Garrison Cantrell is a quarterback (QB) out of Georgia that has attended the Elite 11 (Elite 11) Academy event four different times. He has attended one in Los Angeles, one in Nashville, and two in Atlanta. He is in the Class of 2026 and prefers to go by his given name of Garrison. He is a multi-sport athlete where he also plays baseball and basketball.
He thoroughly enjoys playing QB as it allows him the opportunity to get his hands on the ball every play, to control and dictate the offense and flow of the game, and to be in the best position on the field to aid his team in their cumulative efforts to drive down the field to score and win a game.
Throughout the interview, Cantrell remained poised and humbled, always attributing his success on the field to his teammates, his coaches, and his father. He loves to be a member of a team and sees life as a competition where he can always take the chance to be a Leader and Captain in everything he does.
What follows is a snippet of the conversation:
Stack.com (Stack): How would you say Elite 11 has helped you develop as a player?
Garrison Cantrell: My footwork has gotten way better, and my confidence on the field has gone up because at the camp we are able to compete with kids that are in the same position and same grade. I think this helps build my confidence as we are all going through the same thing. Also, my throwing has improved with a smoother release, and my spiral has gotten better, tighter.
Stack: Because Elite 11 also focuses on off-field development, how would you say Elite 11 has helped you develop as a person?
Garrison Cantrell: They helped me see that other people are going through their own stuff, and that has helped me in school in realizing that my classmates are also going through their own stuff. They also impacted me off-field by trying to leave every place better than I found it. They really help with stuff that’s not football-related, help with showing character, and being a better leader.
Stack: From sort of an insider’s perspective, a participant’s perspective, take me through the day-by-day of the camp, if you would.
Garrison Cantrell: On Friday, in the afternoon, we got there, we signed in, and were broken into Tribes by age group. We get to know each other here. We may throw or something, but we want to get to know each other. Know each other’s likes, where we’re from, that’s one of the first things we do. Then, we went to the gym to talk with the coaches and staff where we learned more about being a leader.
That took us from the night to Saturday morning. There, Vikings Assistant QB Coach, Jerrod Johnson, spoke to us face-to-face about how to read the defense, and what keys to look for to know if they’re in cover 1, cover 2, cover 3. He spoke about the keys to then know what routes to throw when we see this, what will be open, the little things to know what coverage is in.
We then went back on to the field, started warming up, throwing, and progressing with more footwork and off-platform throws. Then we started going around doing different drills like back-shoulder throws, RPO, slant and bubbles to read defender. Then we went back into the film room.
We did a Zoom call with Cade Spinello from NEGU and he told his story and that he can only see out of half of one eye now. The coaches had us think about putting us in his shoes. Then we went back to the field doing throwing drills the rest of a night until a competition came up with one person selected from the Tribe threw to a receiver on a go route but had to lead ‘em a bit. I think a Class of 2028 guy won that.
On Sunday morning, Malik Willis spoke with us about his journey. He told us how he didn’t play QB until his Junior year in high school, before that, he played receiver. He said that he didn’t even get an offer until after his Senior season was over. He said that he went to Auburn where he competed with Bo Nix, but lost the slot to him, then transferred to Liberty which turned out to be a good situation for him, made him a better QB. He said something like saying how everything doesn’t always turn out how you expect it to be, but God is good, and plans come as they do.
After that, we did one more rotation of drills that led to what they do at every camp, the Epic Games. This is where Tribes compete in a bunch of different drills, but they are just fun little competitions that may not be football-related but are still fun. Fun little competitions like starting at the goal line then throwing the ball as far as you can to yourself, a medicine ball relay, going into the gym and shooting three-pointers with the football, we had a Tribal dance-off, bowling, tic-tac-toe, and the last thing was a dead hang competition. It was all timed and the last person that dropped of the Tribe was the Tribe’s final time.
All of this was for points and added to the final score against all the other Tribes. I think one of the older Tribes won it, but it was still just fun and compete and that is what you’re there for.
Stack: At the camp, was there a coach or staff member that really stood out to you?
Garrison Cantrell: Yeah, Jeff Harper who’s from Louisiana. He’s just always happy to be there to coach, he takes the time out of his weekend from his family to coach, and he has developed me as a person and player. He was my Tribe leader last spring at the Lipscomb Academy and was my coach for the Epic Game competition there.
At my first camp in Atlanta, he wasn’t my Tribe leader, but he came up and spoke about leadership. And, what he said really stuck with me. I can’t quite remember the exact words, but something along the lines of doing the right thing even when no one is looking. That really stuck with me.
