Play Fantasy The Most Award Winning Fantasy game with real time scoring, top expert analysis, custom settings, and more. Play Now
 
Tag:Pepperdine
Posted on: July 23, 2011 5:03 pm
 

Elite 11 Top Performers

Posted by Bryan Fischer

MALIBU, Calif. -- The 2011 edition of the Elite 11 quarterback competition wrapped up on Friday on the gorgeous campus of Pepperdine University. With 24 of the country's best signal-callers in attendance, it was tough to narrow down the list to 11. The staff at the event had their list of 11 and here's a breakdown of how CBSSports.com saw it after watching everyone throw (in alphabetical order).

Neal Burcham (Greenbrier, Ark.)

Burcham rolled into the Elite 11 as an unknown with only one offer (from Central Arkansas) but left with everyone excited to see how his recruitment will take off - because it will. There was no glaring hole in his game and he was able to make all the throws. He's got good height but might be a tad on the thin side, nothing to scare teams off though. He makes a quick decision during 7-on-7 drills and 99% of the time it's the right one. The coaching staff were shaking their heads at how he could be so lightly recruited and after seeing him, so were we.

Bart Houston (Concord, Calif.), Committed to Wisconsin

If there's one thing you think when watching Houston, it's how he really is a perfect fit for Wisconsin. He's cerebral in the pocket and can diagnose what is going on quickly, then delivers a precision strike. There's nothing that jumps off the page with him but that's because he's solid in every area you look at. He knows when to check down and didn't seem to force anything all week.

Chad Kelly (Buffalo, N.Y.), Committed to Clemson

Kelly has had a productive July, looking good at The Opening and turning in another good performance at the Elite 11. He has a strong arm and was able to get the ball to the perfect spot. Kelly was outgoing on the sidelines with his fellow campers but once he was on the field, he got very serious. Just an overall good performance by the Clemson commit.

Zach Kline (Danville, Calif.), Committed to Cal

Kline had the best arm out of anyone in Malibu and one of the receivers even remarked he was surprised at how quickly the ball got to him. He tossed some beautiful fade routes and there really wasn't any spot on the field he couldn't get it to. There are times where he'll be a bit wild or take a chance he shouldn't but Kline no doubt proved he was the top quarterback on the West Coast.

Gunner Kiel (Columbus, Ind.)

Kiel is the nation's top quarterback and number two overall player and did nothing at the Elite 11 to suggest otherwise. He's one of the most polished prospects to come out of high school in some time and has great mechanics and a very strong arm. He lapsed at times but nevertheless showed everything you look for in a future all-conference quarterback.

Jeff Lindquist (Mercer Island, Wash.), Committed to Washington

Lindquist turned in his best performance of the summer and showed why it might be a tighter battle with fellow Washington commit Cyler Miles when they both get to campus. He was actually one of the few quarterbacks to have the arm strength to complete one drill that focused on using only the upper body. Lindquist threw a tight spiral all week and delivered a really catchable ball to the right spot just about every time.


Tanner Mangum (Eagle, Idaho), Committed to BYU

Not sure anyone has had a better month of July than Mangum. He proved he could not only hang with players more nationally recognized but that he was in the conversation to join them. Mangum has a really strong arm, sound mechanics and was a cerebral type who got the ball to where it needed to go. After watching him in action, he might be a better prospect out of high school than current Cougars starter Jake Heaps was.

Cyler Miles (Denver, Colo.), Committed to Washington

Miles was one of the bigger players at the event and looked more like some of the college players then the other high schoolers. Miles didn't have the strongest arm but he can make the throws. He had a really good week during 7-on-7 and was making the right reads. The event didn't allow him to show off his athleticism but he used it to showcase his quarterback IQ.

Nick Patti (Orlando, Fla.), Committed to Boise State

Patti wasn't perfect all week but still threw the ball well enough to get on this list. Everyone brings up his height and if he were a few inches taller, he'd be on everybody's radar. Based on what he showed at the Elite 11, it doesn't matter how tall he is, he's a flat-out player. Patti can deliver the ball on a rope but also knows when to put some touch on the ball. He was a little off on downfield throws but very good on short to intermediate routes.

Chad Voytik (Cleveland, Tenn.)

Voytik is very compact and drops back very quickly and fluidly. There's no doubt he had one of the strongest arms at the camp and the ball just flew out of his hands. It was really impressive to seem him spin the ball and he proved that he deserved the national recognition that he was craving.

Jameis Winston (Hueytown, Ala.)

Winston really had a good week and was at the top of his game. He's been playing mostly baseball and was a bit skinny but still could spin the ball well. Watch Winston in a game and his athleticism pops out but in a different setting this week, he showed in he is a complete player by making reads and every throw the playbook.

