The coaches I spoke with at the finals said this year’s class of quarterbacks is the most talented group from top to bottom in the history of the Elite 11.
You’re going to see a lot of Quinn Ewers, Cade Klubnik, and rightfully so. Those two may be the next Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields.
STRONGEST ARM: QUINN EWERS, OHIO STATE COMMIT
Honorable Mentions: Maalik Murphy, Texas commit & Nick Evers, Florida commit
Quinn Ewers spins the ball like no other athlete I’ve ever seen at his age. At one point during the ‘Rail Shot Challenge,’ he unleashed a ball, albeit incomplete, that spun so rapidly my eyes twitched.
It’s not hyperbole to say Ewers will walk into the QB room in Columbus a year from now with the strongest arm on the roster.
A coach I spoke with told me that Nick Evers “lets the ball scream off of his hand,” and despite not recording the highest score, he impressed a lot of people with his Pro Day.
And with Maalik Murphy, he’s got a hose too but inconsistency throw-to-throw, day-to-day plagued him throughout camp.
It’s not surprising; he played six games as a junior.
MOST ACCURATE: CADE KLUBNIK, CLEMSON COMMIT
Honorable Mentions: Luther Richesson, uncommitted & Devin Brown, University of Southern California commit
Klubnik’s ball placement and precision as a passer balance out his lack of overall horsepower.
In the 7-on-7 championship, Klubnik rolled out to his left on a play and threaded the needle to a receiver covered along the sideline that made you go, ‘wow.’
He also finished first in the ‘Mega-Target Challenge’ in addition to being named the finals MVP:
Coaches said Richesson looked “polished,” “consistent,” and played like a “machine.” I watched him closely during 7-on-7s, and whenever Richesson found himself inside the 10-yard line, not a single ball hit the ground.
When the field shrunk, Richesson’s ball placement was sublime.
Targets towards the back of the endzone caught passes up and away from their bodies while receivers shallow and running parallel along the goal line found the ball in their hip pocket.
Richesson’s execution looked like teach-tape, and I asked him how he operated so well in those situations. He told me his head coach Trent Dilfer drills those fundamentals all the time in-season.
BEST DEEP BALL: QUINN EWERS, OHIO STATE COMMIT
Honorable Mentions: Walker Howard, LSU commit & Conner Weigman, Texas A&M commit
Arguably the most difficult superlative to hand out because as George Whitfield put it to me, there were four or five “scorchers” with this group.
Plenty of “pitchers,” power throwers, come through the Elite 11 annually, but Jerrod Johnson told me how rare it is for a quarter of the finalists to rip fire with precision.
And that’s Ewers:
Howard may have lost in the ‘Rail Shot Challenge’ to Connor Weigman, but he still made plenty of throws throughout camp that left my jaw hanging.
Listed at six-foot-one, I’m not sure about that. Being around him, Howard may be closer to five-foot-eleven or breaking six-foot.
But Jordan Palmer said Howard “gets as much out of his body” as anyone else he’s seen come through the Elite 11.
MOST ATHLETIC: DREW ALLAR, PENN STATE COMMIT
Honorable Mentions: Nate Johnson, Utah commit, Tayven Jackson, Tennessee commit
This superlative draws heavily upon observations I made and what coaches said about these finalists’ ability to move around and to throw outside the pocket.
Bruce Feldman reported coaches he spoke with compared Drew Allar to Buffalo Bills’ QB Josh Allen.
For reference, Allar’s 6’5” and 228lbs, and Allen’s the same height with nine more pounds on his frame.
And Allar moves extremely well, which pleasantly surprised the coaches for an athlete of his size, which prompted the Allen comparison.
Briant Stumpf oversees the Elite 11 regional tour and told me that Nate Johnson recorded a 4.45 40-yard dash at the Stack Sports Showcase last November.
His throwing at the finals left a lot to be desired. To be fair, Johnson played five games at quarterback his junior year because of the pandemic. He spent most of his sophomore season at receiver.
Tayven Jackson plays football, basketball, and golf for Center Grove High School in Greenwood, Indiana. Coaches I spoke with at the Elite 11 said he’s “one of the most impressive physically” among this year’s finalists.
BEST DECISION-MAKER: CADE KLUBNIK, CLEMSON COMMIT
Honorable mentions: Devin Brown, University of Southern California commit & Zach Pyron, Baylor commit
Cade Klubnik claimed a lion’s share of the reps, leading Team Royal to victory against Team Anthracite in the championship of the Opening’s 7-on-7 tournament.
And while Jordan Palmer described Clubnik as a “twitchy” athlete, I think he plays more with a twitchy mind.
His ability to discern when’s an appropriate time to cut loose and fit a pass into a tight window makes Klubnik special.
Brown finished a close second in this category. The guys I spoke with on the coaching staff told me he knew the playbook, which allowed the USC commit to make decisions and get the ball out quickly.