Fans of blue-blood programs starving for the future of college football may find a strong sample Sunday at the Elite 11 regional competition set for the Dallas area.
The prestigious quarterback competition is set for Southlake Carroll High School, home of potentially the top quarterback recruit in the class in Quinn Ewers. The Ohio State verbal commitment, who helped the host school to the state championship game in 2020, will have nearly as many eyes on him at a regional event as Trevor Lawrence or Justin Fields at the same stage thanks to his reputation, big right arm and much more. The one-time Texas commitment will be on the same field as his state title game counterpart for the first time since the December showdown.
Cade Klubnik, committed to Clemson after leading Austin (Texas) Westlake by Ewers and Carroll for the crown, is expected to compete for a shot at the Elite 11 Finals. It will be his first throwing showcase since the season ended, and like Ewers, the first time he'll throw in the public after tough upper-body injuries dealt with deep into the Texas state playoffs. The 50-touchdown campaign will be tough to top, but a strong showing Sunday could be the next step in the storybook offseason to follow up the state title run.
[Related: Meet Cade Klubnik via his SIAA Blog]
The most recent of the headlining quarterbacks to go public with a decision is Nick Evers. The Flower Mound (Texas) star picked the Florida Gators on March 9 following a virtual visit to Gainesville. The tall, 6'4", near 200-pound passer, amassed 30 total touchdowns in 2020 through just nine games. As capable a runner as any in the loaded field, Evers should work against Ewers and Klubnik successfully in the bevy of drills designed to challenge footwork and athleticism before delivering a strike.
Speaking of making plays on the move, Friday nights in that department are where Alex Orji shines brightest. The Sachse (Texas) standout had 15 rushing touchdowns in just eight games last fall at 6'3", 225 pounds. There is velocity in his arm despite an elongated motion, mechanics that will be interesting to see live with fellow future Power 5 players working out.
Another future Power 5 passer expected to compete is Garret Rangel, semi-local at Frisco (Texas) Lone Star. The Oklahoma State commitment fits the mold of what one would expect from a Texas quarterback committed to the Cowboys. He’s accurate, throws on time, mobile enough to make passes when flushed outside the pocket, and throws a fantastic deep ball.
Colorado's quarterback of the future will also compete. Owen McCown, of the famed family of NFL passers including his father Josh, will showcase his left arm against the region's best, and he made big moves as a runner in 2020 with eight scores on the ground. The strong armed lefty is among the most comfortable passers on the run and should be able to display that on a cool day in the Dallas area.
One of the top uncommitted seniors expected is Richard Torres of San Antonio (Texas) Southside High. Armed with a big frame at 6'5", 210 pounds and offers from Utah, Nebraska, Kansas State, San Diego State and others, many eyes will be on him and fellow uncommitted senior-to-be Josh Hoover. The Rockwall (Texas) Rockwall-Heath gunslinger does much of his best work on the run, fitting today’s wide-open college offensive philosophies. Hoover will also make his drop, plant his back foot and hit a post route with a bullet. Hoover holds offers from Indiana, Memphis, Arkansas and SMU, among others. Another uncommitted arm with options is Braedyn Locke, who has North Carolina, Mississippi State, Miami, Kansas, Georgia Tech, Louisville and Wake Forest among others. He’s a mobile quarterback that feels pressure and extends plays well, and he’s also a threat to make traditional passes from the pocket
The class of 2023 conversation may begin with Louisiana native Zae Teasett, who averaged better than three total scores per game in 2020. The Baton Rouge (La.) Scotlandville standout, who is a good athlete and also plays basketball, has already picked up offers from Ole Miss, Arkansas and others. If not Teasett, fellow Baton Rouge star Rickie Collins is one to watch among rising-juniors. The Woodlawn standout can move but passes as a rhythm quarterback. Collins allowed his receivers to make plays after the catch because he would lead them with his passes. This is a quarterback to watch that holds offers from programs such as Memphis, Arkansas and Virginia Tech.
One of the biggest passers expected has offers before being 'the guy' at Flower Mound (Texas) Marcus High School after transferring from Washington. The 6'6" Cole Welliver, a rising-sophomore in the class of 2024, will follow up LSU signee Garrett Nussmeier going forward, but already has offers to date from Washington State, Arizona State, Florida Atlantic and others.
Just five passers have earned their 'golden ticket' to date, following regional events. That list includes USC commitment Devin Brown, LSU commitment Walker Howard, Texas A&M commitment Conner Weigman, Miami commitment Jacurri Brown and Maryland commitment AJ Swann. It would be a surprise if the list didn't grow by the end of the weekend and SI All-American will be on hand for the action.
Brian Smith contributed to this feature.
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