Posted on: February 21, 2012 1:01 pm
Edited on: February 21, 2012 1:14 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
The class of 2012 is, with one notable exception, signed and done with. That means it is time to turn everybody's attention to the class of 2013 and keep it there. Here are a few storylines to follow on the road to the first Wednesday in February next year - in no particular order.
1. Will Nick Saban be able to close on the country's top prospect?
Nick Saban has certainly earned the title of the country's top recruiter after pulling in the top overall class (or close to it) since arriving in Tuscaloosa. The one thing he hasn't done, however, is land the nation's top recruit. In the class of 2012, he went after Dorial Green-Beckham but couldn't make the final cut. A year before Saban narrowly lost out on Jadeveon Clowney to South Carolina. Is the third time the charm in Grayson (Ga.) defensive end Robert Nkemdiche?
One of the top athletes to play the position coming out of high school, Nkemdiche can play multiple positions in college and has something that you rarely see in some recruits - the drive to be great. At this point, most expect him to sign with the Crimson Tide but in recruiting, as in life, things sometimes have a way of making an unexpected turn. His high school head coach played on an Alabama national championship squad and Nkemdiche has gotten the full court press from the staff for a while. Still, he's listed other schools, taken visits to some like Georgia and has his brother at Ole Miss. It looks good for Saban but we won't find out for sure until next February.
2. Who wins the battle of the Midwest behemoths?
The past year has seen Midwest recruiting go from some yawns and a few eyebrow raises to must-read headlines on a daily basis thanks to Brady Hoke and Urban Meyer recruiting like mad. Hoke had the country's top recruiting class before ever coaching a game and Meyer was able to land an impressive class doing the same. It's been an interesting transformation in the Big Ten over the past few months and turned the conference into two programs and a cloud of dust.
Both are off to a very solid start with the class of 2013 with plenty of momentum from signing top five classes earlier this month. The Buckeyes have landed elite guys like Trotwood (Ohio) linebacker Cam Burrows and are certainly in the mix for plenty of top 100 players. The Wolverines had a monster recruiting weekend to power them to a total of 11 commits, and have a headliner (and one of the top quarterbacks in the country) in Shane Morris. Should be a fun few months as each program jockey's to out do the other on the recruiting trail.
3. Is this the class where being in the SEC really comes into play for Missouri and Texas A&M?
There's no doubt the move to the SEC played a role in the Aggies landing a top 15 class and the Tigers getting a commitment from the number one player in the country but the class of 2013 can really be a selling point for both staffs. More than anything, it gives recruits a chance to watch A&M play Alabama and Florida, see how their fans travel, what the coverage of the team is like and if Mizzou's James Franklin can top Vanderbilt's James Franklin.
Already Kevin Sumlin has jumped out to a big start and has more commitments than anybody in the country right now. He's gotten quality as well as quantity to boot. What remains to be seen is what happens if things take a turn for the worse this season on the field. Will doubts creep into recruits' minds if either school has issues and struggles to get wins? It's something to keep an eye on but, for the moment, things are looking good as each joins the best conference in the country.
4. How will realignment help/hurt West Virginia?
Realignment has made the Mountaineers very interesting on the recruiting trail. There was a lot to like about Dana Holgorsen's first year, capped off with a blowout win in the Orange Bowl and Geno Smith likely entering 2012 as a legitimate Heisman candidate. The staff had a solid effort in recruiting and really got some speedsters out of Florida and from close by (such as Deontay McManus to the right) to sign up for the ride to the Big 12. Yet it's clear that there will be a emphasis on recruiting Texas and the South more with the change in conferences.
As my colleague Bruce Feldman pointed out to me yesterday, all but one of the assistants on staff has ties to the Big 12 footprint and several know the back roads in Oklahoma and Arkansas very well too. Holgorsen's wide open offense will no doubt be a good selling points for kids running the spread across the South and maybe, by hiring defensive staff members with area ties the recruits on the other side of the ball will take a look at the Mountaineers in this cycle as well. Should be an interesting look at how the program handles playing in the Big 12 this year and going forward and whether that translates in terms of recruiting as well.
