Getting to Know the 2021 Elite 11 Finalists

An introduction to the 20 Elite 11 Finalists from across the country, set to compete in Los Angeles this week.
Author:
Publish date:

Photo: Cade Klubnik (left), Quinn Ewers (middle), Maalik Murphy (right); Credit: Sports Illustrated All-American

20 of the country's top quarterbacks in the class of 2022 will gather at Mira Costa (Calif.) High School this week to compete in the Elite 11 Finals, to determine exactly that: The 11 most elite quarterbacks in the nation this cycle. 

Contestants have been selected after strong showings at regional camps throughout the year in hopes of following in the footsteps of recent event winners like Tua Tagovailoa, Justin Fields and 2020 MVP Caleb Williams

Sports Illustrated All-American will have boots on the ground to cover each day of the event, assessing each passer in attendance, filming nearly every throw, and grading the performers as such. We've reviewed each quarterback's film and covered their recruitment to date to offer Elite 11 spectators a background on each prospect, which you can find below.

[Related: Big Arms, Sleepers Define 2021 Elite 11 Roster]

Drew Allar

Height/weight: 6-foot-4.5, 228 pounds

High school: Medina (Ohio) High

Committed to: Penn State

Drew Allar owns a great frame for the quarterback position and ideal arm strength to pair. On film, Allar has shown the ability to push the ball down the field from a set base and on the run, displaying a compact throwing motion that can make throws from numerous angles. Allar is consistently accurate when throwing deep and outside the numbers with anticipation. He isn't blazing fast but Allar's movement skills are a proven asset against pressure, allowing him to maneuver away from pass rushers and occasionally break away for big runs.

Devin Brown

Height/weight: 6-foot-3, 189 pounds

High school: Draper (Utah) Corner Canyon via Queen Creek (Ariz.) High

Committed to: Southern California

A longtime pledge to USC, Devin Brown picked the Trojans as a relatively little-known underclassman recruit, but since has looked like a classic Pac-12 passer on both Friday nights and otherwise, including when he dominated the Houston Elite 11 regional in March (video below) against a stacked field. The Arizona native is equipped with a plus right arm with a very quick, almost over-the-top release that enables him to play accurate to all three levels. Strong in his lower half with better movement skill than one may expect, he can play outside the pocket with effectiveness as a passer. While at Queen Creek (Ariz.) High, he improved production greatly between 2019 and 2020 and will now hit a new challenge in 2021, moving up to Utah to play for state power Corner Canyon High, replacing USC freshman quarterback and first-team SI All-American QB Jaxson Dart. 

Jacurri Brown

Height/weight: 6-foot-3.5, 203 pounds

High school: Valdosta (Ga.) Lowndes

Committed to: Miami

It's all about the tools when it comes to Jacurri Brown's game. Although he has work to do when it comes to accuracy and decision-making in the pocket, Brown has one the strongest arms of the group as well as impressive speed and rushing power for the position, living up to a true dual-threat label. His throwing mechanics and reads on underneath concepts will need to be sharpened as he continues to progress. Brown has started since his freshman season at Lowndes and is widely respected as the leader of his team, dating back to when he earned the full-time starting gig as a sophomore.

[Related: Jacurri Brown Previews Elite 11]

Tevin Carter

Height/weight: 6-foot-3.5, 230 pounds

High school: Memphis (Tenn.) PURE Academy

Considering: Auburn, Georgia Tech, Memphis, others

One of the feel-good stories of the spring regional circuit was the re-emergence of Tevin Carter. The Memphis native, who led first-year program PURE Academy in 2020, followed it up with a big offseason after dealing with injury as an underclassman. A big passer with a classic, three-quarter delivery and fairly quick release, he can touch all three levels with ease, but is seldom afraid to take what the defense gives him at that same rate. Carter can play in the pocket and off-script, with noticeable velocity manipulation relative to the situation, even working off of his back foot at times. There is a calm in his demeanor while under pressure that should continue to translate in these high-intensity settings.

AJ Duffy

Height/weight: 6-foot-1.5, 218 pounds

High school: Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy

Committed to: Florida State

AJ Duffy has a well-built frame for the quarterback position but may be considered undersized by his height. However, Duffy plays anything but small, and instead with plenty of poise. Duffy's throwing motion is quick and compact. When he steps into his throw, particularly from a clean pocket, Duffy can spin it, however, we'd like to see a larger sample size of throws into the short-to-intermediate middle of the field. His throwing power can continue to be enhanced under pressure so long as Duffy adjusts his base mechanics. Don't mistake his mechanics under pressure being a fault for succumbing to duress, though. He'll stand in traffic and take hits to deliver the ball.

[Related: AJ Duffy Previews Elite 11]

Nick Evers

Height/weight: 6-foot-2.5, 188 pounds

High school: Flower Mound (Texas) High

Committed to: Florida

Although he was a bit of a late-riser in the 2022 recruiting class, Nick Evers heads to Elite 11 to prove that he belongs in the top group. A quick decision-maker in an option-based offense, Evers wastes little time finding a target and releases the ball with great velocity off of a three-quarters throwing motion. Evers can create zip on throws to all three levels of the field, and while we'd like to see him unlock greater velocity on deep passes, his power on short-to-intermediate throws and from the hash to the opposite sideline is immaculate. A one-year starter thus far, Evers completed 68% of his passes for 25 touchdowns and six interceptions.

