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ALISO VIEJO, Calif. -- At the 2009 EA SPORTS Elite 11, there are no quarterbacks from the power states of Texas or Florida -- yet the state of Michigan checks in with three.
|Devin Gardner and his Wolverine State natives are making names for themselves at the Elite 11.|
It is the first time in the 11-year history of the event, which is being held at Soka University, that Michigan has had so many quarterbacks selected, matching California for the highest total this year.
Devin Gardner, from Inkster (Mich.) High, served as a ball boy at last year's Elite 11. The other Michigan natives, Joe Boisture of Saline and Robert Bolden from St. Mary's (Orchard Lake), were chosen based on how they competed at either a Nike Football Training Camp or at an Elite 11 regional tryout.
Gardner has committed to Michigan, while Boisture recently switched from Boston College to Michigan State. Bolden has committed to Penn State, which also is represented at the Elite 11 camp by counselor Daryll Clark, the Nittany Lions' current starter.
Gardner and Bolden are both athletic and seem ideal for spread-type offenses. They both have run the 40-yard dash in 4.5 seconds and are nearly the same size with Gardner at 6-foot-4, 201 pounds and Bolden at 6-4, 195 pounds. Boisture is more of a pro-style quarterback and is 6-6, 200 pounds.
"Usually when we see each other in the same state we are competing against each other, but out here we're working together a little bit," said Boisture, who played last season at Goodrich (Mich.) High and passed for 1,700 yards and 15 touchdowns. "We just want to prove that even though we don't have the good weather like they do out here that we work just as hard as anyone."
Gardner was more emphatic in showing his state pride.
"These Cali boys always get a lot of hype and we want to show we're just as good," he said.
Bolden added: "That does play a part in what we're hoping to do this week. With us three being here, that proves the fact that Michigan football is good."
Boisture said he has followed the other two Michigan quarterbacks for two years, particularly Gardner, which isn't surprising. Last year, Gardner starred at Inkster, compiling 1,886 yards passing and 26 touchdowns. Gardner also rushed for 1,401 yards and another 22 scores.
"Ever since our sophomore year, Devin has been a big deal in Michigan," he said. "Devin is supposed to be one of those athlete-type quarterbacks, but out here he's throwing the ball as good as anyone."
Gardner and Bolden have been playing near each other in the Detroit metro area even longer. Bolden has put up impressive stats: nearly 1,000 yards passing in his two years as a starter at St. Mary's.
"I've known of Rob since we were real young," Gardner said. "It's great we're both now in this camp. With the three of us, it's pretty clear that we're the top three quarterbacks in Michigan. I haven't seen anyone that can match us."
|Tyler Bray was Tuesday's Golden Gun.|
At the end of each Elite 11 workout, the assembled quarterbacks compete by throwing the ball through targets set at various intervals with the longest throws getting the most points.
Chandler Whitmer from South High (Downer's Grove, Ill.) was the first Golden Gun winner on Monday night. He had 10 points Monday night and came back with 12 on Tuesday. That was good enough, however, for only a third-place finish.
Tuesday's winner was Kingsburg's (Calif.) Tyler Bray. Bray zinged his throws through the targets for 18 points and edged Nick Montana from Oaks Christian (Westlake Village, Calif.), who totaled 14 points. The only other prep quarterback to connect for double figures was Phillip Sims from Oscar Smith (Chesapeake, Va.), who had 10.
By comparison, the top college counselors in the same contest were Cody Hawkins of Colorado (22) and Colt McCoy of Texas (20). Bray's total was higher than any of the other college quarterbacks.
Mark Tennis is the deputy sports editor of ESPN RISE.