Just missed the cut: Shane Dillon, Zeke Pike, Patrick Towles, Travis Wilson.
Posted on: July 21, 2011 2:34 am
Edited on: July 21, 2011 3:31 pm
 

Double the fun on Day 3 of the Elite 11

Posted by Bryan Fischer

MALIBU, Calif. -- As if the picturesque Pepperdine campus was not enough for the Elite 11 campers, the competition literally moved within steps of the Pacific Ocean on Wednesday as 24 of the top quarterbacks in the country were put through two workouts and the first 7-on-7 drills of the five-day long process to determine the best high school quarterback in the country.

For Scottsdale (Ariz.) five-star Connor Brewer, the Elite 11 was yet another stop on the busy summer camp schedule and one, when he stopped to think about it, that was among the best he's attended.

"A couple of weeks ago I was at The Opening and played with the best athletes, and here I'm playing with the best quarterbacks in the nation," Brewer said. "It's a couple of great camps in a row. This one is really special for me."

In addition to a slight location change to a nearby off-campus field, there were several notable differences between Wednesday's workouts and the previous two days of competition.

"The main difference today was we woke up and Coach (Trent) Dilfer told us we were ranked 1-24 based on how we preformed," Brewer said. "Luckily I was No. 5, tied with Gunner Kiel. That's not fine for me, I definitely want to be that No. 1. It's something to keep working towards.

"The 7-on-7 drills, it got a little hectic. It got better as it went on but it's a fun day."

Brewer has been sharp but has struggled at times to be consistent with his accuracy on intermediate to deep throws. Looking to move from fifth up to first by the end of camp, Brewer has already identified a few areas he will work on the final two days in hopes of ascending to the top spot.

"I think I need to participate more in film sessions, answer more questions and definitely start picking their brain," he said. "I also need to start making some of the deep passes. I just have to keep up the hard work and keep competing with all these guys."

Although the Texas commit's recruitment has been shut down for some time, that hasn't stopped the Longhorns' first class of 2012 commitment from recruiting others. One of his top targets has been fellow Arizonan and offensive tackle Andrus Peat.

"I think in about a week he's visiting Texas," Brewer said. "He was going to go on the 23rd then he changed it to the 25th so I was going to make it up with him but our school camp was at that time. But he's going up there and it's going to be a lot of fun for him, I know he's going to love it and I'm excited for him to see Texas.

"I know he can get in there and play at an early stage, which is big for him. Everybody we have committed, all the guys we've got, he would fit in perfectly. His personality, he's a great kid. Coach (Mack) Brown recruits only the best kids. He's been talking to some of our recruits and I think just getting that familiarity with everybody is going to help him."

Peat isn't the only high-profile target Brewer has his sights on, as he thinks another out-of-state player would look pretty good in burnt orange on Signing Day

"Nelson Agholor, I'm trying to get him," Brewer said. "Whether he's playing safety or wide receiver, he can do it all. We'll see how that works out."

There's been plenty of talk about The Longhorn Network recently, and as one of the first commits that will see the channel on the air, the out-of-state player is looking forward to the opportunity for the school.

"It's really exciting to know that everyday there's going to be a whole ESPN channel just for you and your team," he said. "It's going to be sweet and a lot of publicity obviously. It could be good and could be bad sometimes but I think it's going to be pretty awesome.

"I've heard that they are going to find a (high school football) game, probably do it on one of our games. It's going to be fun. I definitely want to be in a broadcast, that's awesome. I'm excited to go compete, especially on that network and that stage."

Many people have talked about the recruiting advantage Texas will have with a channel dedicated to them. Brewer was quick to point out that the coaching staff never promised he'd be on the network in exchange for his verbal pledge to the school.

"No they never said that," he said. "Just kind of once it came along, obviously the first commit, the quarterback commit, that kind of started coming up. That's just kind of how it went on. The coaches really never said anything to me but if they did, I would have liked that."

Kelly fitting right in - as himself

If there was one person who truly, truly appreciated the temperate climate in Southern California this week, it was Buffalo (N.Y.) signal-caller Chad Kelly. Despite a little fog from the marine layer in the morning session, the 6-foot-3, 215-pounder had no problems enjoying himself tossing the football around Wednesday.

"This is great, to be out in Malibu, you don't see weather like this in Buffalo," Kelly said. "It's just great to be out here with all these quarterbacks, you've talked with some of them before but now to be playing football with them, it's just great."

Like many of his fellow quarterbacks looking to make the jump from high school to the college after this upcoming season, the chance to pick up on certain things that their high-school coaches aren't teaching has been a big takeaway from the event.

"Just the progressions, PSLs, pure progression stuff, that's big time," Kelly said. "Coming from someone like Coach Dilfer, that's key. Being in high school and playing against teams that are good, that will come in handy, and against teams that are bad, that just means putting up more points. It's excellent just learning out here."

As the nephew of Hall-of-Famer Jim Kelly, the young quarterback has always avoided treading too much on his uncle's legacy and is determined to make sure he's on his own path to success -- hopefully, with nobody even knowing about the connection between the two.

