The Elite 11 is the premier quarterback camp in the country. Thousands of hopeful high school quarterbacks competed at regional qualifiers for an opportunity to make the cut but only 18 were selected to come to Oregon.
While being invited to the Elite 11 is an honor on its own, for those 18 players who were selected to compete this year, the work was just beginning.
Two weeks prior to getting on a plane and heading out to Nike World Headquarters in Beaverton, Or., each player received a playbook that Trent Dilfer and his staff had worked tirelessly to put together. In total, the playbook features 29 concepts, 113 plays and the potential to run over 200 plays. And these aren’t you’re typical high school type of plays. Dilfer has built the playbook over a period of two years and it includes plays that NFL teams run.
Despite getting a playbook the size of a Mini Cooper, the players did their due diligence and Dilfer was beyond impressed with how the young passers came into camp prepared and ready to work.
“That was the greatest 2 ½ hours of high school quarterbacking that I’ve ever seen,” Dilfer said to the media after practice. “What I just saw was a product of an incredible group of people.”
Where the camp differentiates itself from other camps is the emphasis on testing players both on and off the field. Dilfer said that the players will have their bodies, minds and souls tested throughout the week and the player who is able to pass all of those tests will wind up the camp MVP. Other than holding two practices today, the quarterbacks also had a 4:30 a.m. wake-up call to run up a hill and do yoga. Dilfer admitted that when the players got up the hill the first time, the ESPN camera crew wasn’t in the right place to film it so he had the kids run up the same hill again, this time up a different route. There was no complaining from any of the players and they didn’t have any trouble with the extra conditioning.
With that being said, let’s jump into the top-5 performers from the first practice, in what was admittedly a very small sample size of just 2 ½ hours.
In no particular order, the top five quarterbacks that stood out to me today were Will Grier, Kyle Allen, Keller Chryst, Sean White and David Cornwell.
Grier was probably the best passer on the run today. He throws a very catchable ball and has a great spiral. He is smooth on the run and looks natural throwing the ball on the move. Dilfer talked to the media about how Grier attacked the morning yoga session and running session with a “laser like focus” and how he thought Grier translated that focus onto the field. Grier also showed great arm strength on out routes. He had no problem getting the ball to receivers all over the field today.
His highlight tape is filled of plays where he makes things happen with his feet and throwing on the run. He impresses me the most by taking smooth drop backs and delivering nice passes while staying in the pocket.
Kyle Allen was, in my opinion, the most polished and impressive quarterback on the field today. He is so smooth, poised and confident on the field and all of that really translates into his game. He doesn’t make the same small mental mistakes that most high school players make and he is very consistent.
“Kyle has been incredibly consistent. He does a great job of playing in the moment,” Dilfer continued. “He’s found a really unique way to let it go. That’s why he doesn’t compound mistakes.”
Sean White continued to impress me. This is the fourth time I’ve seen White this summer and he has yet to disappoint. I wasn’t the only person who was impressed with White, Dilfer also took notice of the under recruited quarterback.
“Sean White made some throws on the sluggo [slant and go] today where I just sat back on the sidelines and thought, ‘that’s a better sluggo than [Matt] Hasselbeck’s ever thrown; that’s a better sluggo than I’ve ever thrown.’ It’s a unique feel for certain throws that just blew my mind.”
That’s high praise from a former Super Bowl champion.
Keller Chryst, a recent Stanford commit, was another quarterback who impressed me on the day. He is every bit of his 6’4”, 220-pound listing and moves well for someone that big. Chryst has an uncanny ability to command the speed of his passes while maintaining accuracy on all different types of throws. Dilfer talked about throwing the ball with a “hard arc” – meaning throwing the ball hard and with a good spiral, but he is still able to put an arc on the ball and get it over defenders when you need to. Chryst did this better than any other quarterback today.
The final quarterback is David Cornwell. At 6’5”, 235, it’s hard to miss the Alabama commit. Cornwell has a rocket attached to his right shoulder and there isn’t a throw on the football field that he can’t make. He struggles staying low throughout his drop back and that can slow down his delivery, but his arm makes up for it. When he becomes more fundamentally sound, the sky is the limit for this prospect.