NCAA Football News
Each year, one of the biggest events for rising high school quarterbacks comes around as the Elite 11 Finals take place in Beaverton, Oregon. Following months of grueling competition, the top 18 signal-callers in the nation will fight for a spot in the final Elite 11 list.
Whether they have already committed to a school for their college tenure or are waiting to announce their decision, the competition helps draw attention to every notable quarterback in the field. The Nike event draws plenty of attention, with each of the quarterbacks earning spots on a team at The Opening.
Much like Andrew Luck and Matthew Stafford before them, each field general hopes to enjoy a successful college career after the camp. Those notable alumni have helped build the foundation for the Elite 11, but who out of this year's crop will continue the history of success?
Here's a look at the entire field of competitors, per the event's official Twitter account:
Many of the top players in the nation will make their commitments at The Opening throughout the week, with one of those being 3-star quarterback Ross Bowers. According to 247Sports' "Crystal Ball" projections, Bowers is expected to choose California over Colorado State and several other programs.
With the event officially getting underway over the weekend, here's a look at the competition thus far.
Day 1 Recap
After getting acquainted with their fellow competitors on Saturday through several difficult workouts, the quarterbacks finally took the field during Day 2 of the event.
During a series of drills that tested every quarterback's speed and arm, several players stood out on Sunday. One player that had a strong showing was Kyler Murray, a dual-threat quarterback who has committed to Texas A&M.
Barton Simmons of 247Sports passes along footage of the young signal-caller during workouts:
Murray comes into the competition with plenty of hype as a 5-star player and is apparently showing the same potential at the Elite 11 finals.
Another quarterback looking great on the field is recent Alabama commit Blake Barnett. After announcing his decision to join the Crimson Tide last month, Chad Simmons of Scout.com notes that Barnett shined on Sunday:
Barton Simmons also provides a look at the zip on the ball from Barnett:
Either player has a chance to be one of the top at the camp, as both Murray and Barnett are ranked inside the top three in the 247Sports' composite rankings for dual-threat quarterbacks.
One other signal-caller just behind both Murray and Barnett also made a statement on Day 1. Brandon Wimbush, a 4-star quarterback committed to Penn State, is also ranked as a top-five dual-threat QB and showed off his athleticism on Sunday:
With just one more day on the schedule for the Elite 11 finals before The Opening officially starts on Tuesday, each player will continue to try to shine through on Monday. As players like Wimbush, Murray and others prove themselves, other signal-callers have a chance to blossom.
On Tuesday, each quarterback will find out which team they will play for during The Opening in the seven-on-seven tournament. With only a few days remaining, all 18 players will continue to look to prove they are worthy of making the final list of the famed Elite 11.
Though there weren't many on-the-field events going down, Saturday of the "campetition" was an eventful one for the blossoming signal-callers.
Simply arriving at the camp is an experience for every player in attendance. With just 18 quarterbacks making the cut, the Elite 11 Twitter account noted the arrival of the special field generals:
ESPN analyst and famed quarterback guru George Whitfield Jr. also provides a look at the field donning their new gear from Nike:
Along with their new clothes and shoes, the quarterbacks were also greeted by a familiar face.
After making their way to Beaverton, the players were treated to a memorable start to the event. Florida State's quarterback Jameis Winston, an Elite 11 alumnus who won the 2013 Heisman Trophy and National Championship, was part of the welcoming committee, via the Elite 11 account:
While the players were slowly getting comfortable in the finals environment, some were already plotting their plans for later in the week.
For now, only the quarterbacks have arrived for the Elite 11, but other top players will enter the fold during The Opening. One quarterback who plans to utilize the opportunity for recruiting will be USC commit Ricky Town, per Gerry Hamilton of ESPN:
Town committed back in January with the Trojans and is apparently looking to put more quality recruits around him at USC. He also commented on what he hopes to accomplish during the competition, per Barton Simmons:
It’s just an honor to be here. I’m trying to be part of the 11, be part of that fraternity and do the best that I can, and show that I am the best.
I think we’re all trying to compete here and prove we’re the best. I’m here just to compete against everyone, whoever I’m up against, I’m ready to compete and have fun.
Though it's an honor to make it to the finals, it's not all fun and games for the remaining players. Saturday saw all 18 of the quarterbacks take part in a series of strenuous tasks that pushed them all to the limits on Saturday and into Sunday.
Nike Football provides a look at the workouts:
With all of the player set to take the field on Sunday of the competition, Saturday set the stage for a tough camp that will help all of the top signal-callers. Heading into a week where they will look to separate themselves, every player will benefit from Saturday from a leadership standpoint.
Star ratings courtesy of 247Sports.
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The Texas A&M football team still does not know who will line up under center when the Aggies take the field on August 28 against South Carolina. There is a quarterback competition taking place, and it will continue into fall practice.