5. How many does USC sign in year two of scholarship cuts?
If you doubted Lane Kiffin's ability to recruit, well, you must not pay a ton of attention. Despite getting slapped with deep scholarship cuts, the oft-bashed head coach enters 2012 with a preseason top two team and just signed a top 10 class with some elite talent. A pair of All-Americans at wide out were no deterrent to Nelson Agholor, who was lured to USC from Florida. There were a few offensive line targets that the Trojans missed out on late - they still signed a great class at the position - but that might turn out to be a blessing in disguise because they can take a few early enrollees to boost numbers.
Bottom line, who and how many Kiffin's staff sign will be a storyline worth following on the West Coast.
6. Who emerges during the spring and summer camp circuit?
One of the reasons why recruiting evaluation have tended to improve over recent years is the rise in getting a look at top players competing against other top players on the offseason camp circuit. It's also allowed those in the industry to discover more guys who don't back down from a challenge and have the speed and skills to be FBS-caliber talent. Because recruits are not in pads, we don't get a complete picture of a player but we can find out even more about how they play and how their recruitment is going. In many ways, the camps and combines that happen across the country from late February through early July will allow everybody to see who's an elite recruit and who we need to keep an eye on when the pads come on during the fall.
7. What impact will social media have on the class of 2013?
Ask any of the class of 2012 about Twitter and Facebook and they'll say it's changed recruiting. Players from across the country are getting to know each other more and more, going beyond just texting back and forth to DMing and Wall posting as early commitments explain to others why their school is the place to be. Recruiting is becoming more and more interconnected and there is no doubt that the 2013 group will be at the forfront of the new wave of change.
Forget hat dances, keep an eye on how many top 100 guys commit via Twitter. Should be a lot more than last year.
8. Who is the top quarterback nationally?
Upside, production, measurables, arm strength... there are plenty of things that go into deciding who the top quarterback in the country is. The candidates are out there and it will likely boil down to one of Max Browne, Tyrone Swoopes, Shane Morris, Ryan Brurns, Kevin Olsen and a handful of others competing to be the top signal-caller in the final rankings. It's important to keep in mind that quarterback is one position that should see plenty of movement as players go through spring ball, camps, 7-on-7, Elite 11 competitions and finally their senior season.
Olsen, Burns and Browne are your typical pro-style quarterbacks with the size coaches look for and big arms to boot. Swoopes is a dual-threat who some have compared to Robert Griffin III or Vince Young because of how electric he is with the ball in his hands. Morris is the rare lefty that is vying for top billing. Several others are hot on their heels in order to be considered part of the elite QB group in 2013 and will be interesting to see how each does as the pressure mounts each passing week.
9. Can Stanford keep things going?
When was the last time you talked about Stanford recruiting? Prior to the class of 2012: rarely if ever (provided you are not the type that tailgates with wine). All the Cardinal did this year was snag a top 10 class and land one of the best group of offensive line recruits in the modern recruiting era. But can the program keep the momentum going with out Andrew Luck leading the charge on the field? That's a question everybody is asking and at first glance, the answer appears to be yes.
Since David Shaw, a former Stanford player himself, returned to Palo Alto as an assistant under Jim Harbaugh, the program has had a remarkably high success rate when recruiting. If an offer goes out and that player qualifies, there's a very good chance that player will end up signing. The hit rate for Stanford the past few years has been nothing short of remarkable considering the restrictions the staff is under but there's no doubt the education, new stadium, major league and BCS-level success that has happened in the Bay Area has turned the program from doormat to door opener. Should be fun to follow over the next few years.
10. Does somebody finish their class before the season?
Michigan, Texas A&M, Florida and Texas are off to hot starts. The Longhorns are taking a very small class this year so they could wind up filling up with only limited room for recruits based on who leaves for the NFL early. The other schools are recruiting at a pace that will have local analysts taking a vacation much earlier than normal. So, we're left to wonder, could somebody actually get 90% or more of their commitments before the season starts?