Quinn Ewers

Height/weight: 6-foot-2.5, 203 pounds

High school: Southlake (Texas) Carroll

Committed to: Ohio State

Quinn Ewers will walk into Elite 11 with similar expectations to those of Caleb Williams a year ago, considered the favorite to win the finals' Most Valuable Player Award. Ewers owns a somewhat elongated throwing motion but the ball glides off of his hand with ease, and his windup is versatile as Ewers can make throws from every angle. He has the arm strength to push the ball down the field and hit quick throws in stride with anticipation. Ewers can put adequate touch on any pass and has a natural feel for placement, putting the ball where only his receiver can get it at any level of the gridiron. He's decisive from the pocket as well and trusts his reads, making quick decisions and getting the ball out of his hand fast.

Holden Geriner

Height/weight: 6-foot-2.5, 213 pounds

High school: Savannah (Ga.) Benedictine Military

Committed to: Auburn

One of the two-time regional competitors this spring, Holden Geriner impressed at both the Atlanta and Orlando camps with SIAA in attendance thanks to his big frame, cat-quick release and effortless throwing ability while on the run. The Auburn commitment is fairly tall and filled out, compensating for a slightly dropped release point, with an ease in getting the ball out once the decision has been made. On Friday nights,  Geriner is productive and efficient, having completed 68% of his attempts as a junior, a massive improvement from his first go-round as a starter. He is smooth, protects the football and simply gets the job done from an accuracy standpoint about as well as any thrower in the field. 

Katin Houser

Height/weight: 6-foot-3, 196 pounds

High school: Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco

Committed to: Michigan State

Katin Houser is a long-limbed quarterback who can continue to unlock his arm strength over the next few years of development. Houser has shown plenty of comfort making throws on the run to his current side of the field. His velocity on passes from one side of the field to another has room to grow, but his accuracy and zip into the middle of the field suffices. Houser currently splits reps at quarterback for St. John Bosco - although his tag-team partner is intriguing, in an ideal world Houser should be able to hold down the starting gig altogether.

Walker Howard

Height/weight: 6-foot-0.5, 186 pounds

High school: Lafayette (La.) St. Thomas More Catholic 

Committed to: LSU

Walker Howard has somehow lived up to the hype at every checkpoint over the last year-plus, from his Friday night dominance to seemingly easy work on the spring circuit. A massive junior campaign in Louisiana, where he threw for 3,000-plus yards and 35 touchdowns in just nine games, was followed by precision practice in the camp setting. Howard packs a punch with an over-the-top release on one of the stronger bases in the field, enabling him to get juice on the football to all three levels. Strong athletically, too, he shines brightest with timing and intermediate level windows while working on a level plane regardless of launch point. 

Tayven Jackson

Height/weight: 6-foot-3.5, 193 pounds

High school: Greenwood (Ind.) Center Grove

Committed to: Tennessee

Tayven Jackson is a two-sport star in the state of Indiana who has notably led a game-winning drive in football and hit a game-winning shot against rival Cathedral High School over the past couple of years. Jackson is a gunslinger within Center Grove's offense and can throw with touch down the field targeting concepts across the middle and outside of the numbers. We need to see more underneath game, however.  Although his listed size is serviceable, Jackson will need to add plenty of bulk to his frame in college. The length on Jackson's frame suggests this is possible. His footwork in the pocket will also need to be addressed, but Jackson certainly keeps his feet active.

Nate Johnson

Height/weight: 6-foot-0.5, 188 pounds

High school: Clovis (Calif.) High

Committed to: Utah

Beyond his Elite 11 regional performance, Johnson became a red-hot quarterback recruit in the spring months, beginning with the spring football season and culminating with a pledge to the Utah Utes in mid-June. Not only does he distribute the football with great anticipation and touch, but the Pac-12 pledge is arguably the most dynamic QB in the field when it comes to his legitimate wheels. Johnson threatens the defense with the entirety of the field on Friday nights, tools that will help in the drills designed to move these top passers off-platform all week long. He accounted for 1,300-plus yards and 13 total touchdowns in five games this year and could be just scratching the surface of his potential at the game's most important position. 

Cade Klubnik

Height/weight: 6-foot-2, 182 pounds

High school: Austin (Texas) Westlake 

Committed to: Clemson

He may not own the same elite tools that quarterbacks such as Ewers possess, but Cade Klubnik is surely one of the sharpest throwers in attendance for Elite 11. Klubnik is a poised passer from the pocket with relatively clean throwing mechanics from head to toe, who can deliver a strike while under pressure. Klubnik may be the most consistent touch passer of the group, pairing arm power with anticipation and loft to almost always find a receiver in stride. Klubnik posted a touchdown-to-interception ratio of nearly 12:1 in 2020. Not a speedster but Klubnik can get the job done with his feet.

