All shapes, sizes and ability levels showed up in State College, Pa., this weekend to participate in the EA Sports Elite 11 regional combine on the campus of Penn State University. We would not call it the best camp we have seen this spring in terms of overall group depth, but there were some bright spots to highlight and some sleepers who emerged with good showings.
Best Player (on this day)
This was a tough decision at this camp. We are not convinced Boone is the best prospect by any means, but on this day he performed well. Boone is not the tallest, nor does he possess the best physical gifts. Still, in terms of his arm, feet, release mechanics and coachability, he was the most consistent performer for much of the day -- not only at the Elite 11, but also at the NFTC portion of the event. He has a quick arm and showed he is capable working from the gun and under center showing quality drop quickness and adequate timing. The Duke commit is rough around the edges but was consistently solid throughout the day.
(McKees Rock, Pa./Sto-Rox)
It took him a while for things to click, but Jones has good size, a sturdy build and a big arm. However, he is extremely raw and needs a lot of technical work to become a quarterback, not just an athlete, with a rifle on his shoulder. Early in the day he was not impressive, but by the end of the day, he became more comfortable; threw with more confidence; and, as a result, was more accurate. Accuracy and consistent throwing mechanics will determine just how successful Jones will be at the collegiate level. He has upside but, much like Raymond Cotton last year, must become more refined and consistent in his methods.
Not only is he a sleeper, but Reilly also had the best arm, best velocity and one of the quickest releases of any prospect in attendance. He has a tall, lanky frame with tons of room for development, bulk and strength. He showed good feet and consistent mechanics and looks to be able to work both from under center and out of the shotgun. However, for Reilly to get the most out of his abilities, he is going to have to become an accurate passer, which on this day we did not see much of. He will really spray the ball around and must be careful not to be just a fastball pitcher, but learn how to change ball speeds and use his feet and weight transfer through the hips to develop consistent accuracy. Boy, does that ball pop off his hand, though.
We are still not buying that he will end up as a quarterback at the next level -- unless it is as a spread option player out of the shotgun. Stokes, however, was impressive on the day and got better as the event went on. He has a quick, whip-like release and smooth mechanics. He lacks height and bulk and is a lean, muscular kid with a fast metabolism, so it will be hard for him to gain weight, but he showed great feet, good timing and quickly adjusted to the drills and what was asked of him quickly. We do not believe his offensive scheme in high school accentuates his strengths, but if he gets into the right one at the next level, he has a real chance to succeed.
Young and Stokes could be twins -- they are built exactly the same in terms of height, weight and frame and have similar methods as passers. Young is a bit more mechanical as a passer while Stokes is smoother, but the ball comes out quickly for both of them, with very good zip. I don't believe either of them will be a consistent deep-ball passer at the next level because of limited downfield arm strength, but Young is an exciting dual-threat guy to watch.
McCummings is reminiscent of James Franklin, whom we saw at the Fort Worth Elite 11 last month. McCummings has very good size, a thick build and a big arm with excellent velocity, but he is green and rough in terms of consistency. At times, he looked very good with great power in his arm and would stick the throw with his feet underneath him. Other times, he looked like a loose firehose with the water pressure on full blast. He is a bit of a project much in the same way Paul Jones is, but he possesses the physical tools nonetheless.
(Gambrillis, Md./Arundel Senior)
Cosh's dad is on the staff with Bill Snyder at Kansas State, and he has been around the game all his life. We actually liked him better on tape than we did on this day, but that is really what it is all about anyway. Cosh is pretty polished and picks things up quickly. He lacks ideal height but has a live arm and threw extremely well on the move. He has some upside, and it would probably benefit him to be in the shotgun some.
Underclassman to watch
(North Bergen, N.J./Bergen Catholic)
McEvoy has great height and the frame to fill out nicely. He displayed a live arm and quick release with quality RPMs. Once he caught on to what was being taught, he looked very sharp and got better by day's end. With his size and arm, McEvoy will be coveted early on in the process.
Don't "pat" the ball
Generally two things are happening or are going to happen when quarterbacks pat the ball while dropping or setting up, and both of them are bad. First, patting the ball usually is a sign of uncertainty and being late on a throw -- or waiting for someone to get open. It also can slow a delivery and alter mechanics. Second, when you see a QB patting the ball, nine times out of 10 the rush is closing in and he is going to get hit or sacked.
A QB must guard the ball with his off-hand at all times in a comfortable and relaxed manner. Don't pull it away just before delivery, and don't pull it away when flushed or on the move, which many young QBs have a tendency to do. If you train yourself to keep guarding the ball with your off-hand, you will eliminate patting and become a more crisp and sound thrower with less wasted motion in your delivery.
Tom Luginbill is the National Recruiting Director for ESPN's Scouts Inc.