FRISCO, Texas — Twenty of the nation’s top quarterback prospects gathered at Dallas Cowboys’ practice facility in North Texas for the Elite 11, the annual showcase that counts among its alumni Andrew Luck, Vince Young, Tim Tebow and Deshaun Watson.
The jury remains out on which passers from this year’s class, if any, will reach similar heights. (Check back in five years.)
While a few quarterbacks in attendance remain uncommitted, the majority have embraced a recent trend in recruiting at position and given an early verbal commitment to a program in one of the Power Five conferences. Seven have committed to teams in the SEC.
“They’re great kids, they’re super competitive, they take coaching well,” said Elite 11 coach Jerrod Johnson, the former Texas A&M quarterback who runs his own training club, the Quarterback Club of Houston, and will spend the 2019 season as a paid intern with the Indianapolis Colts.
“I think all these kids are bright. I think they’re picking schools for all the right reasons.”
Here’s how this summer’s Elite 11 class has looked through the competition, with insight from Johnson on several quarterbacks:
Robby Ashford, Hoover (Ala.); committed to Ole Miss
There should be no doubt about Ashford’s athleticism, which was obvious even when competing against the top prospects at his position. While he needs to grow as a thrower to be a factor in the SEC, Ashford has a good foundation to build upon and a high ceiling.
Harrison Bailey, Marietta (Ga.); committed to Tennessee
Speaking of a good starting point: Bailey isn’t a finished product nor the steadiest thrower in attendance, but the physical gifts are clear when he sets his stance and delivers a powerful pass downfield. Bailey has a great frame.
Carson Beck, Mandarin (Fla.); committed to Georgia
Beck can make it look easy. As a prospect, he is set to join Georgia needing a year to acclimate to the speed of the SEC and to add some weight to his frame before being a factor for the Bulldogs’ starting job.
Hudson Card, Lake Travis (Texas); committed to Texas
Card has been among the top two or three quarterbacks since the start of competition. Perhaps his greatest asset is an ability to make clean and catchable throws in every setting. Whether in the pocket or out, to his right side or his left, Card was on the money. With another year of growth, it wouldn’t be a surprise if he was ready to be a factor for Tom Herman and Texas when he steps on campus.
Jacolby Criswell, Morrilton (Ark.); committed to North Carolina
Criswell’s been a really nice surprise. A three-star recruit heading into the event, he’s been consistently ranked in the top grouping of quarterbacks across each day’s events while showing an arm strong enough to hit on sideline throws. He might be a little underrated as a recruit. He’d be another good get at quarterback for Mack Brown and UNC.
Hunter Dekkers, West Sioux (Iowa); committed to Iowa State
The only lefty in the group, Dekkers’ 6-foot-3 and 225-pound frame helps him develop nice power on deep throws; he was making 55-yard heaves with relative ease before and after drills. He’s more of a developmental prospect than some names here, but Dekkers is heading into a nice situation with Matt Campbell at Iowa State.
Luke Doty, Myrtle Beach (S.C.); committed to South Carolina
Coaches here have admired Doty’s steadiness. Has he done anything spectacularly well? No, not really. But nor has Doty done anything poorly — he’s been on target throughout. In the end, he’s put together the sort of performance worthy of a spot among the top five or seven quarterbacks here.
T.J. Finley, Ponchatoula (La.); committed to LSU
At 6-foot-6 and 240 pounds, Finley towers over the rest of the competition. How that size will translate to the college game remains to be seen. But Finley has tremendous arm strength, as you’d expect from someone of his stature, and because of his size and power is a very intriguing prospect for LSU. But there’s work to be done on his mechanics.
Ethan Garbers, Corona del Mar (Calif.); committed to Washington
Like a number of quarterbacks at Elite 11 and most future college passers his age, Garbers needs to add weight and strength to help him push the ball downfield. There are fewer questions about his grasp of the position, as you’d think given the fact Garbers has Washington coach Chris Petersen’s seal of approval.
Garrett Greene, Chiles (Fla.); committed to West Virginia
Greene is the most intriguing prospect in attendance. The son of former MLB catcher Charlie Greene, currently a member of the Milwaukee Brewers’ staff, Greene came up in a baseball environment and, unlike the majority of quarterbacks, didn’t grow up with private tutors and coaches. Still, he has a clean and repeatable motion and significant potential. He could blossom under Neal Brown with the Mountaineers.
“He has one of the natural throwing strokes,” Johnson said of Greene.