Tags: Alabama, Andrew Luck, Big 12, Brady Hoke, Bruce Feldman, Bryan Fischer, Cam Burrows, Dana Holgorsen, David Shaw, Deontay McManus, Dorial Green-Beckham, Elite 11, Florida, Geno Smith, Jadeveon Clowney, James Franklin, Jim Harbaugh, Kevin Olsen, Kevin Sumlin, Lane Kiffin, Max Browne, Michigan, Missouri, Nelson Agholor, NFL, Nick Saban, Ohio State, Orange Bowl, Robert Griffin III, Robert Nkemdiche, Ryan Burns, SEC, Shane Morris, South Carolina, Stanford, Texas, Texas A&M, Tyrone Swoopes, Urban Meyer, USC, Vince Young, West Virginia
Posted on: February 9, 2012 1:26 pm
Edited on: February 9, 2012 1:50 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
The class of 2012 was so last week and it's time for everybody to turn their attention to the Class of 2013. This class may or may not be as talented as last year's group but it has a lot of high end talent even if it's not as deep. Here are 25 recruits just about everybody should know from coast-to-coast.
Photo by Dennis Carter/MaxPreps.com
Tags: ACC, Adam Breneman, Alabama, Altee Tenpenny, Auburn, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Cameron BUrrows, Dee Liner, Derrick Griffin, Derrick Henry, Eddie Vanderdoes, Georgia, Greg Bryant, Jake Raulerson, Kendall Fuller, Kenny Bigelow, Laremy Tunsil, Marquez North, Max Browne, Max Redfield, Michael Hutchings, Michigan, Non-BCS, Ohio State, Ole MIss, Oregon, Reuben Foster, Robert Nkemdiche, SEC, Shane Morris, Su'a Cravens, Texas, Texas A&M, Thomas Tyner, Ty Isaac, Tyrone Swoopes, USC, Vernon Hargreaves
Posted on: January 8, 2012 12:49 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
SAN ANTONIO, Texas -- The 2012 U.S. Army All-American Bowl has wrapped up and attention is already turning to the next wave of top recruits who will venture to the Alamodome a year from now. The bowl announced the first 20 additions to the 2013 roster Saturday evening, featuring the top rising seniors from coast-to-coast.
Kenny Bigelow (Red Lion Christian; Bear, DE)
Max Browne (Skyline; Sammamish, WA)
Ryan Burns (Stone Bridge; Ashburn, VA)
Cameron Burrows (Trotwood-Madison; Trotwood, OH)
Su'a Cravens (Vista Murrieta; Vista Murrieta, CA)
Kendall Fuller (Our Lady of Good Counsel; Olney, MD)
Ahmad Fuller (Bishop Kenny; Jacksonville, FL)
Austin Golson (Prattville; Prattville, AL)
Derek Griffin (Terry; Rosenberg, TX)
Peter Kalambayi (Butler; Matthews, NC)
E.J. Levenberry (E.D. Hylton; Woodbridge, VA)
Daniel McMillian (First Coast; Jacksonville, FL)
Dorian O'Daniel (Our Lady of Good Counsel; Olney, MD)
Khalil Rodgers (Red Lion Christian; Bear, DE)
Garrett Sickels (Red Bank; Little Silver, NJ)
DeSean Smith (Barbe; Lake Charles, LA)
Tyrone Swoopes (Whitewright; Whitewright, TX)
Laremy Tunsil (Columbia; Lake City, FL)
Nick Washington (Trinity Christian; Jacksonville, FL)
Eli Woodard (Eastern; Voorhees, NJ)
Tags: 2012 U.S. Army All-American Bowl, 2013 U.S. Army All-American Bowl, Ahmad Fuller, Alamodome, Army All-American Bowl, Austin Golson, Cameron Burrows, Daniel McMillian, Derek Griffin, DeSean Smith, Dorian O'Daniel, E.J. Levenberry, Eli Woodard, Garrett Sickels, Kendall Fuller, Kenny Bigelow, Khalil Rodgers, Laremy Tunsil, Max Browne, Nick Washington, Peter Kalambayi, Ryan Burns, Su'a Cravens, Tyrone Swoopes
Posted on: June 22, 2011 12:16 pm
Edited on: June 22, 2011 12:51 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
SEATTLE – The 13th and final stop on the annual Nike Training Camp schedule made it's way back to the Northwest, and plenty of elite talent came out to Husky Stadium to compete. While these events are typically a time for the skill-position players to impress, the offensive linemen were actually the ones who stole the show.