"I try not to think about it, but it's always in the back of your mind," he said. "He's one of the best quarterbacks to ever play the game, ever, in the NFL. You try not to think about (the comparison). I don't tell people, I'd rather nobody know. All these quarterbacks out here, I doubt half of them even know who he is or know I'm related to him. I really just try to play it off and be me as much as I can."

Committed to Clemson since the middle of June, Kelly is part of another very good recruiting class for Dabo Swinney and the Tigers. After a few unofficial visits down South, he found the Clemson program was simply the fit for him.

"Everything. From the stadium to the people to the coaching staff," he said. "Everybody is passionate about football, they want their people to graduate, they want them to be good people in society. There's so much that went into it and I knew right from the start when I got there that it was the right place."

Recently hired from Tulsa, new Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris is a big factor in Kelly choosing the school, and the pair have become close despite not knowing each other for that long.

"We talk all the time," he said. "He's always messaging me on Facebook. He's awesome and everybody there is, too. He's new but the offense that they run is perfect for me, I run it in high school. It's going to be a lot of fun."

The good-natured Kelly has no problem representing his school, having shaved the Tigers logo into his head a few weeks ago at The Opening and reminding fellow Elite 11 camper and Auburn commit Zeke Pike who would win the game between the two schools this upcoming season.

"Clemson," Kelly says with a smile. "For sure. With the athletes they've got this year… it's going to be fun watching them, it's going to be a show."

Voytik down to two

The Elite 11 isn't just about the players who reside in recruiting services' top 100 lists; it's also a chance for some lesser-known prospects to get their chance to prove themselves on a national stage. Cleveland (Tenn.) quarterback Chad Voytik has been a bit under the radar to some fans, but the talented player has proved he belongs over the past few days at the competition.

"I came out strong and I felt like I built on that," Voytik said. "There’s a lot of good quarterbacks out here so I’m really trying to focus on my self and not worry about the other guys. Of course I want to compete and know what I’m up against, but I’m going to stick to what I know and who I am."

The 6-foot-1, 200-pound signal-caller has one of the strongest arms at the camp and a compact throwing motion that can really deliver the ball quickly.

“I feel like I’m right at the top with my accuracy and arm strength. I think I'm with the best guys out here," he said. "I know I’m not the tallest, but I feel like I make up for it with my intangibles.”

Voytik holds scholarship offers from several schools in the South but has narrowed his recruiting options to two schools as he looks to make a decision soon, possibly after the Elite 11 is over.

“It’s Pitt and Vandy," Voytik said. "I’m down to those two schools for the most part. I really like Pitt right now. They’re probably the leader. But Vandy’s close behind.”

New Panthers coach Todd Graham has not been afraid to expand the program's recruiting to grab quality prospects such as Voytik. On the quarterback's end, the school has plenty of things going for it as he looks at the positives and negatives of each option.

“It’s just the fit, the coaching staff and the kind of offense they run,” he said. “They opportunity (to play early) is the main factor. I’ve been there twice, and I loved it when I was up there.”

In-state program Vanderbilt has built some momentum on the recruiting trail with a string of quality commitments recently, and that is certainly something working in the school's favor.

“They’re getting some great recruits,” Voytik said. “They’ve got a bunch of Tennessee kids like (running back Brian) Kimbrow. That’s a good program, I feel like they’re on the rise. It may be a year or two, but I feel like they’re going to turn things around and it’s a good school.”

Based on all indications however, it looks like the Tennessee native will head to the northeast to play his college ball.


Posted on: July 20, 2011 2:30 am
Edited on: July 20, 2011 2:38 am
 

Winston evolving into complete QB at Elite 11

Posted by Bryan Fischer

MALIBU, Calif. -- With everybody settled into their picturesque surroundings at Pepperdine University during day two of the Elite 11, the throws were sharper, the completion percentage was up and - perhaps just as important - so was the level of competition.

"It's been good out here with all these great quarterbacks," Bessemer (Ala.) quarterback Jameis Winston said. "I'm just out here competing, that's the main thing."

The 6-foot-4, 185-pound signal-caller was the top performer Tuesday and was really spinning the ball well during a brisk morning throwing session. Despite the effort he put in on each throw, Winston understands that he's still evolving from an athlete into a quarterback and that there are several parts of his game that he can work on.

"Drops," he identifies immediately almost before the question is even asked. "I want to also work on my hips more. I have to get my hips open more so I don't hurt anything down low. So I just have to work my hips more and get open. I've got to get better everyday."

Winston was almost like a little brother on the field to college counselor E.J. Manuel out of Florida State. The two have similar builds (though Winston is much thinner) and a similar throwing motion. Often conversing between snaps, the college starter had no problem mentoring the high school star.

"E.J. helps me a lot on making sure I'm staying on top of the ball and not squeezing the ball," Winston said. "He's helped me a lot and he's at one of my final schools, Florida State."

Down to three schools in his recruitment, Maxpreps' second ranked quarterback and 21st overall player in the class of 2012 is considering the Seminoles and hasn't been shy about asking Manuel about the program.

"I've asked him about Florida State and their program," Winston said. "He's been pretty real with me. He's told me the ups and downs - there's not many downs but he told me some."