Maalik Murphy

Height/weight: 6-foot-5, 231 pounds

High school: Gardena (Calif.) Serra

Committed to: Texas

There has long been buzz around Maalik Murphy and he continues to impress those who get a close look at the California native who happens to hold the most college-ready frame in the field of competitors. After waiting his turn at Serra High, he took the reigns this spring and flashed some of the ability with a big right arm, adequate mobility and the physical traits that made his recruitment a national battle before he picked Texas. Murphy's football jumps off his hands with less effort compared to some in the field, while he plays with true control from an alignment and balance standpoint, even when working on the move. A delivery in the 90-degree ballpark, with the ability to drop the arm further when the need is presented, allows the future Longhorn to make every throw on the tree. 

Zach Pyron

Height/weight: 6-foot-2, 212 pounds

High school: Pinson (Ala.) Pinson Valley 

Committed to: Baylor

Pyron has shown the ability to squeeze short, but powerful throws into tight windows, which should lead to success in an option-based offense. His placement is solid to the first two levels of the field and should only continue to improve. Pyron can make deep throws but more so with touch and anticipation instead of pure zip. Pyron's footwork on three and five-step drops will need to be retooled at the next level as his backpedal can get choppy. We'd also like to see Pyron create more torque as he follows through.

Luther Richesson

Height/weight: 6-foot-3, 205 pounds

High school: Nashville (Tenn.) Lipscomb Academy 

Considering: Appalachian State, Central Michigan, Charlotte, others

Luther Richesson may be the participant with the least amount of fan fare heading into the event, but he showed out at his home field this spring and punched his ticket to the finals in a classic sense. He's big, accurate and hits the mark in what is likely the most important element of the position and the event -- consistency. There is a maturity in his game both in the pocket and on the move, leading to accuracy and strong execution on a given play. Richesson has little issue pushing the ball to the third level, but makes the 'wow' throws when windows narrow, so it would be foolish to overlook him among contenders as the event wares on. 

Ty Simpson

Height/weight: 6-foot-1, 198 pounds

High school: Martin (Tenn.) Westview

Committed to: Alabama

Ty Simpson can push the ball down the field but his arm strength is most apparent when throwing outside, particularly from the opposite hash - "pro" throws to the boundary. Simpson has little-to-no issue generating throwing power while on the run and evading rushers, even when throwing across his body. Simpson's ball placement is solid in general but can improve. Extremely elusive under pressure but doesn't profile as a dual-threat rusher. Given his lackluster offensive line, we'd like to see Simpson operate under less stress - the results are likely to be outstanding. Simpson is slimly built and could stand to add 15-20 pounds to his frame at the next level.

AJ Swann

Height/weight: 6-foot-2, 200 pounds

High school: Canton (Ga.) Cherokee

Committed to: Maryland

When it comes to drills where quarterbacks throw on the run at Elite 11, AJ Swann is someone to keep an eye on. He doesn't own the strongest arm of the group but has shown consistent poise in the face of pressure and the ability to extend plays and make passes with and without setting his base. Swann can twist and make throws across his body and adjust his throwing motion to put passes in stride while moving his feet. All things considered, we'd like to see Swann play with a more consistent structure within the pocket.

Conner Weigman

Height/weight: 6-foot-2, 208 pounds

High school: Cypress (Texas) Bridgeland

Committed to: Texas A&M

The same sentiment for AJ Swann and the ability to throw on the run applies to Weigman, as he may be one of the best athletes among the contestants. Owning an over-the-top throwing motion, Weigman's windup isn't compact but it is quick regardless, and he can generate plenty of spin from one side of the field to the other as well as down the sideline. His placement can improve on the deep ball but is near-elite on underneath passes, as Weigman has shown a propensity to connect on throws into tight windows. Being a stellar athlete, Weigman is one of the more dangerous rushing quarterbacks of the group and is extremely elusive in the pocket.

Gavin Wimsatt

Height/weight: 6-foot-2, 206 pounds

High school: Owensboro (Ky.) High

Committed to: Rutgers

The Rutgers commitment from Kentucky, Gavin Wimsatt's play has made his offseason story about much more than a somewhat unconventional recruitment. The balanced passer with solid athleticism has made his varsity mark screech over several seasons already, having taken his program to the state title game in 2020. Few class of 2022 passers have the 'wow' throw ability Wimsatt has already produced on Friday nights, even while moving to his left and throwing right, but he is just as capable working to the second level with accuracy and touch. Particularly outside the numbers, there is a confidence and flow to his game that ca help him stand out against a loaded field, even at the Elite 11. 

More from SI All-American

Class of 2022 Team Recruiting Rankings

J.T. Tuimoloau Down to Four, Decision Soon

Arch Manning Living up to Lofty Hype

Top Performers: Under Armour Future 50

Elite 11 Finals Field Set

Recruiting in a Pandemic

For more on college football recruiting, follow @SIAllAmerican on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook