- Erik McKinney, ESPN Staff Writer
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LAS VEGAS -- Quarterback Zack Greenlee (Stockton, Calif.) proved he could stand the heat at Saturday's Las Vegas Elite 11 regional, the final Elite 11 regional of the season.
The 6-foot-2, 187-pound quarterback, who's rated the nation's No. 22 pocket passer by ESPN, withstood the desert temperature that soared past 100 degrees on the field turf at UNLV and challenges from some of the top quarterbacks in the country to take home invite No. 12 to the Elite 11 finals to be held next month at Redondo Beach, Calif.
"It feels great to come out here to compete and do my best," Greenlee said. "It feels good to get recognized and win the MVP here."
Greenlee shined at his previous Elite 11 regional showing at the Oakland Elite 11 regional in late May, and once again he was at his best when it mattered most. As one of the nine finalists to go through the "pressure cooker," a sequence of five throws of varying difficulty made as the quarterback moves from one end of the field to the other, Greenlee was perfect -- again.
"He is 10-for-10 in the pressure cooker over two regionals," said Trent Dilfer, the head instructor for the Elite 11, as he announced Greenlee as the winner. "Every time we squeezed him, greatness came out.
"That's a hard, hard drill on purpose. A guy goes 3-for-5 and that's pretty good. He's 10-for-10."
With several highly recruited signal-callers in attendance, including the nation's No. 1 quarterback in the ESPN 150 in Penn State commit Christian Hackenberg (Fork Union, Va./Fork Union Military Academy), Greenlee stood out during the final drill and drew praise from nearly every coach on hand. He said that when he was announced as one of the finalists, a light went on.
"I thought, 'This is it,'" Greenlee said. "I wanted to go out there and kill it at the end, give the coaches the last little piece to see. I did my best, and it turned out well."
Greenlee beat out Hackenberg, Washington commit Troy Williams (Harbor City, Calif./Narbonne), Texas Tech pledge Davis Webb (Prosper, Texas/Prosper), recent Rutgers verbal Chris Laviano (Hicksville, N.Y./Holy Trinity), Maryland commit Shane Cockerille (Baltimore/Gilman), Alabama commit Parker McLeod (Marietta, Ga./Walton), Purdue pledge Danny Etling (Terre Haute, Ind./South Vigo) and Isaac Dotson (Newport, Wash./Newport) for the finals invite.
Greenlee has heard from several local schools and plans to camp with San Jose State and Fresno State this summer, but no program has extended an offer yet. The quarterback said he uses that as motivation to push himself during events like this one. He added that at the end of the day, it's just about making throws. And his ability to do that made all the difference for Dilfer and the selection committee.
"His arm talent -- not just arm strength, but the ability to change speeds, accuracy, power -- are as good as anybody in the country," Dilfer said.
With the invitation, Greenlee will now head to the Elite 11 finals to compete against quarterbacks such as Max Browne (Sammamish, Wash./Skyline), Tyrone Swoopes (Whitewright, Texas/Whitewright), Shane Morris (Warren, Mich./De La Salle) and Cooper Bateman (Salt Lake City/Cottonwood). Dilfer is plenty familiar with that group, having invited all 12 players on their way to the finals thus far.
He said Greenlee can more than hold his own.
"He has been as or more impressive than all of them," Dilfer said of Greenlee. "He has a legit chance to go down and win the thing. He has that fearlessness in his competitive spirit."
The remaining 12 Elite 11 selections will be announced on "The Elite 11 Selection Special," which will air on June 21 at 8 p.m. ET on ESPNU.
3hEthan Sherwood Strauss