Penn State commit Marcus Stokes demonstrated his "natural arm talent" on the opening day of the Elite 11 Finals, where he seeks to solidify his presence as one of the nation's best 2023 quarterbacks.
Stokes is among 20 quarterbacks competing in the three-day event in Los Angeles, which annually hosts the position's top rising stars. Stokes stood out, according to Sports Illustrated's John Garcia, Jr., notably with his performance on the move.
"Stokes owns some of the most natural arm talent among the group of passers and put it on display throughout night one, seen particularly in red-zone drills and when he was on the move," Garcia Jr. wrote in his roundup of Day 1.
"Like [Oklahoma commit Jackson] Arnold, Stokes is quite comfortable off a natural platform and he can trigger towards a target very quickly in the process. Taking juice off of the ball may be the next step in the future Nittany Lion recruit's development, though even misses came out relatively clean and with tight spirals attached."
Stokes, from Ponte Vedra, Fla., has a versatile arm and is adroit at keeping plays alive. Stokes told Garcia Jr. that he has been channeling his adrenaline better of late.
"I think I’ve improved most being calm in the pocket," Stokes told Garcia Jr. after Tuesday's session. "I used to be a little jittery, I was very skittish. But I’ve grown to be very calm, and confident."
Stokes also told Garcia Jr. that he has heard rumors about other schools, notably Florida, trying to flip his commitment. But Stokes said he's firmly committed to Penn State.
"Obviously I've been seeing it on social media," Stokes told Garcia Jr. "You know, 'Just try to flip Marcus Stokes, that's the only hope for the Gators.' But I'm locked in [with Penn State]."
Stokes is entering his senior season at Nease High, Heisman Trophy winner Tebow's alma mater, where he threw for 2,672 yards and 22 touchdowns last season, according to the St. Augustine Record. The 6-2, 180-pound Stokes also rushed for 496 yards.
Stokes committed to Penn State during a recruiting tour that included stops at Cincinnati, Indiana, Mississippi and Florida State. He is is a four-star prospect, according to 247Sports, and the No. 22 quarterback in the 2023 recruiting cycle. He can climb that list with a standout performance at the Elite 11 Finals.
Penn State has developed a successful pipeline with Elite 11. Stokes is the fifth Penn State quarterback signee to compete since 2016, when current starter Sean Clifford participated in the event.
Current redshirt freshman Christian Veilleux (2020) and true freshman Drew Allar (2021) are Elite 11 alums. Michael Johnson Jr., who ultimately transferred to Florida Atlantic, competed in 2018. Christian Hackenberg is celebrating the 10-year anniversary of his 2012 trip to Elite 11.
Fifteen of the nation's top-20 quarterbacks, per the 247Sports rankings, are in the Elite 11 Finals field in Los Angeles. The top-ranked uncommitted quarterback is No. 4 Dante Moore of Detroit.
According to Garcia Jr., Moore also was the top-ranked quarterback of Elite 11's opening day.
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