Ewers, Klubnik on 'Being the Next Justin Fields and Trevor Lawrence'

Elite QB recruits Quinn Ewers and Cade Klubnik are building a relationship on and off the field
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Quinn Ewers and Cade Klubnik are hard to miss. 

The statement rings true for anyone identifying elite high school quarterbacks, potential star college quarterbacks, onlookers at the Texas 6A state championship in January or most recently, those at the Elite 11 quarterback competition in Dallas. 

As soon as the media was invited into the Southlake Carroll practice facility Sunday, the duo was attached at the hip and seemingly were in competition with each other for hours thereafter. Ewers, sporting a signature platinum blonde mullet on his home field, was the closest competitor to the viewing area upon arrival. Just inside was Klubnik, sporting Clemson Tiger-orange shorts among dozens of passers in their otherwise white Nike-issued Elite 11 gear.  

Each entered the event, the most talented on the national tour to date, with high expectations. Each delivered, earning invitations to the Elite 11 Finals following the four-hour workout. It was the most either had pushed out of their right arms since they met on the field for that title game in Arlington, where Klubnik's Austin Westklake squad came out on top 52-34 in what may be the first of many meetings between two of America's top prospects. 

Each anticipates the next meeting in what has become a friendly rivalry.

"It's easy when you have friends that are also out here," Ewers said after the event. "We're pretty good friends. Obviously with him being at Austin Westlake and me being here (Southlake Carroll), we play each other. And with him going to Clemson, me going to Ohio State, we're just gonna keep playing each other."

The future Buckeye and Tiger seemingly took turns leading the 'A' group of passers throughout the Elite 11 workout, with some jokes, competition and even College Football Playoff manifesting in between.

"It will be kind of fun to keep going on the journey," Klubnik said. "We were talking about it earlier how cool it's going to be being the next Justin Fields and Trevor Lawrence because they grew up close to each other.

"We had a great relationship and got along super well. It was fun talking about what it is going to be like."

Each passer rose at different points, with Ewers breaking out as a sophomore in 2019, registering 4,000 passing yards, 45 touchdowns and nine more on the ground. He would commit to Texas in the following offseason but backed off following another disappointing campaign in Austin. He'd commit to Ohio State three weeks later, with the CFP potential as one of the primary reasons for pledging to be a Buckeye. 

Klubnik's breakout campaign came in 2020, capped by the state title win over Ewers, wrapping up a year in which he totaled 50 scores (35 passing) in his first full season as the Austin Westlake starter. The weeks following the title run came with droves of scholarship offers, including Clemson in late February. About a week later, he would pick the Tigers over Florida, Penn State, North Carolina and others. 

"We can both sling the ball, we can both run the ball when we're healthy," Ewers said. "Both pretty good players in my eyes. He ran more in the state game."

Each admits they played that game at well under 100%, with Ewers recovering from core muscle surgery and Klubnik working through an AC joint issue on his throwing shoulder.

Onlookers at the Elite 11 wouldn't assume either hadn't really opened up the arm in the months since. It was one of the few chances to see several future Power 5 QBs on the same field and the duo stood at or near the top in the loaded field.

Ewers' physical gifts were undeniably on display, with Klubnik among those impressed with all he can do with the football.

"He's a great QB," he said. "Very Matthew Stafford type, can make throws at any angle. At the same time, can make throws like Patrick Mahomes, in that he can make plays with his legs and come out with crazy plays with his arm. Super special athlete. 

"I don't quite have the arm mobility he has, but we're similar in pocket presence and I use my legs a little bit more to escape the pocket."

Lawrence and Fields met at the Elite 11 Finals in 2017, with the latter edging the future national champion to cap a memorable offseason run. Of course each is expected to hear his name called very early in the NFL Draft next week, with Lawrence leading any and every mock draft one could lay eyes upon. Despite a serious medial condition, Fields should still be among the first passers taken. 

Should Ewers and Klubnik come within a shadow of the same trajectory from the prep ranks to the Big Ten and ACC, respectively, looking back on the spring of 2021 will become relative mythology like the stories around Atlanta-area natives have become. 

Can Dallas-area duo duplicate? 

Ryan Day and Dabo Swinney are among those that sure hope so. Given the CFP's history, with either Ohio State and Clemson appearing in the final four, it may not be as far from reality as two high school juniors sharing a position and bond may seem.

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