It's an annual summer ritual: 12 high school quarterbacks from the Class of 2017 will compete this week at the Elite 11. (Yes, that sounds strange having 12 QBs in the Elite 11. Think of it like 14 schools in the Big Ten and 10 in the Big 12. Now you get an idea of how the Elite 11 brands itself as an elite camp with Nike and former NFL quarterback Trent Dilfer.)
The Elite 11 is a quarterback skills competition/experience for highly-regarded recruits who advanced from previous events. How they perform this week will impact recruiting rankings that fans salivate over, and it could sway some impressions coaches have on these players before they sign scholarships.
That got me thinking: How have all of the Elite 11 quarterbacks fared in college since the event began in 1999?
Let's take a look.
How many started in college? Fifty-four percent of Elite 11 quarterbacks started at least one season (two-thirds of a team's games or more) at an FBS school. That figure increases to 60 percent -- this is probably the more accurate number -- if you count only Elite 11 QBs from 1999-2010, since all of those players are now out of college.
Barton Simmons, 247Sports' director of scouting who covers the Elite 11, said he thinks about 60-65 percent of Elite 11 QBs should start at least one year in college. But like anything in recruiting, the Elite 11 can be deceptive.
Simmons recalled being "blinded" by Zach Kline's big arm in 2011 and overlooking his low completion percentage in high school. Kline recently announced he is transferring from California for the second time after going from Cal to Butte College to Indiana State and then back to Cal.
"At the same time, I remember Jameis Winston looked unbelievable in the Elite 11, and you could just see his competitive juices and those intangibles," Simmons said. "He looked like the best player in the country. I remember not wanting to overreact and make him No. 1 based on a competitive camp setting and I probably should have."
|11 Most Productive Elite 11 Participants|
|Quarterback||FBS Games at QB||TD-INT||NFL Draft|
|Matt Leinart, USC||39||99-23||1st|
|Vince Young, Texas||37||44-28||1st|
|Troy Smith, Ohio State||43||54-13||5th|
|Tim Tebow, Florida||55||88-16||1st|
|Matthew Stafford, Georgia||39||51-33||1st|
|Andrew Luck, Stanford||38||82-22||1st|
|AJ McCarron, Alabama||53||77-15||5th|
|Aaron Murray, Georgia||52||121-41||5th|
|Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville||39||72-24||1st|
|Jameis Winston, Florida State||27||65-28||1st|
|Deshaun Watson, Clemson||23||49-15||Active|
How many end up transferring? Be careful getting fixated too much on a quarterback recruit with an Elite 11 tag. Keep in mind that 37 percent of Elite 11 QBs end up transferring in college, while 12 percent will play at three schools or more (including junior colleges).
Private quarterback coach Ken Mastrole saw one QB he trains, Auburn's Sean White, get named Elite 11 MVP in 2013. Mastrole said the event helps certain players gain confidence to throw against their peers.
"Some of these guys maybe are from smaller schools and it gives them a taste for being on a pressure stage," Mastrole said. "A lot of these kids come from schools where the spread is so dominant, and Trent has done a great job getting back to the grassroots of real football and you're going to read defenses. A lot of these college coaches don't teach these concepts."
But if a coach is recruiting "based off what a guy does in a shirt and short competition, that's where [Elite 11] has its setbacks," Mastrole said. "I think for recruiting it can maybe make someone more attractive and the fan base pressures the coach to sign him, and it can be misleading. Then there's so much pressure on that kid and I think sometimes [Elite 11] doesn't tell the true tale. The true test is when you have a five-man or four-man front and you have pressure in your face."
Which schools get the most Elite 11 QBs? Florida has signed the most 11 Elite 11 QBs based on their first college out of high school. The Gators' list reads mostly like a who's-who of disappointments in Gainesville sprinkled with a couple stars: Brock Berlin, Ingle Martin, Gavin Dickey, Chris Leak, Justin Midgett, Cornelius Ingram (he converted to tight end), Tim Tebow, John Brantley, Jeff Driskel, Will Grier and Feleipe Franks.
Other colleges with a high number of Elite 11 QBs: USC (10), Georgia and California (nine each), and Florida State and Alabama (seven each). Do politics and college scholarship offers play into who the Elite 11 invites to competitions?
"It depends on who you ask," Simmons said. "I think the guys picking those quarterbacks are trying to pick the best in the country. But usually that is a pretty significant overlap with guys who have the best offers from the best programs. In recent years, there's multiple guys that are either undersized or have no offer, and the guys picking sort of try to put their stamp on someone who maybe doesn't have the measurables or the offers."
This year's Elite 11 and where they're currently committed: Sam Ehlinger (Texas), Chris Robison (Oklahoma), Sean Clifford (Penn State), Tommy DeVito (Syracuse), Myles Brennan (LSU), Jake Fromm (Georgia), Jack Sears (uncommitted), Dylan McCaffrey (Michigan), Davis Mills (Stanford), Tate Martell (Ohio State), Tua Tagovailoa (Alabama) and Hunter Johnson (Clemson).
How many Elite 11 QBs get to the NFL? The Elite 11 has its share of alums in the NFL, including Andrew Luck and Matthew Stafford. But there's a reason there aren't many quality QBs in the NFL. A whopping 67 percent of Elite 11 QBs now out of school never got drafted. (Well, at least they weren't drafted in football. Former Elite 11 QBs Archie Bradley and Clayton Richard now pitch in Major League Baseball.)
"I think it's fair to have high expectations [of an Elite 11 QB] and be excited about a guy who has that stamp on him," Simmons said. "It's just also important for fans to understand nothing is owed to that player as a college quarterback based on what he did at the camp circuit. You can learn something about these guys from an intangible standpoint, but there are so many variables that could impact how successful they'll be."
|11 Unproductive Elite 11 Participants|
|Quarterback||FBS Games at QB||TD-INT||NFL Draft|
|Roman Ybarra, UCLA||0||0-0||Undrafted|
|Zac Wasserman, Penn State/Cal||0||0-0||Undrafted|
|Rob Bolden, Penn State/LSU||26||11--19||Undrafted|
|Aaron Corp, USC||8||1-1||Undrafted|
|Phillip Sims, Alabama/Virginia||20||9--6||Undrafted|
|Kevin Olsen, Miami/Charlotte||0||0-0||Active|
|Justin Midgett, Florida||0||0-0||Undrafted|
|Star Jackson, Alabama||5||0-0||Undrafted|
|Joe Boisture, Michigan State||0||0-0||Undrafted|
|Zeke Pike, Auburn||0||0-0||Undrafted|
|Willy Korn, Clemson||14||3-2||Undrafted|