Puyallup (Wash.) offensive tackle Joshua Garnett showed why he was a Top 100 prospect by flat-out dominating the opposition.
"I'm just happy to be out here, glad to get the MVP today,” Garnett said. “Definitely glad I didn't lose any one-on-ones, the only lineman that didn't lose any. Went over to the defensive side of the ball and won three of the four reps on defensive line, felt pretty good about that. Definitely showed my athleticism on both sides of the ball."
Garnett wasn't the only top offensive lineman in attendance. One of his good friends, Top 100 tackle Zach Banner, also participated. While the two play the same position and therefore didn't really go head-to-head, Garnett had no problem mentioning that he won the MVP award.
“Oh yeah, it felt good,” Garnett said. “He likes to talk a lot, he's a little louder than I am if you guys didn't notice. I'm definitely a little more calm, more mellow. I think it's good to come out and show people my talent. Just because I'm not 6-9, 350, I can still play and do the same exact stuff.
"When we go out in public, people say, 'Jeez, is that Zach Banner?' then we'll come out here in the drills and they'll see my athleticism. I'm not saying he's not, but he did allow some guys to go inside. Definitely I think it's good to come out here and show the difference."
The pair are so close that as recruiting has taken off, they've been able to talk and bounce ideas off each other. One idea many observers have floated is that the two are a package deal, and Garnett does not shy away from the fact that the two might end up at the same school.
“We're definitely going to be looking at the same schools, we're good friends,” he said. “We're going to look at the same schools just because of that chemistry we have together.
“Looking at Zach's list, there's going to be a couple schools that aren't going to be on (my list), probably about three or four of them. Me and Zach have different goals going to college. I'm really big into the football, don't get me wrong I want to play football, but I'm going to be looking into medical school and looking more at a pre-med program than I am a football power. I know I can can go to Florida or Miami or any SEC school, but I want to look at my life past if I played in the NFL.”
The 6-foot-5, 300-pounder is ranked 43rd in the country for the class of 2012 by MaxPreps. The four-star prospect is focused on life off the field as much as he is on it when it comes to recruiting. The biggest thing he's looking for is a program that allows him to succeed on the field while also preparing him for a career in medicine. Coincidentally, there was a top school across the street from where he was performing Sunday.
“U-Dub, obviously they have a great medical school,” Garnett said. “No. 1 medical school in the nation, so I'll definitely talk to some of the biology teachers and stuff. I'm definitely looking at U-Dub hard, and it helps them an awful lot having this medical school right next to it.
“Next week me and my dad are planning on going down to Stanford and Cal. My uncle lives close to Pasadena, in Upland, so we're going to go to UCLA and 'SC just to see those schools.”
Garnett holds more than 30 scholarship offers from powerhouses across the country, but at least two West Coast programs are sticking out as recruiting him the hardest.
“SC is coming after me hard, and so is Cal-Berkley, probably the hardest,” Garnett said.
Banner narrows list, impresses at Nike Camp
While Garnett is the athletic tackle that coaches look for, Lakewood (Wash.) offensive tackle Zach Banner is the mammoth left tackle prototype that has coaches drooling over his 6-foot-8, 320-pound frame. He performed well Sunday and left no doubts that he was an elite college recruit.
“I feel like I did good, I came out here and worked my tail off,” Banner said. “I got invited to The Opening and it's all a blessing. Me and Josh are going to go down there together. We've been working our tails off this whole spring and summer, and it's paying off for us. I know it's paying off for me, and coaches are seeing it.”
Like his good friend Garnett, Banner enjoys some healthy competition and felt the camp setting brought out the best in the both of them, even if he wasn't the one taking home the MVP award.
“Definitely. Even though we play the same position, we both come out to prove that we're the best,” Banner said. “It's always friendly competition, and we'll go back and laugh at it.”
On a strong year for West Coast linemen, Banner stands out literally and figuratively. Ranked 12th overall in the class of 2012, he has no problem answering who is the top offensive lineman in the state, much less the country.
“Yes, yes I do,” he said, confirming he was the state's top dog. “You think about it, me and Josh, we're best friends. If they were a defensive end or someone who played across from me, then it would be pure battle. Not only do we play the same position, but we work out together, we're good friends, we're getting recruited by the same person.
