Sunday, May 4, 2014
Dallas Elite 11 regional notebook
By Damon Sayles
ARLINGTON, Texas -- ESPN 300 quarterback and Texas Tech commit Jarrett Stidham battled against roughly 70 quarterbacks from 12 states to win the Dallas Elite 11 regional competition on Sunday and earn an invitation to the Elite 11 nationals this summer.
That was the first part of good news for those who follow Texas Tech football. Having Stidham confirm after the event that he doesn’t plan on taking any outside visits to schools may have been the news that made Red Raiders fans even happier.
Jarrett Stidham is one of Texas Tech's highest-ranked commits in recent years.
“That could change, but I doubt it,” Stidham said of taking visits. “I’m very solid on Tech. I like how it’s one big family, one big unit. Everyone’s there for each other. I like the way [Kliff] Kingsbury’s got the place going. It’s only a matter of time before things turn around. Guns up!”
Stidham is the eighth quarterback invited to the Elite 11 nationals, which will take place in July. He put on a passing show at AT&T Stadium and stepped his game up in the “Pressure Chamber,” the final-round obstacle course reserved for the day’s top competitors.
Stidham, the nation’s No. 2 dual-threat quarterback, committed to Texas Tech on March 7 and is one of the Red Raiders’ highest-ranked commits in recent years. He chose the Red Raiders over offers from Baylor, Oregon, Texas A&M, Texas, Alabama and other programs.
“It’s crazy. I was just looking forward to coming here, competing and being coached by one of the greatest quarterback staffs in the world,” Stidham said. “But it really worked out for me. I feel on top of the world.”
Possible Auburn visit for Murray
Uncommitted ESPN 300 prospect Kyler Murray, the nation’s top-ranked dual-threat quarterback, doesn’t have recruiting in the front of his mind right now. In addition to being a star quarterback, he’s also an outstanding baseball prospect who is leading his team through the Texas high school playoffs.
Murray has been adamant about not naming any favorites in his recruiting process, but Texas A&M is considered a heavy favorite, primarily because his father, Kevin Murray, played quarterback for the Aggies in the 1980s. Murray said he has visited “everywhere in Texas” and recently took a trip to Oregon, but on Sunday he added that he is looking to take a visit to Auburn.
Kyler Murray's family history could work in Texas A&M's favor.
Whether he makes it to Auburn depends on his baseball schedule and other happenings in his life. Murray said he’d like to make a final decision sometime before the start of the fall season but wouldn’t be against pushing a decision date back.
As for what he wants in a program, it’s pretty cut and dry.
“Somewhere I can play early, win, of course, and get a great education,” Murray said. “I want to have a great relationship with the quarterback coach.”
In addition to Texas A&M, Auburn and Oregon, Murray has offers from multiple schools representing the SEC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12 and ACC.
LSU visit on deck for WR Lodge
Every Elite 11 regional competition needs standout receivers to go along with the star quarterbacks. Players like Notre Dame commit Jalen Guyton, Boise State commit Akilian Butler and 2016 Reggie Hemphill were among the many receivers volunteering their services.
Uncommitted ESPN 300 wide receiver DaMarkus Lodge didn’t compete at the Elite 11, but he was in attendance cheering on his Cedar Hill, Texas, quarterback Justin McMillan. Lodge additionally took time out to discuss his recruiting plans, which include a visit to LSU at the end of the month.
“I’m going to visit LSU on the 27th [of May],” he said. “It’s the only [visit] I have planned right now.”
Lodge doesn’t have a top list, but he said he is getting plenty of love from LSU, Clemson, Florida, USC, Ole Miss, Texas A&M and a few other schools. Lodge said he’s looking to make a visit to LSU to learn more about the Tigers' pro-style offense.
“I like what they’re doing out there,” Lodge said. “The offensive coordinator [Cam Cameron] is one of the best in the league. He knows what he’s doing. Coach Adam [Henry] is a really good receivers coach. I just like the offense.”
Lodge said he doesn’t have a set date to announce his commitment, and he’s unsure if he will take any more unofficial visits after LSU.
Four-star Virgil set for SEC visit
Like Murray, four-star quarterback Chason Virgil competed in the Dallas Elite 11 for the third time. While Virgil didn’t win MVP, he was named a Golden Gunner and advanced to the “Pressure Chamber” round.
It was a confidence boost for a player who said he’s had to reopen his recruiting. Virgil originally had a top three of Arizona State, Auburn and Clemson, but with some quarterbacks committing and other quarterbacks getting new interest from those schools, Virgil decided it was best to make the process wide open once again.
“Right now, Mississippi State and Florida have been really on me,” Virgil said. “I still keep in touch with all the coaches. I just don’t have a top three or anything like that.”
Virgil said he will visit Mississippi State this weekend, but he is uncertain on any visits after that. He added that he wants to make a decision relatively soon after the upcoming visit.
“It’ll probably be a week or two after,” he said. “I want to make a decision so I can have time to get ready for a great senior season.”
Houston pledge impresses crowd, shuts down process
At the end of the event, Ben Hicks stood on the 40-yard line and threw a football at the field-goal crossbar -- a 50-yard length combined. He hit the crossbar, then motioned his index finger toward his mouth, symbolizing a hush of those who doubted him.
It was that kind of day for Hicks, the newest Houston commit who arguably had the most to gain from Sunday. Hicks was phenomenal throughout the competition, making it to the “Pressure Chamber” round and drawing chatter from several recruiting evaluators and Elite 11 coaches.
Hicks committed to Houston on Saturday. He said he doesn’t have any plans to open his recruiting to outsiders -- no matter how prestigious the offering program is.
“I still think some coaches will come down, but I’m pretty set,” Hicks said. “I love Houston, I love Coach [Tony] Levine, I love Coach [Travis] Bush. I’m pretty solid. It’s the family atmosphere with the coaches. I felt like I could really relate outside of playing football. Plus, it’s close to home. My mom wanted me to stay close to home where I can always get on the road and get home quickly.”
Hicks also had a Southern Miss offer and interest from Texas Tech, Utah, Indiana and other programs. Hicks said he isn’t planning on taking any visits or entertaining other schools.