Stack: At this Atlanta camp, you listened to some Trent Dilfer podcasts. Remember the one about Brett Favre’s philosophy of-
Garrison Cantrell: Oh yeah, about knowing everyone in the building.
Stack: Yeah, that’s the one. What did you take from that?
Garrison Cantrell: It was very important to know everyone in the room because relationships are key. I always heard that if you know someone, they know someone, they might not be the person, but they might know someone that does.
Greg Cantrell (Garrison’s Father): Did you understand that, cause that kind of lost me.
Stack: Yeah, I think Garrison is saying that you may need something but don’t know necessarily who to ask, but you may know someone to ask that may know someone else. Kind of like the whole I know a guy who knows a guy.
Greg Cantrell: Ah, yeah, I can add on to that because we still live in the same community where I grew up. I always tell people to call me for anything and if I can’t help you, I usually know someone who can help you, or know someone who knows someone who can help you.
Stack:: Exactly. Now, Garrison, you listened to another Trent Dilfer podcast of Warren Moon talking about the importance of a support system. You remember that?
Garrison Cantrell: Yeah.
Stack: Okay, and, who would you say is your support system?
Garrison Cantrell: Definitely my dad. I may have a terrible game or even a great game, it doesn’t matter, I know that he’s there for me to support me, to take care of me, and that he loves me. He helps get my name out there, to promote myself, and there for me when I need him.
Greg Cantrell: And I feed and clothe him and provide him shelter too.
Stack:: Because a support system is good to have for both high and lows like Warren Moon talked about, what would you say has been the highest moment as a QB thus far in your career?
Garrison Cantrell: Oh there have been so many, but one that comes to mind was a game against Park View where I threw for 2 TD’s. That was one of my favorite games even though we didn’t win, we weren’t expected to win. We weren’t even excepted to score, but as a team, we made the game close. We came together as a team after that game and got better and started winning. I think that game helped us build confidence.
Stack: That’s awesome. And, what about Elite 11 stands out to you as a program compared to any other camp or program you may have attended?
Garrison Cantrell: At every camp I’ve been to, its about football, football, football and throwing. But even though Elite 11 is about that too, its about more. They talk about real-world stuff that they just don’t talk about at other camps. Other camps talk mostly about football and maybe some school stuff like grades, but Elite 11 talks about the community and other off-field stuff.
One of the coaches at Elite 11, Coach Whitfiled said that when college coaches come up to your high school, they talk to everyone from the coach to the teachers, the lunch ladies, the students, the teachers, everyone. So, it made respecting everyone as the main thing that stands out that I take from the camp.
Greg Cantrell: And, if I can come in from the parent standpoint on that.
Stack: Of course.
Greg Cantrell: I have taken Garrison to many camps and I have to say that what he gets from Elite 11 is worth its weight in gold. It’s just a quality program at Elite 11. I like the on-field QB specific drills and true playing, but I really like the additional work on leadership Elite 11 does, of about being the guy in the field house and community. Of being that guy.
Stack: That guy that everyone kind of looks to? Cause as a QB, they are seen as a head taller and will look up to.
Greg Cantrell. Right. I also really like how Elite 11 talks about how everybody is different with different cultures and backgrounds. As a QB, it’s important to know how to lead the differences in people and Elite 11 works with the boys to help them with all that. And, I like how Elite 11 seems to be fully about developing the boys as people as well as players. Other camps seem to be about the money only and building their brand. I can understand that, but when it becomes the most important thing, I just turn away and become opposed to it. Elite 11 is not like that at all.
Stack: Right, Elite 11 definitely emphasizes their philosophy of character development and helping the young QBs develop more than anything.
And, last two questions here. Garrison, what is one piece of advice you would give someone that is thinking about attending an Elite 11 Academy or other event?
Garrison Cantrell: My best advice would be to be prepared to do something besides throwing a football. Get to know the people in your group. They can develop into a support system for you to get advice from or give advice to if they need it. Don’t be so uptight, let it loose, and do your best.
Stack: Good advice. And, last question, Garrison, what do you like about Elite 11 the most? You have attended multiple camps so you keep going back to it for a reason.
Garrison Cantrell: Yeah, I like it cause the coaches push you to get better every time. They really know what they are talking about. They have already experienced everything you are going through. I mean, Trent Dilfer played in the NFL, and they are always helping us to improve.
Garrison Cantrell has high aspirations and plans to attend even more Elite 11 camps.