“We care about getting better, and I know, for sure, both of us got better today.”
On the recruiting front, Banner holds offers from just about every school in the country and has started the process of narrowing things down.
“I gave out my top nine earlier this week and in no particular order, it's U-Dub, Oregon, Notre Dame, Michigan, Alabama, USC, LSU, Florida State and Oklahoma,” he said. “I'm just narrowing it down as we go. I'm about to go into my senior year, so you have to do it sooner rather than later and I just felt like the nine, I'm not cutting anybody off.
“I'm going to narrow it down to a top five in December. I'll take all five of my official visits. No unofficials scheduled, but I do have two officials scheduled ... Michigan on Sept. 10 for the Notre Dame game and I'll be there all weekend for those two days. Then Notre Dame on Oct. 21 and 22 for the USC game. They're both good, and Michigan's game is the first night game there ever and the Notre Dame game will be the first night game in like 25 years. ”
Husky commits have friendly competition
Banner and Garnett were not the only players who had a healthy competition going. The two quarterbacks committed to the University of Washington, Denver signal caller Cyler Miles and Mercer Island (Wash.) quarterback Jeff Lindquist, both threw well this weekend as a preview of what's to come over the next four or five years for the Huskies.
“A little bit I guess,” Miles said when asked about the competition. “He's a cool guy, and I've got a lot of respect for him. He's a great quarterback, and I like him a lot. It's going to be fun. We're going to make each other better and wherever you go, there's going to be quarterbacks so it will be a good competition.”
“I met him today, so it was nice to get that relationship started,” Lindquist said. “In terms of competition, it was more of a friendly competition and trying to make each other better. There was no dirty mouthing or anything like that.”
The 6-foot-4, 225-pound Miles enjoyed meeting Lindquist and several other future Washington teammates, who he ended up throwing to on a few occasions once he was warmed up.
“I felt I did all right, I was a little rusty at first,” he said. “It was good to interact with all the guys, a couple of whom have already committed just like me, so it was good to just hang with them. It was nice to see where I'm going to be at the next four years.”
The overcast skies forced the organizers to turn on the lights at Husky Stadium which was fine by Miles. The experience of playing on the turf and throwing into the end zone with big Washington lettering was a nice experience for him.
“It was nice, big old stadium with about 75,000 ...,” Miles trailed off, thinking about playing on the field in a few years. “It's great, though, to picture myself here next year and the year after that. It's exciting and something to look forward too.”
Miles pulled the trigger on a commitment to Washington just a few weeks ago in large part because of the relationship he developed with the coaching staff there.
“I just love the relationships the coaches have with the players,” he said. “It's a good fit for me because of the offense. I love the Pac-12 and the coaches, they were the ones most sincere with me, my mom and dad. I just felt like this fit me best.”
With two quarterbacks in the fold for 2012, both are continuing to spread the gospel about the Pac-12 program and trying to recruit a few others for the upcoming class.
“I'm trying to get Garrnett and Banner,” Miles said. “I'm just talking to them a little bit, at the end it's their choice. I'd love for all of them to come here and help build this program as it's rising up.”
“We'll probably get that coordinated,” Lindquist said of the two tackles. “We'll chip in here and there. I don't want to annoy them, but we'll get in a word here and there.”
Neal impresses once again
Scottsdale (Ariz.) athlete Davonte Neal is no stranger to the camp circuit. He's performed at both the LA and Stanford Nike Camps among others, and he surprisingly showed up in Seattle, hungry to improve his game.
"I felt I did good, but there's still some things I could work on,” Neal said. “I'm never satisfied, I'm always hungry and try and stay humble and keep working."
Neal's father, who handles all of his recruiting, showed up to watch his son in a UCLA sweatshirt on the chilly day. The younger Neal made sure to remind everybody that his dad was just trying to adjust to the weather, which was just a little bit different from the triple-digit heat at home.
"No, no, no, no indication at all, it's just to keep warm, that's all,” he said. “That's why he's wearing that and I'm wearing it and I have a Nike sweater on."