The other finalists for the five-star quarterback are both SEC powerhouses, one close to home and the other a few hours away by car. With distance not a huge factor for Winston, he's had to look closer at what each program brings to the table for him.

"Alabama is the home school," he said. "I mean, there's no place like home. I've been there a million times, just over and over. LSU, it's just a great competitive atmosphere and I want to be in that competitive atmosphere wherever I go, especially with baseball and football."

Winston is a top high school baseball player in addition to his success on the gridiron. While Florida State and LSU are perennial contenders at the College World Series, the success of the baseball program at any of the three schools he's considering is only a small factor in his decision.

"Yes," he says before cautioning," but Alabama's baseball program is coming up."

Projected by some to go as high as the first round draft in next year's MLB Draft, Winston knows it's possible he'll have to make a decision similar to Nebraska quarterback and Kansas City Royals first round pick Bubba Starling.

"Yes I've followed him," Winston said. "I'm going to consider (going pro). I don't know right now because I'm not as advanced as he is. He got there this year and I'm just considering it. Thinking about it but trying to have fun. It's in the back of my mind."

Slated to make one fan base very happy when he ultimately picks a school on August 3rd, Winston revealed that he's already decided where he'll play his college ball - football and baseball - but didn't offer any hints as to where that might actually be.

"I know where I'm going," he said. "The coaches know."

Kline reps the West Coast

Danville (Calif.) quarterback Zach Kline had one of the shortest commutes to the Elite 11 from the Bay Area and though he is used to going down to the beach or enjoying a cool summer day, the experience with 23 other top quarterbacks at the Elite 11 has been eye-opening for him.

"It's been awesome," Kline said. "Nothing is like it, ever. It's the best thing I've ever been to and you have the best players here."

The California kid was sporting a Rafael Nadal-like look on Tuesday with long hair and a headband. Though he was one of the most outgoing and relaxed players on the field, that masked his workman-like approach to learning as much as he could from the coaches and counselors at the event.

"A lot of things like making every throw count and the little things matter the most," he said about what he learned. "Even the smallest thing down to a drop, the fake on the play action matters more than anything and is the difference between a completion and an interception. And just kind of getting to know these guys and the things that they see."

In between meals and film sessions, the Cal commit has been able to take time to bond with his fellow campers, many of whom he is already close with.

"I know these guys real well," Kline said. "Connor Brewer I've been friends with for awhile, for a couple of years. Jake Rodrigues I've been friends with for a long time as well. Tyler Matthews same deal. Gunner Kiel, I was at the Elite 11 last year as a ball boy with him. He's the man, he's a great quarterback and just a cool dude to hang around with. Same for all of those guys, every single one of them."

Regarded by many as the top quarterback on the West Coast, the 6-foot-3, 210-pounder is confident in himself and showed that he can make all the throws on the field, going neck-and-neck with other highly ranked players like Winston and Kiel. Still, despite actually belonging with the best in the nation, Kline knows there's still something left for him to prove.

"Definitely," he says before identifying the biggest reason why. "Tanner Mangum is giving me a run for my money. He's good, a great quarterback and a great dude too. He's a good friend of mine as well and he's going to do big things at BYU, just an awesome quarterback, can't wait to watch him."

Appleby stars in the classroom

While Mangum wore a yellow jersey for being the winner of the Golden Arm competition on the field Monday, North Canton (Ohio) quarterback Austin Appleby sported a red jersey on Tuesday after taking home honors for best performance in the classroom. The chance to show off his quarterback IQ was a welcome one for someone who had prepared to do so for quite some time.

"I got a chance to get up in front on the board, in front of everybody, and impress Coach (Trent) Dilfer," Appleby said. "I put a lot of time and preparation coming into this. I've been hours upon hours into knowing this playbook and I take pride in being the most prepared at this camp."

With so much teaching on and off the field from instructors, Appleby made an apt analogy to schoolwork when talking about what specifically he'll take back to his high school.

"It's graduate level stuff," he said. "In my offense, I'm a little more advanced and making those checks and making those slide protections, or any audible I need too. So having this knowledge and understanding of how it's really supposed to work is really going to broaden my skill level from a mental aspect as well from the coaching we're going to get from a fundamental aspect."

The 6-foot-5, 230-pounder looks like he's physically ready to play on Saturdays and appears fully recovered from a knee injury he suffered last year. He throws a very catchable ball but can really put some spin on it if required. Even having the opportunity to showcase his quarterback skills alongside the other campers has been quite the experience for Appleby.

"It's awesome, there's no better place than to be here right now," he said. "The talent level is unbelievable. It's the top 24 for a reason and as the days go by and we get near the end, the elite will rise towards the top. Then we'll see who's number one and I have full intentions of being that number one."

Committed to Purdue, Appleby is in constant contact with the Boilermakers staff to keep them updated on his progress at the Elite 11.