Johnny Manziel's decision to leave Texas A&M after his sophomore season and move on to the NFL has left the Aggies with youth and inexperience on the depth chart. Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin has proved before that he can produce a prolific offense with young quarterbacks.
The Aggies have been recruiting well at the position, and there is talent in the pipeline. Texas A&M fans are going to have to hope that talent can develop quickly so they can put a quality offense on the field in 2014.
If the young quarterbacks on the roster are able to develop and stay healthy, then the Aggies will be able to compete for the SEC title in 2014. If they have multiple injuries at the position, then the Aggies will struggle to qualify for a bowl game.
Kyle Allen is a true freshman quarterback from Desert Mountain High School in Scottsdale, Arizona. The 6'3", 200-pound gunslinger was the top-rated recruit in the country in 2014 according to 247Sports.com.
Allen passed for 2,535 yards and 29 touchdowns with 10 interceptions as a high school senior in 2013. He passed for 3,119 yards with 36 touchdowns as a junior. He has a strong arm and is very accurate inside the pocket and on the run.
Allen was able to enroll at A&M early and participated in offseason conditioning and spring practices. He ended spring practice listed atop the depth chart at the quarterback position.
Sumlin has started a true freshman quarterback before. In 2010, the first- and second-string quarterbacks for the University of Houston were injured in a game against UCLA. The Cougars were forced to finish the season with true freshman David Piland as their starting quarterback.
Piland started eight games for the Cougars and averaged 330.1 yards passing per game. He threw 24 touchdown passes against 14 interceptions.
The increased access granted to coaches during the summer should really expedite Allen's development. The NCAA's new rule means that Sumlin and his staff can observe Allen throughout the summer and basically give him an extra three months of instruction.
This new rule will decrease the experience gap between incoming freshmen and redshirt freshmen and sophomores in college football. There will not be as much of a shock to the system when practices and meetings start in August, and the freshmen should already have a solid understanding of the playbook when fall practice begins.
The Aggies begin the 2014 season on the road at South Carolina. You never know how a freshman is going to react in his first collegiate game, much less on a national stage in an unfriendly environment. Aggies fans are going to have to hope that Allen is able to keep his cool and simply execute Sumlin's offense.
Kenny Hill is a 6'2", 210-pound sophomore quarterback at Texas A&M. He saw action in four games, completing 72.7 percent of his passes with a touchdown and no interceptions.
Hill is a dual-threat quarterback who offers the Aggies more of a running threat than Allen does. If Sumlin and offensive coordinator Jake Spavital decide they want to keep a lot of the running components that Manziel added to the offense in place, then that would bode well for Hill.
Hill and Allen were neck and neck in the competition for the starting quarterback spot until Hill ran into some off-the-field trouble and was suspended for the remainder of spring practice. He passed out in a bar district in College Station and was arrested for public intoxication.
Hill was a 4-star recruit and the No. 8 ranked dual-threat quarterback in the 2013 recruiting class according to 247Sports.com. He led his Southlake Carroll High School team to the 2011 Texas 5A state title as a junior.
Hill split the second-team snaps in games with Matt Joeckel in 2013. Joeckel has since transferred to TCU to complete his career.
If Allen is the starter to begin the year as expected, then Hill will make a very capable backup. He has a year of experience in the system under his belt and has played in front of large crowds before.
Hill's ability to make plays with his feet cannot be discounted. Entering a season in which the Aggies do not know what to expect from their defense, the ability to extend drives and win the time-of-possession battle cannot be overlooked.
Hill has already proved that he can take the offense down the field and score a touchdown. He will be a very capable backup for the Aggies in 2014.
All the Rest
The Aggies enter the 2014 season with only two scholarship quarterbacks on their roster. There are three walk-on quarterbacks on the roster in Conner McQueen, Kobe Miller and Jordan Traylor.
Miller and Traylor are true freshmen who are just beginning to learn the system. McQueen is a 5'10", 175-pound sophomore from Klein, Texas, who earned a letter in 2013.
If Allen and Hill go down, then McQueen is the most likely candidate to go under center. The coaches would also likely consider converting one of their position players back to quarterback.
Senior receiver Malcome Kennedy led Cayuga High School to the Texas 1A state title as the quarterback in 2009. He would get a look under center as well as 6'5", 230-pound redshirt freshman receiver Ricky Seals-Jones.
Seals-Jones played quarterback during his injury-shortened senior season at Sealy High School in 2012. He is a tremendous athlete who has a decent arm and the ability to make people miss in open space.
If Allen and Hill go down, you would likely see the Aggies resort to a variation of the zone-read offense that emphasized their running backs. The season would turn into a fight for survival and a bowl game.
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If you want to see the future of college football, look no further than this year's Elite 11, featuring the best high school quarterbacks in the country.