Haynes King, Longview (Texas); uncommitted
King has been impressive every step of the way, drawing praise for his consistency, athleticism and approach to the position. The mental side shouldn’t be surprising: King’s father, John, led Longview to the 2018 6-A state title and is considered among the best high school coaches in Texas. King ran a 4.51 40-yard dash during testing and is “just crazy, twitchy fast,” Johnson said.
“He’s the most athletic one here by far. As a coach’s kid, with that athleticism and that mindset, that’s as good a chance you can have. I would put a lot of coins his way that he’s going to ultimately be successful.”
He’s not always perfect: King’s throws will sometimes dip and come in low, which could be a matter of a slight tweak to his delivery or fatigue setting in during a pretty demanding afternoon. Overall, however, he’s been terrific. (Coaches also loved the fact that he’s been on Twitter for more than a year and only tweeted 18 times.)
Sol-Jay Maiava, St. John’s (Washington, D.C.); committed to Brigham Young
Maiava hasn’t done much to stand out from the class. There’s clear talent there — he’s here in North Texas for a reason — but Maiava hasn’t been dealing strikes during drills or when throwing during matchups between receivers and defensive backs.
Jack Miller, Chaparral (Ariz.); committed to Ohio State
Miller came into the event battling a back injury and tried to go on the first day before essentially shutting things down for physical competition. But he looks the part, at least, and coaches have been high on his ability to remain invested despite the disappointment stemming from the injury.
“He’s dealing with some stuff, and that’s the hardest thing,” Johnson said. “It’s hard to judge him from this setting, but he’s been a great teammate.”
Chandler Morris, Highland Park (Texas); committed to Arkansas
Morris was up and down during 7-on-7 play early in competition and seemed a little hesitant to let it rip after a few misreads and interceptions. Undersized at 5-foot-10, he looks like a passer who performs better in pads than in this sort of setting. He’s been at his best when throwing outside the pocket.
Morris will play for his father, Chad, with the Razorbacks; Chad Morris said nothing, not even gameday in the SEC, can match the nervousness he feels when watching his son compete on Friday nights.
Drew Pyne, New Canaan (Conn.); committed to Notre Dame
Pyne is “ahead of the curve mentally because he’s been exposed to so much,” Johnson said of the Notre Dame commitment. Physically, Pyne has a very strong base, which helps add power to his throws. Coaches have praised his maturity and stability through drills – Pyne’s been ranked in the top group nearly throughout competition.
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“He’s super mature,” Johnson said. “He’s been around a ton, done a ton; he’s polished.”
Anthony Richardson, Eastside (Fla.); committed to Florida
From an athletic standpoint, Richardson is hard to ignore. It’s the ability to move, evident even when throwing against the air, that would make Richardson such an interesting prospect for Dan Mullen to work with at Florida. Having said that, Richardson has to develop touch as a passer, though strength isn’t an issue — he led the field in the long-toss competition.
Jeff Sims, Sandalwood (Fla.); committed to Florida State
Sims wasn’t too pleased with his own performance; the strongest compliment he’d pay himself was that he was “good.” But he did better than that: Sims justified his rapid rise up in recruiting standings — he’s leaped up 400 spots in 247Sports’ composite rankings since February — and should have FSU excited about its first four-year quarterback commitment in two full recruiting cycles.
CJ Stroud, Rancho Cucamonga (Calif.); uncommitted
Stroud came in with far less hype than most quarterbacks in attendance and, to be honest, as a little less polished than several of his peers. But he’s “just been a sponge to everything,” Johnson said, and has made significant strides across the competition.
“He just wants to get better. Everything, he’s like, chomping at the bit because he seeks answers. He was twice as good the second day. He has a ton of potential.”
Tyler Van Dyke, Suffield (Conn.); committed to Miami (Fla.)
Miami should be excited about what they could get from Van Dyke, who may not have been the best passer in any one drill but was consistent when able to set his feet and throw from the pocket. He might not be a great fit for every scheme but seems built to play in Miami offensive coordinator Dan Enos’ scheme.
Bryce Young, Mater Dei (Calif.); committed to Southern California
While Young lacks size — he’s only 5-foot-11 and a shade under 180 pounds — he’s a perfect fit for the Trojans’ new offensive scheme, an Air Raid system that values vision, footwork and arm power over measureables. Ranked as the best quarterback out West and one of the best nationally, Young’s done nothing to alter that opinion.
“It’s one of those things where people ask if size matters at quarterback,” Johnson said. “I think it does until it doesn’t. But there’s exceptions to the rule. He’s defeating the odds.”