The 5-foot-9, 170-pound athlete showed off his athleticism all day and played at a high level at both receiver and corner. Schools are recruiting him at both, but Neal has no preference where he'll play at the next level.
"I feel comfortable at both positions," he said. "If they want to put me at receiver, I'll play receiver; if they put me at corner, I'll play corner. It doesn't matter, I just want to get on the field. Either/or, it doesn't matter to me. They're recruiting me as both. Some as receiver, some as corner. It just depends on where they want me to play."
Neal holds offers from more than 25 schools but plans on pushing all his official visits and a decision until after the football season.
"There is no list," he said. "There's only undecided. A lot of people are recruiting me heavily. They're all really pushing hard, but I just let my dad handle the recruiting and I just play football.
"I'm just relaxing until after my senior season. ... I'll take all five officials, but I'm just going to do them all after the season when I have a lot of free time."
Led by quarterback and Texas commit Connor Brewer, Neal is focused on helping Chaparral High, ranked No. 24 in the country by Maxpreps, to success yet again in his senior season.
"We're going to be good. Hopefully we'll get that three-peat,” Neal said. “That's going to be on our shirts."
-- One of the players who Neal frequently battled against -- on both sides of the ball -- was Lakewood (Wash.) athlete Cedric Dozier. The two would have one rep where Neal was the receiver and Dozier playing the press corner, and then they'd flip around. Their match-up was pretty even, and Dozier felt it helped him improve his all-around game.
“I did all right for the most part,” Dozier said. “I competed with a lot of good players from all over, and it really forced me to step up. There's competition and you've got to play. I didn't come here just to play no nobodies. You've got to come out here to play. There's people from all over that's really good, and that means you have to step up.”
Dozier said he's completely open as to what school he'll attend, but Cal and Washington are recruiting him the hardest. He'll likely make a decision after the season.
-- Washington commit Michael Rector made his pledge public just a few days before the camp and, it turns out, there was a reason for making a commitment earlier than he had originally planned.
“At first my parents and I wanted to wait until July or after school,” he said. “With a new receiver (Dwayne Washington) committing too, they were only going to take two, so we thought about it the day before school was out and thought it wasn't too soon to make the decision.”
Rector tried to hook up with the two Husky quarterbacks as much as he could while at the camp in order to start developing timing before any of them even stepped on campus for college.
“It was fun,” he said. “We got together whenever we could and ran routes and stuff. We like it a lot, and we're looking forward to it.”
The most impressive quarterback at the event was not the pair of commitments to Washington but rising junior Max Browne. He impressed earlier this year at the Stanford Elite 11 and recently picked up an offer from Clemson. He grabbed the MVP award and displayed a very strong arm, fluid motion and was able to make all the throws. Lefty Matt Morin, also a regular on the camp circuit, also impressed.
-- Everett (Wash.) running back Keivarae Russell took home running back MVP honors and showed the ability to get into and out of breaks very quickly. Seattle cornerback Jayshawn Jordan won the defensive back award and performed well, playing his man and the ball closely.
Tags: ACC, Alabama, Big 12, Big Ten, Cal, Cedric Dozier, Clemson, Connor Brewer, Cyler Miles, Davonte Neal, Florida, Florida State, Jayshawn Jordan, Jeff LIndquist, Joshua Garnett, Keivarae Russel, LA Nike Camp, LSU, Matt Morin, Max Browne, Miami, Michael Rector, Michigan, NFL, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pac-12, SEC, Stanford, Stanford Nike Camp, Texas, UCLA, USC, Washington Nike Camp, Zach Banner, Zach Banner
Posted on: May 14, 2011 3:24 am
Posted by Bryan Fischer
PALO ALTO, Calif. -- Some of the most talented quarterbacks from up and down the West Coast descended upon the beautiful campus of Stanford and in the process, turned the 2011 edition of the Bay Area Elite 11 into the circuit's best stop. While most of the quarterbacks in attendance were already committed to a school, several under the radar players managed to make an impression on observers as well.
The headliner of the group was Cal commitment Zach Kline. The 6-foot-2, 210 pound quarterback had a slow start to the day but finished strong and was easily one of the top performers.