The competition has been the proving ground for some of the best recruits to come along in the past few years. Andrew Luck and Jameis Winston are just two of the many stars to have honed their craft at Elite 11.
There's little doubt that this year's crop of incoming finalists includes future All-Americans and maybe a Heisman Trophy winner. You can see the field for the 2014 finals below, courtesy of the event's Twitter account:
Among the 18 taking part, the five stars below are the cream of the crop.
Ricky Town, USC
Ricky Town and Josh Rosen are the consensus top two QBs in the country. Some people will tell you Town's better; others prefer Rosen. The former ranks 27th overall in 247Sports' composite rankings and is listed as the second-best pro-style quarterback in the country.
Bleacher Report's Tyler Donohue wrote that those two would come to define the USC-UCLA rivalry over the next few years:
Instead, two of the top high school passers to emerge in recent years decided to stay close to home and sustain an increasingly familiar conversation.
Who's better? Town or Rosen?
That narrative will define a crosstown rivalry for the next half decade and may ultimately determine the outcome of future conference championships, national titles and Heisman Trophy races. Town and Rosen are eternally bunched together as quarterback prospects, and we can't wait to see what happens next.
USC is absolutely loaded at the QB position, with Cody Kessler, Max Browne and Jalen Greene. The fact that the Trojans continued pursuing Town is a testament to his ability. He's a great passer for this stage in his career, and the Elite 11 camp is a great opportunity for those few fans who've yet to watch Town throw to see what all the hype is about.
Kyler Murray, Texas A&M
Right or wrong, every dual-threat quarterback who steps on the field for Texas A&M will be compared to Johnny Manziel. Kyler Murray better get ready for the overwhelming amount of attention and expectation he'll have in College Station.
At least he has an endorsement from the legend himself:
Since he's listed as a dual-threat quarterback, Murray's accuracy and arm will likely be questioned. However, he's an extremely gifted thrower, especially on the run. Sure he's still a little raw, but that's to be expected of any incoming freshman QB.
What's so scary about Murray is that he's essentially a pro-style quarterback in a dual-threat body. He'll thrive in Kevin Sumlin's offense.
Blake Barnett, Alabama
What might Nick Saban be able to do with an athletic quarterback? That's the biggest question surrounding the Alabama offense after the Crimson Tide snagged Blake Barnett. The 4-star quarterback firmly falls into the dual-threat category and brings an athleticism that the Tide have lacked under center before.
Listed at 6'3.5" and 195 pounds on 247Sports, Barnett is a much better athlete than you'd think him to be. He's extremely adept at creating more time for himself in the pocket and throwing on the run.
AL.com's Matt Scalici pondered how Barnett might impact Alabama's offensive game plan, considering the pro-style offense has been the team's bread and butter:
As Saban has pointed out numerous times in recent years, having a quarterback who can make plays with his feet is useful in any style of offense and it's clear that bringing in a more athletic player under center is an idea that has been on Saban's mind for several years. In fact, Saban talked about the appeal of dual-threat quarterbacks during the spring.
"I think if you have a guy like that, it does create a lot of problems for the defense," Saban said in March during an interview with ESPN. "I think that as we go forward in the future, that we'd like to have that kind of quarterback as well. But we're still a pro-style type of offense. "
Saban is a master tactician, so if anybody can figure out a way to maximize Barnett's talent in a pro-style offense, it's him.
Brady White, Arizona State
Watching top recruits go outside of the college football elite is always interesting. Arizona State is far from a minnow, but the Sun Devils aren't exactly a top-10 team, either.
Todd Graham laid down a marker with the commitment of Brady White. ASU will be a threat in the Pac-12 South.
White is cut from the pocket-passer mold. He's very accurate, even on the deep throws over the top of the defense. Throws into tight coverage aren't a problem, either, as White knows exactly where to put the ball to avoid any damage.
You can see a Vine below of White working out at the IMG7v7 National Championship, via ESPN.com's Derek Tyson:
Arizona State has one 10-win season since making that Rose Bowl run in 1997. Maybe White can channel his inner Jake Plummer and help to make the Sun Devils nationally relevant again.
Jarrett Stidham, Texas Tech
You can't overstate how important the commitment of Jarrett Stidham could be for Texas Tech. This is the landmark signing that Kliff Kingsbury needed to take the Red Raiders to the next level:
Like Murray, Stidham has all the skills of a pro-style quarterback with the mobility and elusiveness of a dual-style quarterback. He's accurate, with the arm strength to make a variety of throws. If a play breaks down, the 4-star QB can also create plays with his feet.
You can't envision a better fit for Kingsbury's offense.
The Red Raiders made major strides on the field last season, and Kingsbury demonstrated his play-calling acumen. By securing Stidham, Kingsbury showed that he can become a major threat to the established powers on the recruiting trail, too.
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