"I'm going to be in contact with them and at the end of the day, I kind of update them with what's going on," he said. "It's kind of tough with the time zone, I keep forgetting how late it is over there. But I tell my high school coach as well and we're going to all together get better."

Clearly advanced mentally and physically, the senior to-be is undecided if he'll enroll early and take part in spring football with Purdue next year.

"I don't know at this point," he said. "We're looking into it but I don't know the details at this point."

Notes:

- Tanner Mangum won the Golden Arm competition for the second day in a row. After proudly sporting the yellow jersey on Tuesday, he will do so again during Wednesday's throwing sessions.

- Utah commit Travis Wilson has the frame to put on a few pounds of muscle but the 6-foot-6 quarterback has all the tools to make it at the next level. His release might be the best part of his game, as the ball comes out quickly and effortlessly.

- One of the surprises of day two was North Carolina commit Patton Robinette. He came in a close second behind Mangum in the Golden Arm competition but was sharp throughout practice. He did a good job hitting the receivers in the right spot and knowing just how much to put on the ball. Robinette also did a good job on throws to the outside and could really drive the ball on out routes.

- After a rough week at The Opening, Oregon verbal Jake Rodrigues has bounced back nicely at the Elite 11. It still seems like he gets a little bit too wide of a base but he was accurate and was able to get good power on just about every one of his throws.

- If there's anyone who could be labeled Mr. Consistent, it would be Bart Houston. He doesn't wow you out of the gate but he's got the perfect mix of arm strength, frame, throwing motion and accuracy to know he'll be a perfect fit at Wisconsin.

Posted on: July 19, 2011 3:16 am
Edited on: July 19, 2011 10:04 am
 

All eyes on Kiel as Elite 11 kicks off

Posted by Bryan Fischer

MALIBU, Calif. -- Perfection isn't something that is easy to come by but 24 of the nation's top quarterbacks found the conditions to be as close to perfect as you could be on a picturesque Southern California day to open the Elite 11 quarterback competition on the campus of Pepperdine University

Amid signal-callers who had succeeded in high school, college and the NFL, the one player that drew plenty of attention with every throw was Columbus (Ind.) star Gunner Kiel. One of the handful of uncommitted players at the event, he was slated to have already made a decision last month and again in the middle of July. But those dates came and went and so everybody wanted know just who was standing out and when the top-ranked quarterback would pull the trigger on a school.

"I just decided to go and check out my options again and what was out there," Kiel said. "I tried (to set another date). I tried that next week but that didn't really work out. I'm done putting dates on it and whenever I feel ready to commit, that's when I'm going to."

Wearing his familiar white and orange shoes, Kiel was sharp throughout the two hour workout overlooking the Pacific Ocean. He threw a tight spiral on just about every throw and was one of the few quarterbacks who stayed balanced throughout the throwing motion.

Because he often declines interview requests, Kiel knows that there's intense interest in his decision and though he had no trouble answering any question that came his way from a throng of reporters, the 6-foot-4, 215-pounder wouldn't offer up many hints as to which program he was leaning towards.

"I like to keep it kind of personal, I'm always a team player too," he said. "I like to focus my time on my team and school work. I think of college stuff all the time but at the end of the day, I'm not going to make it a big thing. I'll probably tell the team and my family and it will probably gradually get out.

"It takes a lot out of you for a teenager but I have a strong family that's always by my side." 

Kiel's older brothers are quite familiar with the ins and outs of the recruiting process. Dusty is Indiana's possible starter this season while other brother Drew is reading defenses and calling out plays at Illinois State. While the conversations between the Kiel brothers might not always be about football, the pair have been an invaluable resource for Gunner to lean on.

"It's huge, they know what's out there and what's not," said the youngest Kiel. "I couldn't be more thankful for more blessed with a better family or better team."

Oklahoma, Indiana, Missouri and Alabama have mostly been the four teams out front for the five-star quarterback and many believe the Hoosiers are only on the list because of his brother. Ask Kiel though and he'll dismiss talk that it would be a "shock" if he were to play for the local team.

"I wouldn't say that," he said. "Indiana has a great coaching staff and they're definitely going to win football games. Coach (Kevin) Wilson is a fiery guy. My brother is going to be playing quarterback for them, which is awesome. I'll be at games and cheering him on. When I talk to him, I know they're going to win football games."

Kiel said that he does not plan to take any other visits and that he has already taken a trip to see all of his final schools. One notable thing he mentioned Monday was the fact that he would not go to a school that is looking to take two quarterbacks in the class of 2012. That would seem to rule out Oklahoma and Missouri, who both picked up players at the position in the past few weeks, but MaxPreps' top signal-caller wouldn't let on about any of his finalists in too much detail.

"There's some schools out there, i just kind of try and keep it low-key," he said. "I think everyone's great that I'm interested in. They have great facilities, great football teams, it's just kind of hard to make a decision right now.

"I'll probably decide before school."

Performing at events like the Elite 11 are one of the few times players get a chance to gauge how they stack up against competition nationally. Ranked as the second best player in the country overall, the red haired quarterback isn't feeling the heat from others and is focused only on improving himself throughout the rest of the week.

