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.
Luke Del Rio of Valor Christian (Highlands Ranch, Colo.) and Cooper Bateman of Cottonwood (Salt Lake City) find themselves in enviable positions heading into the Oakland Elite 11 regional on Friday night.
On Friday, both Del Rio and Bateman were selected to the Elite 11 finals. So while the other top signal-callers who'll be in attendance at Contra Costa College will be fighting it out for that coveted invite, Del Rio and Bateman can take comfort knowing their spots are secure.
But make no mistake -- neither will be taking it easy on the competition.
"It's a chance to compete against some of the great quarterbacks in my class," said Del Rio, who earned his invite after a stellar performance at the Columbus Elite 11 regional. "I realized in Columbus I could stack up against those guys. I want to solidify that Columbus isn't just a fluke."
Del Rio, who holds offers from Colorado State and Oregon State, threw for 2,530 yards and 20 touchdowns last season at Episcopal (Jacksonville, Fla.) before enrolling at Valor Christian in February. He's the son of Denver Broncos defensive coordinator and former Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio.
Bateman, the nation's No. 61 recruit in the ESPN 150, passed for 2,484 yards and 26 touchdowns last season. The 6-foot-3, 195-pounder committed to Alabama this week and solidified his spot in the finals with a strong showing at the Dallas regional in March.
As for the quarterbacks in contention for an Elite 11 finals invite on Friday, the headliner is Skyline (Sammamish, Wash.) standout Max Browne.
Rated the nation's No. 13 recruit in the ESPN 150, the USC commit completed 288 of 409 passes (70.4 percent) last season for 4,034 yards, 45 touchdowns and just seven interceptions while leading Skyline to the Class 4A state championship.
"That kid can sling it," said Luke Del Rio. "He's good. I can't wait to compete against him."
Like Browne, Santa Margarita (Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.) signal-caller Johnny Stanton has enjoyed considerable success on the field.
Rated the nation's No. 14 dual-threat quarterback by ESPN, the 6-foot-2, 220-pounder guided the Eagles to the CIF Division I State Championship Bowl Game title last season. Stanton scored the game-winning touchdown on a 1-yard plunge with 16 seconds left.
He finished the year passing for 2,439 yards and 13 touchdowns and ran for 1,528 yards and 25 scores. He's been compared to Tim Tebow for his dual-threat abilities, but he's anxious to show on Friday how he's improved as a passer.
"A lot of people think I'm an athlete playing quarterback," said Stanton. "I want to show that I'm a better thrower than people think. There are going to be a lot of great quarterbacks there. I think I can throw it pretty well on the run. I'm trying to stay consistent and have a good day out there."
A quarterback with similar skills to Stanton who'll be at the Oakland regional is Sefo Liufau of Bellarmine Prep (Tacoma, Wash.). The 6-foot-3, 220-pounder is rated the nation's No. 17 dual-threat quarterback by ESPN and has committed to Colorado. He passed for 2,253 yards and 23 touchdowns and ran for another eight scores as a junior.
Jared Goff of Marin Catholic (Kentfield, Calif.) won't have to travel far to be at the Oakland regional. The Cal commit threw for 3,179 yards and 44 touchdowns last season and led his squad to a runner-up finish in the North Coast Section Division III playoffs. Goff is rated the nation's No. 14 pocket passer by ESPN.