In late November of 2018, Tolzien was drafted by Birmingham Iron of the Alliance of American Football but he retired before training camp.

Tolzien was hired as an assistant coach for the Dallas Cowboys in January, reuniting him with Mike McCarthy, who he played for in Green Bay as a third-string QB behind Aaron Rodgers.

No. 3 -- Riley Lees (Libertyville)

Before he became a two-time all-state football selection and led Libertyville to the 2015 Class 7A state championship game, Riley Lees provided a glimpse of his future greatness.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

And speed.

Pinch-running in the Class 4A state baseball championship game as a freshman in 2013, Lees raced home from second base on a single for Libertyville's only run in a 2-1 loss to Mt. Carmel.

The best was yet to come for Lees, especially on the football field.

As a sophomore, he started at wide receiver and also took snaps at quarterback. By his junior year, the starting-QB job was his, and he took off in more ways than one. With Lees at the controls of the offense, Libertyville jumped from 4 wins to 9, bowing out of the Class 7A state playoffs with a semifinal loss to Cary-Grove. Lees passed for 1,482 yards and 10 touchdowns and, more impressively, rushed for 1,799 yards and an eye-popping 35 touchdowns. He was named captain of the Daily Herald Lake County All-Area team and earned a spot on the IHSFCA all-state squad.

It got even better for Lees as a senior, as he directed the Wildcats to an undefeated regular season and their first state-title game appearance in 11 years. He sped for 2,451 yards and 33 TDs and passed for 2,002 yards and 28 TDs, four coming in the Wildcats' 32-28 loss to Glenbard West for the Class 7A championship. Named all-area captain for the second year in a row, he finished his career with 68 TDs on the ground and 38 through the air, in addition to catching 3 TD passes and returning a kickoff to the end zone.

Lees, who played three seasons of baseball for LHS, signed to play football with Northwestern University. As a junior for NU's Wildcats last fall, the 6-foot, 200-pound wide receiver started 12 games and caught 51 passes for a team-leading 430 yards and 2 TDs.

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