KATY, Texas -- More than 80 quarterback prospects across several recruiting classes took part in Sunday's Elite 11 Regional stop in the Houston area, and the headliners heading into the event dominated the discussion coming out of it.
The sole Power 5 verbal commitments among participating passers were USC pledge Devin Brown, future LSU quarterback Walker Howard and Texas A&M verbal pledge Conner Weigman and the on-site coaching staff rewarded each with tickets to the Elite 11 Finals in Nashville this summer.
There were scores of impressive performances, on a cold, windy and sometimes rainy afternoon. SI All-American runs down the impressions and takeaways from the event.
Power 5 Trio Punches Ticket
As the talented field drove the football through the not-so-ideal conditions, it was clear the committed group was not only talented, but competitive. It was as if they were each hunting for a total of one invitation at the end of the day, and it made for an entertaining back and forth throughout the day.
SI All-American thought Brown had the best day, not only of the bunch, but of the entire event (video above). The Queen Creek (Ariz.) star, who checked in a 6'3", 189 pounds and tested among the best in attendance, looked poised, comfortable and in control. He ripped the football through the elements with consistent velocity and accuracy no matter the drill or exercise. The mechanics are relatively calculated, yet effective when his feet were set. Brown's ball was on the money while on the move and he probably had the top Pro Day script within the 'A' group of quarterbacks we spent plenty of time checking out. We were surprised when a ball of his wasn't on time and on target, because there weren't many.
Howard was right on Brown's heels all afternoon long. The Lafayette (La.) St. Thomas More standout, who helped the program to an undefeated state title run in 2020, really shined in the short to intermediate game with power and accuracy against the wind on the front-end of the event. The future Tiger has a classic, and quick, three-quarter release and the football gets to its destination with a sharp spin rate along the way. Walker also showed consistent touch on passes outside the numbers and held his own on the move against the field, too.
Weigman had a slower start than his fellow invitees, but he caught up in a hurry thereafter. Big and physically well put-together, he was among the most comfortable on the move and/or throwing across his body in the drills designed to make passers uncomfortable. Jimbo Fisher's future pupil features a mid-level release despite the big frame, but he packs plenty of power behind it even when his feet aren't quite set. There is a smoothness to Weigman's game when working off script, something typically tougher for younger players who also focus on another sport like he does (baseball). He had the No. 2 athletic testing rating among all competitors, too.
Class of 2022
Drew Dickey made a case to shake up the expected top three. The Austin (Texas) Regents School standout, who led the program to a state title as a junior, was strong in just about every setting. Only Brown's Pro Day script looked as good as Dickey's and he paced the entire top group when it came to the deep comeback ball. Maryland and Marshall are among his offers but Dickey is in no rush to make a decision. It doesn't take a lot of imagination to see more FBS offers headed his way, and soon.
The hottest rising-senior QB recruit in attendance was Tanner Murray and one could see why. Offers from several programs, including San Diego State and Marshall, have come in this month while Northwestern is showing continued interest in the Houston (Texas) Langham Creek passer. Murray throws an effortless football, consistent in velocity and catchable to all three levels. He seems tailor-made for a timing-based offense at the next level to take advantage of the range and accuracy he displays.
Cardell Williams worked with the top group and held his own among the top rising-seniors in attendance. He is a long, athletic prospect who clocked one of the fastest 40-yard dash times on the day, but his arm did the talking thereafter. It was hard to miss his strong frame, which has plenty of room for good weight, as the day wore on. The group took a mid-session water break to prepare for the camp's home stretch and Williams came out hitting targets as well as the award-winners in attendance. He snaps his head around between targets and can deliver without much notice, with accuracy, in the pocket or on the move.
Another arm that looked more and more sharp as the day progressed was Bishop Davenport of Spring (Texas) High School. After a gaudy 2020 season from a production standpoint, registering more than 4,000 yards from scrimmage and scoring 44 touchdowns (36 passing) along the way, he finished the day among the most in rhythm. Texas Southern has offered while Austin Peay and others are interested.
