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IRVING, Texas -- A young trio of quarterbacks stared in awe. They listened intently, almost afraid, it seemed, to open their mouths.
Among them was John Lovett of Hyattsville (Md.) DeMatha Catholic, who came here Saturday to compete against the nation's reputed best, and 6-foot-5 gunslinger David Cornwell of Norman (Okla.) North, the eventual MVP of this Elite 11 regional.
In just whose presence, exactly, were they standing near the center of the practice turf at Valley Ranch, the Dallas Cowboys' facility?
Tony Romo? Maybe Trent Dilfer, the former Super Bowl-winning QB who coaches this roster of future big-name field generals? Or George Whitfield, the California-based guru who makes every stop on the Elite 11 circuit and counts a growing list of QB greats among his students?
No. This was better. This was Johnny Manziel.
He's just three years older than the kids in the Class of 2014, but they see something in Manziel that no one else here could match.
The way they stared, it was as though Manziel, the Texas A&M redshirt freshman who's still white-hot four months after he won the Heisman, was carrying the trophy under his right arm.
"He is their Tom Brady," said Whitfield, who coached Manziel for 10 days last summer in San Diego and escorted him around the Valley Ranch facility Saturday.