Columbus hosts Elite 11 regional
Four ESPN 150 recruits among those looking for finals bid
The Elite 11 regionals are intended for top-level rising senior quarterbacks (2013) and select elite underclassmen. All players are Class of 2013 unless otherwise noted.
With time running out to lock down a coveted spot in the finals of the Elite 11 competition, several of the nation's top quarterbacks will descend on the campus of Ohio Dominican University in Columbus, Ohio, on Friday looking for a chance to earn a plane ticket to California.
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.
The winner will earn the sixth spot in the Elite 11 finals, joining Anthony Jennings of Marietta (Ga.), DeVante Kincade of Skyline (Dallas), Tyrone Swoopes of Whiteright (Texas), J.T. Barrett of Rider (Wichita Falls, Texas) and Kevin Olsen of Wayne Hills (Wayne, N.J.).
The list of names scheduled to be in attendance reads like a who's who of signal-callers in the Class of 2013, including De La Salle (Warren, Mich.) star Shane Morris, rated the nation's No. 4 pocket passer and No. 37 overall recruit in the ESPN 150.
This past fall, Morris threw for 1,684 yards and 19 touchdowns, and he also scored six TDs on the ground. Morris led the Pilots to the Division I regional final, but the team fell to eventual Division I champ Cass Tech (Detroit).
Morris, a Michigan commit, seldom shies away from competition, and that will be no different in Columbus.
"I'm looking forward to having a great weekend, performing to the best of my ability and competing with all the great QBs that will be there," he said.
This isn't Morris' first Elite 11, to be sure. He competed and stood out in the Columbus regional last spring as a sophomore. Last month, in Dallas, Morris showed an impressive arm but lacked touch and failed to earn the season's first invitation.
Ultimately, that failure was a good learning experience.
"I learned that putting touch on the ball is very important at the Elite 11 camp setting," he said. "Also I learned that we all need to stay up and be great leaders throughout the day and don't ever get down, no matter what happens."
Morris will have some tough competition if he wants to improve on his Dallas result and walk away with the trip to California. Other quarterbacks expected to be in attendance include Ryan Burns of Stone Bridge (Ashburn, Va.), Matt Alviti of Maine Township (Park Ridge, Ill.), Mitch Trubisky of Mentor (Ohio), Kyle Bolin of Lexington Catholic (Ky.) and Malik Zaire of Archbishop Alter (Kettering, Ohio).
Burns, who towers over many of his competitors at 6-foot-5 and 220 pounds, is rated the nation's No. 3 pocket passer and the No. 17 overall recruit in the ESPN 150. The Stanford commit threw for 1,801 yards and 13 scores in the fall, helping Stone Bridge advance to the Northern Region Division 6 semifinals.
Trubisky, a 6-3, 190-pound signal-caller who produced some eye-popping stats at Mentor in the fall, has earned a ton of offers from colleges including Alabama, Ohio State, Tennessee and Michigan State. Rated the nation's No. 7 dual-threat QB by ESPN, Trubisky is looking forward to the prestigious Elite 11 event.
"The Elite 11 competition is awesome," he said. "I'm surprised at how big it's become. If you're a big-name QB, you want to get into this competition."
Trubisky threw for 3,845 yards and 41 touchdowns last season, and he also rushed for 611 yards and 12 TDs.
Another quarterback who put up impressive stats this past season is Alviti. The 6-foot, 185-pound signal-caller is rated the nation's No. 3 dual-threat QB and No. 113 overall recruit in the ESPN 150. In the fall, he completed better than 63 percent of his passes for 1,940 yards and 26 touchdowns, and he rushed for 512 yards and 12 more scores.
Alviti parlayed his spectacular season into a commitment to Northwestern. He had also earned offers from the likes of Notre Dame, Boston College, Nebraska, Michigan State and Purdue.
Bolin led his team to the state semifinals last season and has visions of making it one step further this fall. The 6-2, 185-pound QB is rated the nation's No. 20 pocket passer by ESPN. He threw for 3,088 yards and 29 scores in the fall. He's committed to Louisville.
Bolin told ESPNHS in April what the Elite 11 competition means to him.
"It's such a respected competition," he said. "Growing up and being a huge quarterback fan, and obviously playing quarterback, I have looked forward to a chance to go to the Elite 11 competition. I want to be one of those guys who has a chance to go to California."
Zaire, a 6-foot, 190-pound quarterback, is rated the nation's No. 10 dual-threat QB by ESPN. He committed to Notre Dame over other top programs such as Alabama, Nebraska, Ohio State, Pittsburgh and Wisconsin.
Ohio State fans would do well to familiarize themselves with another standout who's scheduled to be in attendance -- Jalin Marshall. The nation's No. 55 recruit in the ESPN 150 is listed as an athlete, and he'll be working out as a wide receiver Saturday at the NFTC event. But on Friday, he'll be showcasing his talents as a quarterback.
In the last two seasons for his Middletown (Ohio) team, Marshall has thrown for 1,475 yards and 18 touchdowns. But it's his rushing stats that blew teams away -- he managed 3,285 yards on the ground and scored 37 times over the two-year span. He's committed to the Buckeyes.
And while his legs have garnered the most attention since he's led the offense, Marshall has his sights set on proving to people that he's not just a run-first QB.
"There are a lot of people who doubt my throwing ability," he said. "I want to prove people wrong. I love proving people wrong."
There will be no better stage to prove people wrong than Friday in Columbus.