Posted on: July 27, 2011 7:40 am
Posted by Bryan Fischer
- It's still early but the son of former UFC fighter Kimbo Slice, Kevin Ferguson, is not too bad at football.
- Funny video from the smart guys over at The Solid Verbal on the Elite 11 quarterback camp, featuring Trent Dilfer.
USC commit Arik Armstead is exploring playing both football and basketball for the Trojans.
Some video of new Oklahoma recruit Charles Tapper.
Brady Hoke is continuing the tradition Rich Rodriguez started of having a BBQ at the Big House.
It's been a bit of a role reversal at N.C. State and North Carolina and that has affected recruiting.
Arizona has offered athlete Jonavaughn Williams.
A look at some remaining targets on the board for Ohio State.
Florida extended an offer to defensive end Bryan Cox Jr.
Big, big pickup for Memphis by keeping running back Sheldon Dawson close to home.
The nephew of Olympian Gail Devers, cornerback C.J. Moore, has committed to play for Virginia.
Defensive end Evan Winston has committed to Missouri and wants to... deliver babies?
Michigan got their fullback for 2012 in Sione Houma.
Quarterback A.J. Bilyeu will play his college ball at Air Force.
Tags: A.J. Bilyeu, Air Force, Arik Armstead, Arizona, Brady Hoke, Bryan Cox Jr., C.J. Moore, Charles Tapper, Elite 11, Evan Winston, Florida, Gail Devers, Jonavaughn Williams, Kevin Ferguson, Kimbo Slice, Memphis, Missouri, N.C. State, North Carolina, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Rich Rodriguez, Sheldon Dawson, Sione Houma, Trent Dilfer, UFC, USC, Virginia
Posted on: July 21, 2011 2:34 am
Edited on: July 21, 2011 3:31 pm
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
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."
- 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.
Tags: ACC, Alabama, Austin Appleby, Bart Houston, Bubba Starling, BYU, Cal, College World Series, Connor Brewer, E.J. Manuel, Elite 11, Florida State, Gunner Kiel, Jake Rodrigues, Jameis Winston, Kansas City Royals, LSU, Nebraska, North Carolina Utah, Oregon, Patton Robinette, Pepperdine, Purdue, Rafel Nadal, SEC, Tanner Mangum, The Opening, Travis Wilson, Trent Dilfer, Tyler Matthews, Wisconsin, Zach Kline
Posted on: July 19, 2011 3:16 am
Edited on: July 19, 2011 10:04 am
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: 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