"I actually started the camp out a little shaky," Kline said. "The coaches started to get on me and say I'm better than that. I started to put 100% focus into every throw and you have to do that on every single one at the next level. If you don't, that's when the picks and incompletions happen and that separates the Andrew Luck's from all the other guys. Once I started (focusing better), I had a great camp from then on."
One of the camp instructors was former NFL quarterback Trent Dilfer. Although Kline won't get to work with Cal head coach Jeff Tedford - known in the past for quarterback development - for a few more months, being put through the paces by Dilfer at the camp was quite the learning experience.
"He's an intense guy but when he's yelling, it's for a reason," Kline said of Dilfer. "You kind of learn to listen to what he's saying and not how he's saying it. When you listen like that, that's how you get the best things out of when he's coaching you. You listen to what he has to say and then you use it. It helps leaps and bounds."
Normally the Bay Area Elite 11 is held at Cal's Memorial Stadium. Kline preformed well there last year and though he had to throw the ball around in enemy territory at rival Stanford, he did manage to see the bigger picture.
"Well, I'm happy that Cal is getting a new stadium for sure," he said with a smile. "But it's good having the camp here and doing well might mean having a good game in future years. Either way, both places have great facilities."
Kline displayed the strongest arm at the camp and can really throw the ball wherever he wants. He generally throws a tight spiral with plenty of force on the ball and should continue to be in contention for the top quarterback on the West Coast.
Rodrigues makes an impression
While there were plenty of commitments on hand, several of the quarterbacks who held offers but hadn't yet pulled the trigger wanted to show that they had what it takes to compete at the next level. One of the real surprises of the camp was how well Rocklin (Calif.) quarterback Jake Rodrigues threw and he might have ended up the top guy at the entire event as a result.
"I'm ecstatic right now," Rodrigues said after the camp. "I've been wanting to play college football since I was three years old and this is just another step in my long journey I have. It means the world to me."
Like most of the campers, the time spent learning from a Super Bowl-winning quarterback like Dilfer was a great opportunity for Rodrigues to learn from the best.
"It's surreal. You grow up watching him on TV and then you're talking to him and he's coaching you up," he said. "What more can you ask for as a quarterback? Coming out here and competing is the best thing you can do. They're all good out here and to have Dilfer watching us, analyzing us and getting in our faces like how it is in a real game situation; everything out here has been just phenomenal."
The 6-foot-2, 215 pound signal caller even managed to get a personal lesson and help correct a small flaw in his footwork.
"Coach Dilfer said work on my drive step," Rodrigues said. "When you're done with your three, five, seven-step drops, that last step I need to stay off the tips of my toes and really drive it into the arch of my foot. I'll get more power coming off and I got that out of it today which is great."
Rodrigues has a very quick release and compact throwing motion but can still spin the ball well. He already holds offers from Colorado, Michigan, Utah, Oregon State and Washington but is receiving attention from several other big time programs.
"Standing out I would say USC and Oregon but all of them are going hard right now," he said. "They're all doing a great job and I'm open to everything still. I don't even have a top five or top three, I'm just taking it all in. "
Planning on graduating in December, Rodrigues is hoping to settle on a school by July and then concentrate on his senior season. He's already visited Washington and Oregon and will attend USC's Rising Stars Camp later in the summer. A trip to unofficially visit Tennessee might also be in the cards.
Baker the touchdown maker
The coaches seemed to enjoy calling Fresno (Calif.) quarterback Mike Baker the nickname they bestowed upon him while going through drills, particularly the accuracy challenge.
"Mike Baker, the touchdown maker!" they'd shout once he hit a target.
The nickname was apt as the Central California star was among the best performers at the camp, showing off a strong arm and very good mobility.
"I did good, competed well," Baker said. "It's just about seeing what I can do to get better and competing. Then have some fun."
The 6-foot-3, 190 pound signal caller came to the camp excited to play against some of the best quarterbacks in the country but did have one thing he wanted to work on with the instructors.
"My footwork," he said. "Just get all the coaching they offer and there's a lot of good coaches out here. I just want to take their coaching points and try to make me a better QB."
With the Evaluation Period in full swing, several schools are stopping by Central High East but so far Baker holds just one scholarship offer.
