The coaches and players attending the Elite 11 Nike camp at AT&T stadium in Arlington wasted no time as they began dynamic warm-ups right on schedule and then plunged straight into quarterback and wide receivers drills. While some clearly poor fashion choices by the wide receiving corps distracted reporters (apparently backwards visors are in style), the talent on-hand really shined in the early drills.

Trent Dilfer began the day with a very passionate speech about what kind of athlete they were looking for. “We’re not just looking at who makes the throws guys… we want to see you get excited! We want to see you make the other players around you better.” As Dilfer’s speech continued and I felt the familiar springy sensation of standing on the rubberized turf of a football field, Mike Roach took the words from my mouth… “This guy makes me want to play right now!”

There is no other position in football that comes under more scrutiny than quarterback. The position is not only constantly judged on technique and attention to detail but, intangibles are critiqued just as harshly. If an offensive lineman gives up zero sacks in a season with poor technique, he is still going to receive rave reviews and all kinds of praises from fans and media alike. This, however, is not the case for quarterbacks. Even Peyton Manning, who threw 55 touchdowns last season, came under fire from NFL analysts for his “wobbly passes” – cornerback and media sensation Richard Sherman, even called them “ducks”.

Elite 11 camps are no different. Completion after completion, quarterbacks at the camp were given coaching points about elbow position, release points, foot width, shoulder angles, and weight distribution. The intense scrutiny has broken down the quarterback position to a scientific process rather than a developed skill. For example, Dilfer spent nearly fifteen minutes breaking down how “lifting” the back leg when throwing will result in sailing a pass over the target.

After this intense description of proper throwing form, Dilfer touched on the mental aspects of being a quarterback, specifically focusing on the need to have a winning attitude. Coaches and teammates alike want to see confidence and leadership from their QB. The media loves tall, good looking guys who stand with their shoulders back and articulate well, but there’s only one Tom Brady. While all these “prototypical” traits seem important for quarterbacks, Dilfer explained why and how personality matters, saying, “Quarterbacks are leaders, guys…it doesn’t matter what you think, if you want to start and go to the next level it’s about more than just your stats.”

Most of the difficulty that the quarterbacks encountered during camp occurred when they were under center and had to drop back to pass. The game is changing and quarterbacks, especially in high school, are taking more and more snaps from the shotgun, making it a necessity to learn drops and the associated techniques at these camps.

There were two particular quarterbacks in attendance that seem like strong fits for Texas, Ryan Agnew and Quinten Dormady. Neither player is committed anywhere yet and both have intriguing physical talents that can and will be developed at the college of their choice. Kyler Murray is a very good prospect, but is reportedly not likely to attend Texas. Another intriguing prospect in attendance was 2016 signal caller Jacob Eason. Mike Roach did an excellent report for HornSports on Eason’s camp.

Ryan Agnew

Posted Image
photo credit: Coleman Feeley for HornSports

Standing just over 6’ tall, Agnew is a fairly typical quarterback for the celebrated South Lake Carroll spread offense. Better said, he isn’t the tallest guy out there, nor is he the strongest, fastest, or quickest, but Agnew can throw the ball.

With impressive completions throughout the day, Agnew showed an ability to throw the ‘one ball’ as well as he threw the ‘five ball’ (QBs categorize their passes numerically, one being the softest, highest pass and five being the hardest, lowest pass). Ryan’s biggest challenge came with structured three and five step drops.

Agnew is the type of quarterback that seems to naturally conduct all the traffic in live games (call the plays and routes). He’ll fit perfectly with an offense that plans on lining up and throwing the ball 35 to 40 times a game. Although that doesn’t appear to be the style of offense the Horns will feature, Agnew’s physical and mental aspects as a player still make him an interesting prospect for Shawn Watson.

Quinten Dormady

Posted Image
photo credit: Coleman Feeley for HornSports

Dormady is the new breed of quarterback in college football – big, mobile, and fluid. Although his performance on Sunday was not on par with some of the other throwers at camp, it was fun to watch.

Last season (junior year) Dormady spent the year recuperating on the sidelines from a torn rotator cuff which required surgery. Since he wasn’t evaluated when most players are, missing his entire junior season has him somewhat under the recruiting radar.

Dormady shined brightest during the drills which required some mobility (play action roll-outs, scrambles, etc.). After watching his high school highlights, that certainly isn’t surprising. What distinguished Dormady was his fluidity – when he threw from the run it looked like part of his stride not a forced motion. Although he was accurate and on time when moving, he struggled to perform a 5-step drop. He threw the ‘one ball’ very well, but as his passes needed more touch and loft, his performance suffered.

Kyler Murray

Posted Image
photo credit: Coleman Feeley for HornSports

At first glance Murray doesn’t look like a quarterback. He’s a little short with a stocky physique that looks better suited for running back or even fullback, but when Murray threw the ball all those questions were erased. Kyler was quick, on time, and accurate with every pass.

Murray took snaps from the shotgun equally as well as he did from an under center and had arguably the best five-step drop of any player in attendance. With great body control and impressive technique to match, it was certainly no surprise when he was given a chance to compete for the days MVP award.

Judging from his quotes about the Longhorns, Murray is a longshot at best for Watson and Texas. After his performance at camp though, his name is worth following throughout his recruitment.

Other notable QB’s
Kasey Ford was in attendance and is a younger football player (class of 2016) but looks like a player with great potential. Ford is already a big young man (approx. 6’3’’ 210-220lbs) and will most likely fit best in an offense like Stanford’s. A crisp release and strong arm outweighed an unsurprising lack of mobility. Ford will be the kind of quarterback that stands strong in the pocket and delivers the ball downfield.

Nathan Elliot (6’2”, 200) had a good day as well. Elliot is out of Celina where they’ve recently undergone a serious philosophy change. Celina, now primarily in the shotgun, uses Elliot much like the 49ers use Colin Kaepernick. Although he showed decent mobility, Elliot isn’t going to blow anyone away with his speed. Similarly, he throws the ball well, but isn’t an “all-pro”.
  • J.B. TexasEx likes this