Class of 2023
AJ Samuel was without a doubt the biggest surprise on the day. The New Orleans (La.) Edna Karr product was on point with his throws and had one of the most impressive arms in the entire camp. At times the rising-junior looked like the best pure thrower of the football to go along with a consistent, smooth delivery. Samuel also looks to be a tremendous athlete, and made some very impressive throws on the run throughout the day, buying into his dynamic ability when asked to play outside the pocket. He might have been the best passer on the run we saw, regardless of classification. Somehow, he only carries two offers -- Northwestern State and Hawaii -- but we expect that to change very soon. Samuel amassed more than 3,000 yards and 44 total touchdowns (37 passing) as a sophomore in 2020.
Austin Novosad is a true sleeper in the 2023 group. He doesn’t necessarily have the best arm, or the best footwork to date but he was one of the most accurate players in the entire camp. Whether it was on the run, short, intermediate, or deep, Novosad throws an extremely catchable ball that is right on the money the vast majority of the time. He is a prospect to watch in the 2023 cycle out of Dripping Springs (Texas), with a solid 6'3" frame to boot.
Brady Dever is a two-sport standout to know out of Sugar Land (Texas) Fort Bend Christian Academy. Not only did he flash an above-average arm, in the pocket and on the move, but it translates to baseball as well. The rising-junior is a third baseman on college radar but has growing attention in football coming off of a breakout 2020 season in which he threw 26 touchdown passes versus four interceptions. Oklahoma State, Baylor and Ivy League programs are interested in Dever, he says.
Bert Emmanuel, Jr. had the fastest 40-yard dash, running sub 4.6 seconds, of any quarterback to test in the Elite 11 circuit this year. He is the son of the former Rice and NFL player of the same name. Jr.'s frame, featuring great length, makes one wonder if the transition to wide receiver, where his father starred, is his best bet when looking at the collegiate level. Texas Southern became Emmanuel's first scholarship offer earlier this month.
Mabrey Mettauer, who has an older brother starting along the Cal offensive line, was the only 2024 quarterback that was able to keep up with the upperclassmen. He did much more than hold his ground along the way. The 15-year-old out of The Woodlands (Texas) already stands 6'5"and weighs over 200 pounds, holding the most impressive build of any quarterback in the camp as a high school freshman. His arm strength was on par with anyone else in the camp, including top performers like Brown, and his athleticism was present during drills as well. Mettauer is about to become a rare four-year starter at the varsity level for a 6A program in Texas, and he looks every bit the part of a potential superstar recruit. Georgia Tech is his first scholarship offer and those around him see No. 2 coming quite soon.
Demarieon Young, from Moreno Valley (Calif.), was one of the receivers that really caught our eye during the day. The little-known 2022 prospect was the best route-runner in the camp, with stem and deceleration skill, and showed tremendous athleticism and hands throughout the day. He looks every bit the part of an FBS slot receiver, but looks comfortable both from the slot and on the outside. Young is also well built, seemingly deserving of much more than the lone offer from BYU that he currently holds.
Among pass catchers, Jeremy Narborne had the strongest hands among those we saw work. A big (6'2", 200 pounds) two-way talent out of California who is moving to Bishop Sycamore in Ohio in the class of 2022, he worked on the outside and snagged everything in his vicinity Sunday. Narborne had at least four one-handed grabs on the day, capping off strong routes as a power and/or possession player. Narborne says Ohio State, Texas A&M, Arizona State and Oregon are on his mind following his reclassification to 2022.
The Pro Day script is the most measured drill station at the Elite 11 and several under-the-radar prospects made an impression. Luke Longval, who made the trip from Iowa, not only won the day and among rising-senior recruits, but his score of 23 points was a high mark for the entire Elite 11 circuit to date (Houston is stop No. 3 on the tour). Mason Shorb (20 points) paced the 2023 recruits while Brad Jackson (20) won among Elite 11 Academy prospects.
Stephen Banford has a physically impressive frame, with a strong arm to match, but he showed more toughness than anything Sunday. The Louisiana native said he hurt his groin during testing, but gutted it out throughout the next several hours without a noticeable variance compared to many others on hand. We would love another look at the Archbishop Shaw talent, when healthy.
Longhorns Country's Matt Galatzan contributed to this feature
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