"There's always pressure out there," Kiel said. "At the end of the day, you've got to have fun and let it sling and not care. I know it's out there that I'm the number one quarterback in the nation but that's just a number."

Mangum continues to impress

As the camp counselors announced who won the final drill of the day, it was no surprise to hear them call out Eagle (Idaho) quarterback Tanner Mangum's name after the BYU recruit continued to show off his accuracy and strong arm on the final stop of the camp circuit.

"It feels good to come out on the first day and do well to start the week off right," Mangum said. "I know there's a lot of talented quarterbacks out here so it feels good to kind of get your name out there within the group."

Mangum was the top quarterback at last week's The Opening in Oregon and he picked up right where he left off in Malibu, winning the Golden Gun award for best accuracy during the final drill of the day.

"I'm trying to keep the momentum going," he said. "I'm playing well right now and hopefully I can keep it up the rest of the week. It definitely feels good to come out here and play well."

As the one of the few players from Idaho to receive much attention nationally, competing with the top players from around the country - and more often than not beating them - has been welcome preparation for the next level.

"You've only been here a few hours but you can already feel the competitive nature that these guys have," he said. "They're here for a reason. It's good to get to know these guys on a level other than football."

The 6-foot-3, 195-pounder will get to wear a special gold jersey throughout Tuesday as a result of being the top performer in the final drills.

Pike loving the experience

Auburn commit and Edgewood (Ky.) quarterback Zeke Pike has already been around the country for 7-on-7 competitions but walking off the field at Pepperdine was an altogether new, and very welcome, experience for the 6-foot-5, 230-pound football player.

"It's great just coming out here and competing with the top guys in the country," Pike said. "Even better than that is to be out here in California and Malibu. It doesn't get much better than this."

Pike is still recovering from minor shoulder surgery but was throwing the ball well at the end of the day after starting a bit slow. As someone who is a bit raw, picking up tips and tricks from the instructors has been vital to becoming a better quarterback. 

"It's fun to come out here with guys who know what they're talking about and be able to pick up teaching points," he said. "It's a lot different but it doesn't get much better than this, practicing football with the ocean in the background."

With camp counselors such as Florida State's E.J. Emanuel and Michigan State's Kirk Cousins, Pike has dedicated himself to soaking up anything and everything they and others have to offer as advice.

"You just try to take anything you can get back," Pike said. "You're working with Trent (Dilfer) and Jordan Palmer was in our group, he's five minutes from where I live. It's kind of good to come out here and meet him, we'll probably work a little when I get back. You just try and take something to improve your game."

Posted on: July 9, 2011 1:17 am
Edited on: July 11, 2011 4:33 pm
 

The Opening: Day 3 -- Pads and 7-on-7

Posted by Bryan Fischer

BEAVERTON, Ore. – Day three of The Opening could not have turned out any better for the assembled campers as wall-to-wall 7-on-7 action and a lineman challenge took place on a picturesque day at the Nike campus.

After NFL players and Nike coaching staff members drafted teams from the nearly 150 players at the event on Thursday night, the pressure was on to gel quickly during round-robin play all day Friday. One of the consistent playmakers at the event with his blazing speed, fluid routes and soft hands was Tampa (Fla.) athlete Nelson Agholor.

A threat at multiple positions on the field, the talented Floridian was a touchdown threat every time he touched the ball on offense. Despite standing out on the field, it was hard to get him to talk about himself off it as he personified the definition of a team player.

"Yeah, I hope we have a good one the next day. We're ready to go and play hard," Agholor said. "We've got a great team."

NFL stars Josh Freeman of Agholor's local team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Kansas City Chiefs wideout Dwayne Bowe were the honorary coaches of “Team Alpha Talon.” The 7-on-7 setting provided the players they picked a chance to spread the field and allow players such as Agholor to go up and make plays.

"We were blessed with two great coaches that put a bunch of athletes on the team," Agholor said. "We're going to do well. There's not one bad guy on our team. Everyone on our team is really good."

Featuring quarterback Chad Kelly (committed to Clemson), receiver Bralon Addison (Texas A&M) and  running back Duke Johnson (Miami) among others, Agholor's team was one of the best in the field. Boasting players from 10 states, the all-star squad was an opportunity for Agholor and others to bond with players they had only heard about.

"These are guys you want to compete against everyday,” he said. “They say everyone around the nation is getting better, these are the guys that they're talking about. Now we're all together having fun and winning together."

Ranked 22nd overall in the MaxPreps Top 100, schools such as Florida, Florida State, Miami, Texas and USC are heavily pursuing the talented athlete as both a receiver and defensive back. With so much attention on the recruiting trail, Agholor is almost to the point where he narrows his list down to a more manageable five to 10.

"I have sort of an idea of a shorter list," he said. "That's between me and my coaches and parents right now. We're going to work something out and hopefully narrow it down soon.