"Just San Diego State right now," he said. "I'm waiting on a few other ones. USC wants me to go down to their camp. Just a lot of colleges want to see me live and in person on their campus before they offer.
"I'm going to the Arizona camp and will be at Washington. I want to go to North Carolina because they keep calling."
Receiving interest from several other out of state schools, Baker is focused on evaluating his future schools primarily on two factors. He already has a top five and if one of the schools on the list extends an offer, a commitment will likely follow it.
"I want to go somewhere where I know the coaches are going to stay and go to a pro-style (offense), because I know there's a better chance of going to the pros from there," he said. "If it's one of my top five, then I'm going to commit. If not, I'll let it go through my senior year and make my decision."
Baker is teammates with cornerback Tee Shepard, who is one of the top defensive backs in the nation. With so much attention on Central East High thanks to Shepard, Baker is benefiting from the added attention of having a top player in the same locker room.
"It's great because a lot of college come by to see him and they also know I go to school with him," he said. "They watch film so they call me or talk to me too. The people that are looking at him are basically looking at me too so that's nice."
What can Browne do for you?
The Elite 11 is always a chance to see some up and coming quarterbacks and the Bay Area stop was no exception. Class of 2013 product Max Browne was the top underclassman at the event and displayed a very strong arm and was accurate at all three levels.
"I felt I did good, my feet were real good," Browne said. "It was a good day and great weather."
The Sammamish (Wash.) native is the latest in a long line of top quarterbacks at Skyline High. A legitimate 6-foot-5, 200 pounds, Browne looked more like a rising senior throwing the football around the Farm.
"You can't look at it as an underclassman, everyone is here to compete," he said. "You just have to push yourself, whether the guy's a freshman or going to be a senior, it doesn't matter. Every throw, every drop back you do."
Browne already holds an offer from nearby Washington and is receiving a lot of interest from other Pac-12 schools early in the process.
"No other offers but I've had some contact from schools and some guys stop by my high school," he said. "I'll be making a few trips this June and maybe in July. I don't know where I want to go."
Despite receiving a lot of attention from college coaches at an early age, Browne is guided by a high school staff who has been through the process with a host of Division I players.
"It helps because not only have I seen it happen, but my coach knows what to expect," Browne said. "It's not a new process for him so he can help me out. With all of this stuff, I can ask questions and he can provide the answers."
- Recent Utah commitment Travis Wilson was the most physically imposing quarterback at the event. Every bit of 6-foot-6 and 220 pounds. He can spin the ball but does tend to drop his arm angle which is a bad habit.
- Austin Bray, the younger brother of Tennessee starting quarterback Tyler Bray, competed at the camp.
- Lefty Matt Morin out of Temecula (Calif.) followed up his MVP performance at the LA Nike Camp with another strong showing. Morin has a very strong arm and appears on the verge of receiving his first offer in the next few weeks.
- Washington commit Jeff Lindquist was another top thrower at the event. Although he doesn't have the strongest arm in the class, he throws a very accurate ball that still arrives in the receiver's hands quickly. His footwork and throwing motion are also very good.
- Scottsdale (Ariz.) quarterback Connor Brewer was very accurate throughout the three hour camp and though he doesn't have elite arm strength, you can see why Texas coaches made him their quarterback for this recruiting class. Brewer is really a passer and is similar to BYU quarterback Jake Heaps.
- Speaking of BYU, commit Tanner Mangum showed why he was the top prospect out of the state of Idaho with a good showing. He doesn't have prototypical size at about 6-foot-1 but he has a good arm and really drives off his back foot.
- Yet another commit who preformed well was Idaho State pledge and Moorpark (Calif.) quarterback Grant Rohach.
Tags: Arizona, Austin Bray, Cal, Colorado, Connor Brewer, Grant Rohach, Idaho State, Jake Rodrigues, Jeff Lindquist, Jeff Tedford, Matt Morin, Max Browne, Memorial Stadium, Michigan, Mike Baker, North Carolina, Oregon, Oregon State, Pac-12, Rising Stars Camp, San Diego State, Stanford, Stanford Elite 11, Tanner Mangum, Tee Shepard, Tennessee, Texas, Travis Wilson, Trent Dilfer, Tyler Bray, USC, Utah, Washington, Zach Kline