Day 4 of the 2021 Elite 11 Finals wrapped up with a 7-on-7 tournament featuring the 20 quarterbacks split up among four teams alongside skill players from the Opening.
Led by this year’s finals MVP Cade Klubnik, Team Royal came out on top versus Team Anthracite in the championship.
Klubnik Wins Finals MVP
The tournament kicked off with a jamboree session the night before on Friday at Mira Costa High School in Manhattan Beach:
Klubnik, who’s entering his senior year at Austin Westlake, went wire-to-wire as the No.1 quarterback among the finalists in the eyes of the coaching staff.
The Clemson commit never relinquished his place atop the rankings since camp began on Wednesday.
Coaches I spoke to considered him and Quin Ewers to be in a tier of their own followed by the other 18 finalists.
And it’s ironic because Clubnik beat Ewers this past football season in the state championship game. How the storyline develops between those two heading into college will be fascinating to follow.
Ewers is committed to Ohio State, who’ve split games with Clemson in the last two College Football Playoffs.
From talking to coaches about Klubnik and from observing him the past few days, his energy felt like a distinguishing factor. It waned at times among the other finalists but never with him.
Team Royal vs. Team Anthracite
Jordan Palmer served as the offensive coordinator for Team Royal, giving the lion’s share of the reps to Klubnik in the championship game.
And that’s where I felt Team Royal held an advantage over Team Anthracite, whose quarterbacks Devin Brown, Luther Richesson, and Conner Weigman each played for at least two possessions.
Pictured: Anthracite Offensive Coordinator Jerrod Johnson, quarterback Luther Richesson and skill players discuss in-game adjustments.
Palmer put Klubnik in a position to work himself into a lather and find his rhythm, and the consistency of Team Royal’s offense looked like the difference-maker:
But credit Team Anthracite’s Defensive Coordinator Ryan Clark, a former NFL safety for the Pittsburgh Steelers and Washington Football Team, because Klubnik committed a number of turnover-worthy-plays:
2021 Elite 11
11 other finalists joined Klubnik yesterday as part of the 2021 Elite 11:
In years past with 24 finalists at the start of the finals, the coaching staff selected 12 to bring with them to the Opening later in the summer.
Every name with the exception of Zach Pyron ranked in the top 11 at least once in the first three days of the finals.
The coaches I spoke with, especially one in particular, believe Zach Pyron “will be a really good college football player,” at Baylor because of his “infectious energy.”
Pyron surged up the rankings with how he performed at the jamboree on Friday and the 7-on-7 tournament prior to the championship game on Saturday.
Drew Allar impressed a lot of guys I spoke with because of his knowledge of the playbook and command in the huddle during the 7-on-7 periods.
For someone who’s 6’5” and 228 lbs, his ability to move around so well makes him a unique athlete.
Ty Simpson made up for turning the ball over by fitting several into tight windows that wowed the coaches.
Walker Howard gets “as much out of his body” in the eyes of the coaches as anyone to come through the Elite 11 and spent all camp peppering the staff with questions.
But the coaches’ thoughts about Luther Richesson perplexed me because despite what I heard he never garnered serious consideration for finals MVP.
Even Klubnik showed love:
Several coaches singled Richesson out among the group as the quarterback they’d want to lead a game-winning drive, someone who thrives under pressure and knows what to do and when.
And that to me seems like the best evaluation a quarterback could receive.