"There's many things I'm looking for. When I first started recruiting, it was all about people and their morals, that was always number one. Academics is number two because I feel like there's a degree out there for everyone, it's up to you to go get it."

In terms of a decision, that will be awhile for the five-star athlete.

"I think I want to sign on National Signing Day," Agholor said. "I really want to think this all through. Schools know, who I'm in contact with, they know what type of interest is coming in and if not, I'm going to make it a little bit clearer soon."

Miller enjoys getting some pad work

While most of the skill position athletes were playing games, the big fellas down in the trenches were also having some fun and it came in something unique to The Opening: pads.

"It was fun, I haven't put pads on in awhile since I didn't play in the spring game," West Palm Beach (Fla.) offensive tackle Patrick Miller said. "It was sweet, I got a little hitting time in."

Armed with full shoulder pads and helmets, the one-on-one drills between the offensive and defensive linemen were one of the highlights of the camp. For some players, such as Miller, who have largely been without contact, it did take a bit of an adjustment.

"Definitely, you're getting the cob webs out," he said. "You kind of forget how to pass set or something like that. But you're with all these great coaches and stuff and you get your technique back to where it was and everything. It's just part of getting ready for the season."

Working with former NFL lineman LeCharles Bentley among others, the 6-foot-7, 270-pound Miller has been able to pickup plenty of small tips and tricks that should serve him well going into his senior year.

"There's just so many small, miscellaneous things," Miller said. "I mean a pro tells you, and you're like, alright and you listen to him then. The only people I like to listen to is my head coach, my position coach but obviously, if an NFL player says it, you know it's right."

As one of the top offensive tackles in South Florida, Miller has offers from just about every SEC school, as well as Notre Dame, Florida State, Miami and others. He has taken several unofficial visits recently and will likely take a few more between now and trimming his list down.

"I think I'm going to narrow it down in the middle of the season," Miller said. "I know I'm going to visit Oklahoma and North Carolina. I've already visited Auburn, LSU and Tennessee and Florida too. I liked them all a lot, I liked Auburn a lot obviously. After taking these visits, I definitely was thinking I wanted to commit somewhere but now I realize I just want to wait and weigh my options. There might be something better out there for me."
 
Mangum sharp again in 7-on-7 setting

If you wanted to have a good 7-on-7 team at an event like this, you needed to pick a good quarterback. Noted quarterback guru George Whitfield Jr., who has worked Ben Roethlisberger and Cam Newton among others, was in charge of drafting “Team Vapor Carbon” with rookie Patrick Peterson. It's no surprise that Whitfield's acumen was on the money as Eagle (Idaho) quarterback Tanner Mangum was the top signal caller throughout the day.

"I'm just doing my best to make them look good," Mangum said. "I know they're talented, they're playmakers, so I'm just doing my best to make good decisions and keep up with them. It's an honor to be playing with them so I don't want to make them look bad."

Mangum team featured Notre Dame-bound receiver Deontay Greenberry, Florida-bound running back Mike Davis and plenty of other impressive skill position players. Being able to throw to such a talented group was nice for the 6-foot-3, 200-pound quarterback but that wasn't the biggest take away from the event.

"There's so many things but I think it's forming relationships with these guys," Mangum said. "These are the top players from across the country and you wouldn't have any other chance to meet them but here. It's an honor to be considered among them and it's been even better getting to know them."

As a BYU commitment for several months, Mangum is one of several players who are already dead-set on their college of choice. With 11 players on his team who have not made a commitment and plenty more at the event, there has surprisingly not been many conversations asking him for advice on the recruiting process.

"Not too much," he said. "Everyone here is pretty set in where they're going, there's a few guys that aren't committed. There aren't any here, but I'm doing my best to recruit some guys to get to the "Y." Dylan Collie and I are working together to get some guys to BYU. There's some big recruits that have committed there and I think that 2012 recruiting class will be pretty good."

The recruiting class that the pair is apart of is the Cougar's first as a football independent. The opportunity to go out on their own and the advantages with that are a big draw for several recruits according to Mangum.

"I think it's helping a lot, it's a big positive," he said. "It allows us to play some big time teams on national television and I think guys draw to that and want to play for that. It's helping out a lot."

The Opening is not the only national competition Mangum is taking part in. He will head down to Pepperdine in a little over a week for the prestigious Elite 11 quarterback camp, something he lights up when asked about it.

"I'm very excited," Mangum said. "I've grown up watching that since I was a kid and it's always been a dream of mine. So it's a dream come true for sure."

Dawson sees two recruiting him hard

One of the more physically imposing defenders on the field was 6-foot-3, 230-pound linebacker Nick Dawson. Flying across the country from Charlotte (N.C.) to the Nike campus was no problem for the talented athlete as he's having a blast so far at The Opening.

"Everything's great," Dawson said. "It's so unique it doesn't make sense. And every day it gets better and better. I'm just out here to compete with the top 150 and I'm doing going good."

Like many players, the opportunity to interact and learn from NFL players has been a moment that often leaves Dawson in awe as he receives tips from the best of the best.

