Surprises emerge among top QBs at Elite 11
BEAVERTON, Ore. -- At the Elite 11, throw the rankings out the window. It doesn't matter which quarterback is a five-star or which has a three-star grade entering the event. What matters most is what happens on the field, during chalk talk and from repetition by repetition.After three days of competition, Elite 11 coach Trent Dilfer said that in no order Sean White, Kyle Carta-Samuels, Kyle Allen, Deshaun Watson, Brad Kaaya and David Blough have emerged as the best of the 18 at the event.
White, the four-star pocket passer from Ft. Lauderdale (Fla.) University School of Nova South, continues to be one of the event's most pleasant surprises. Sure his offer list is quite long and includes Boston College, Cincinnati, USF, Syracuse, Wake Forest, West Virginia, as well as heavy attention from a number of SEC and ACC schools, but few expected him to steal headlines like he has.
"His accurate isn't just accurate," Dilfer said. "It's exact. It's an NFL type of ball. I'm stealing this from Steve Young, but he has an artistic ball. He paints a picture with his ball. He just doesn't throw a hinge. He throws the receiver open with the hinge. He just doesn't throw a skinny post. He sends a message with his skinny post.
While some of the other highly ranked passers haven't quite hit their stride yet, both Deshaun Watson (Gainesville, Ga./Gainesville) and Kyle Allen (Scottsdale, Ariz./Desert Mountain) have.
Watson, the No. 1 dual-threat quarterback and highest ranked player at the Elite 11, showed why Clemson made him its highest priority recruit for the 2014 class with a tremendous first three days. The same can be said about Allen, a Texas A&M commit who is the third-ranked pocket passer in the country."He's Mr. Consistency," Dilfer said. "He's got nothing working against him at this point. He does nothing bad. He does everything better than good. I'm going to challenge him to be great at The Opening."
Don't have to worry about that. With the lessons Allen is taking from the Elite 11, he's up for just about any challenge.
"This is not only improving me as a quarterback," Allen said. "It's improving every facet of my game and every facet of my life. They're giving us techniques on how to calm your breathing down. They have a psychological coach here. It's just the little things that give you the edge up on everyone else."
Watson, meanwhile, might have started slowly but picked up the pace quickly.
"Deshaun started a little sloppy, to be honest. He's an East Coast guy coming west, so I'm sensitive to that, especially the first day of the event. He lit everything up yesterday. He's a much better passer than he was in Atlanta. He is a sponge. For a highly touted kid that's had so many accolades for years, he embraces the journey of getting better with the best of them."
Miami commitment Brad Kaaya of West Hills (Calif.) Chaminade Prep was one of the top six passers after Saturday's drills, and he carried it through to Sunday. The 6-foot-4, 213-pounder showed early and often throughout Sunday's practice why the Hurricanes ventured all the way across the country to snag his commitment.
"He makes the extremely difficult look really easy," Dilfer said. "When you're looking for greatness in any walk of life, you want to find somebody that makes extremely difficult look easy. And he makes everything look incredibly easy."
Carrollton (Texas) Creekview three-star quarterback David Blough continues to turn heads as one of the event's biggest surprises. The Purdue commitment ranks as the nation's No. 42 pocket passer, but here he's showing he belongs with the best of the best. The same can be said about Kyle Carta-Samuels (San Jose, Calif./Bellarmine College Prep). The Vanderbilt commitment ranks as four-star prospect, but he has wowed with his intensity.
"David is so fiercely competitive," Dilfer said. "He's so determined to be the best he possibly can be. He doesn't let the pressure of that weigh him down.
"Much like David, Kyle's fiercely competitive. On a score of 1 to 5, he's a 6 on the competitive temperament. Trainability is another one of our evaluation points, and he'd be a 6 there again. His passing proficiency, which I thought would be in a 3, is probably 4-plus. He's hit the balance there."
Mitch Sherman contributed to this story.