Elite 11 picks back up in Georgia
Several star signal-callers look for finals invite at Atlanta Elite 11 regional
Elite 11: Dallas Regional
Nearly a month after a star-studded opener at Cowboys Stadium, the Elite 11 regional tour continues on Friday evening at Buford (Ga.) High School.
Three quarterbacks have already earned invites to the Elite 11 finals in Redondo Beach, Calif., in July -- DeVante Kincade of Skyline (Dallas), Tyrone Swoopes of Whitewright (Texas) and J.T. Barrett of Rider (Wichita Falls, Texas).
And with plenty of spots left to fill, there will be plenty of quarterbacks on hand in Buford who have the talent to join the Texas trio in California.
This is an especially strong year for Class of 2013 signal-callers in Georgia, and many of them will be going head-to-head on Friday.
Lassiter (Marietta, Ga.) standout Eddie Printz looked strong at last year's Elite 11 regional in Athens, Ga. He followed it up with a terrific junior campaign in which he threw for 3,350 yards and 28 touchdowns to help lead Lassiter to the Class AAAAA state semifinals.
ELITE 11 PRIMER
Tom Luginbill, ESPN's national director of football recruiting, on the Elite 11 regionals:
Why they matter
Events such as these help under-the-radar prospects more than anyone else, especially if they have a good showing, because it likely will lead to instant online exposure.
Why you should pay attention
High-profile prospects competing against one another can give you a pretty good barometer on whether the early recruiting offers and hype are warranted. This event provides a showcase for the top prospects and a chance for under-the-radar passers to develop and get better at the fundamentals and mechanics of the position.
What he looks for
For evaluators, it's about the eye test in terms of measurables: Is a guy as tall as he says, and does he weigh as much as he says? I spend a ton of time studying feet and release mechanics. It's all about feet; it's the essence of accuracy. I want to see whether the guys who spend all their time in the shotgun can take a three-step or five-step drop and get the ball out. You'd be stunned by how many can't. Often, arm strength is the last thing I'm concerned about.
A UCLA commit, Printz believes competing in last year's regional will help him Friday night.
"It was a good learning experience," he said. "I felt like some of the things they taught me I could go back and work on. I felt like they made me a better quarterback as a whole."
Marietta (Ga.) junior Anthony Jennings also took part in last year's Athens regional. Like Printz, he enjoyed a statistically strong junior season, passing for 2,187 yards and 19 touchdowns with just four interceptions while rushing for 464 yards and eight scores.
He did all this while playing with torn cartilage in his right knee all season.
Jennings had arthroscopic surgery in February -- he also played basketball with the injury -- and said he's close to being back to full strength. And he's confident he'll perform well against a star-studded group.
"I'm not caught up in the big names," said Jennings, who's received offers from the likes of Virginia Tech, West Virginia, North Carolina and Iowa. "I might not be talked about the most, but on the field I know I can play with the best of them."
Ramsey, a Georgia verbal, threw for 1,308 yards, 17 touchdowns and just two picks while leading Camden County to the Class AAAAA state quarterfinals in his first season as a starter. The No. 110 overall recruit in the ESPN 150, he also showcased his athleticism by kicking a 57-yard field goal.
McCrary, a Vanderbilt commit, threw for 27 touchdowns and nearly 2,700 yards last season after throwing for 3,345 yards and 25 touchdowns as a sophomore.
A couple of out-of-staters will add even more firepower to the group.
Butler (Matthews, N.C.) junior Riley Ferguson is making his second straight trip to an Elite 11 regional in Georgia. Ferguson has been a starter since his sophomore season, when he led Butler to a state title.
This past year, he threw for 3,345 yards and 48 touchdowns as Butler advanced to the Class 4AA state quarterfinals. Ferguson, who's rated the nation's No. 94 recruit in the ESPN 150, has been offered by Alabama, LSU, Notre Dame, Clemson, Virginia Tech and Michigan, among others.
Sequoyah (Tahlequah, Okla.) standout Brayden Scott threw for more than 2,000 yards as a junior and has offers from Alabama, Clemson, Arkansas, Arizona State, Missouri, Purdue, Arizona and Tulsa.
But as the unheralded Kincade proved by earning MVP honors at the Dallas regional, the biggest names aren't necessarily going to be the ones coming away with an Elite 11 invite.
"Just because you're a high recruit, you still have to go in and prove you're the No. 1 quarterback," said Jennings. "That's my mentality going in there."
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