"I'm just getting coached up, you can't ask for any more than this,” he said. “Aaron Curry is out here coaching the linebackers Ray Rice with the running backs. Dwayne Bowe with the receivers, there's just so many unique athletes out here."

Holding offers from schools such as Arkansas, Auburn, Miami, USC and others, Dawson is trying to begin the arduous task of narrowing down his list of programs he is considering.

"Everything is going great with my recruiting," he said. "I'm trying to narrow it down but I don't really have a top five right now."

Just because it's tough to limit his options going forward, doesn't mean a few schools aren't standing out.

"Louisville and Clemson are recruiting me the hardest," he said. "I went to Clemson's camp and Louisville's also. They were great, everything was great. Both of the schools were perfect. I'm just trying to figure out which one is the best, best, best for me. I'm in the process of doing that right now."

Dawson had entertained thoughts of committing during The Opening but could not decide on a school enough to give his verbal pledge. He said he was unsure when he would eventually pull the trigger and commit.

Notes:

- It wasn't a great day of football for USC commitment Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick. He banged his head against another player while making a play for a ball and ended up having to sit out most of the day (against his wishes it should be noted) after receiving stitches above his eye.

"Four. It wasn't too bad," Cope-Fitzpatrick said before getting to the bad news. "If football doesn't work out, I'm trying to be a model for Nike."

- Oregon commit Jake Rodrigues struggled mightily during 7-on-7, tossing more interceptions than touchdowns and misreading the defense a few times. He was able to throw the ball better as the day went on but he just wasn't as sharp as he was yesterday.

- USF-bound tight end Sean Price has performed well in 7-on-7 events before and did so once again Friday afternoon. He was able to use his big frame and speed to create mismatches and was a nice target in the red zone.

- All-around athlete Cedric Dozier is really rangy as a defensive back. He grabbed quite a few interceptions, including a nice one off Cal commit Zach Kline. Top ten defensive back Landon Collins also impressed in the secondary.

-  Number one ranked running back Johnathan Gray is a special back. Known for his rushing skills, he was explosive out of the backfield and displayed some soft hands. He lined up next to future Texas teammate Connor Brewer and the pair definitely had some chemistry out on the field.

- Tight end Taylor McNamara, headed to Arizona, had a really nice day and went up and caught some throws that very few people could get to. Ray Rice jokingly started calling him Todd Heap after making so many plays.

- The play of the day came from receiver Jaydon Mickens. The USC-bound athlete took a short pass and turned it into a 40+ yard touchdown by traversing the field three times and leaving several defenders unable to move. Even speedy Dwayne Bowe was impressed and quite excited about the play.

Posted on: July 1, 2011 11:18 am
Edited on: July 1, 2011 11:28 am
 

Elite 11 Roster Unveiled

Posted by Bryan Fischer

The roster for the 2011 Elite 11 quarterback competition has been released, and it features some of the top signal-callers in the country. There are a few changes to the event itself, which expands the roster from 11 to 24 and goes from a four-day event to five. The annual competition will be held at the picturesque Pepperdine campus in Malibu, Calif.

Notable alumni at the event include Mark Sanchez, Matthew Stafford, Troy Smith, Vince Young, Matt Leinart, Tim Tebow and Blaine Gabbert. This year's lineup features the following players from the class of 2012:

Austin Appleby (North Canton, Ohio)
Committed to Purdue

Connor Brewer (Scottsdale, Ariz.)
Committed to Texas

Neal Burcham
(Greenbrier, Ark.)

Tyler Cameron (Jupiter, Fla.)

Preston Dewey (Austin, Texas)
Committed to Miami

Shane Dillon (El Cajon, Calif.)
Committed to Colorado

Bart Houston (Concord, Calif.)
Committed to Wisconsin

Chad Kelly (Buffalo. N.Y.)
Committed to Clemson

Gunner Kiel (Columbus, Ind.)

Zach Kline (Danville, Calif.)
Committed to Cal

Jeff Lindquist (Mercer Island, Wash.)
Committed to Washington

Tanner Mangum (Eagle, Idaho)
Committed to BYU

Tyler Matthews (McPherson, Kan.)
Committed to TCU

Cyler Miles (Denver, Colo.)
Committed to Washington

Tyler O’Connor (Lima, Ohio)
Committed to Michigan State

Nick Patti (Orlando, Fla.)
Committed to Boise State

Zeke Pike (Fort Mitchell, Ky.)
Committed to Auburn

Patton Robinette (Maryville, Tenn.)
Committed to North Carolina

Jake Rodrigues (Rocklin, Calif.)
Committed to Oregon

Grant Rohach (Moorpark, Calif.)
Committed to Iowa State

Patrick Towles (Fort Thomas, Ky.)
Committed to Kentucky

Chad Voytik (Cleveland, Tenn.)

Travis Wilson (San Clemente, Calif.)
Committed to Utah

Jameis Winston (Hueytown, Ala.)
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com