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July 25, 2012
The Farrellys: Best and worst of the Elite 11
REDONDO BEACH, Calif. -- The 2012 Elite 11 is in the books with a very deep group from top to bottom, which learned on and off the field from Trent Dilfer and company in Southern California for five days. With every big event the Farrell Awards, being re-branded as the Farrellys, are handed out to some of the best and worst. Michigan commitment Shane Morris leads the way with the Howitzer Award for biggest arm.
This award goes to the quarterback with the biggest arm and this was an easy choice. Shane Morris from Warren (Mich.) De La Salle clearly had the biggest arm at the event, throwing the ball 70-plus yards on one occasion and constantly zipping it to receivers with more velocity than anyone else.
Honorable Mention: There are a few here that could make this list including Christian Hackenberg from Fork Union (Va.) Fork Union Military, Tyrone Swoopes from Whitewright (Texas) and Asiantii Woulard from Winter Park (Fla.), all of whom showed off consistent velocity.
This award goes to the quarterback whose ball really fluttered the most all week and it was clearly Cody Thomas from Colleyville (Texas) Heritage. Whether it's the fact that he plays baseball and that has messed with his release and arm strength, or some other factor, his long ball was very wobbly and died when thrown into the wind all week.
Honorable Mention: Austin Allen from Fayetteville (Ark.) didn't throw too many ducks but his arm strength was in question as he underthrew a few players especially on long balls and even when they were open a couple had to wait on the ball. He doesn't have a weak arm, but when you compare it with some of the bigger, stronger kids it comes out as average.
This award goes to the quarterback who showed the most consistent mechanics in his delivery. Hackenberg gets the nod here, but it's close because so many quarterbacks at the event had very solid mechanics. But Hackenberg, for a bigger quarterback, has a consistent release point, gets the ball out quickly and he doesn't drop down even when others tire out.
Honorable Mention: Anthony Jennings, Marietta (Ga.) has good mechanics as does Kevin Olsen from Wayne (N.J.) Wayne Hills and Davis Webb from Prosper (Texas). Woulard also has surprisingly good mechanics as well for someone who has only played quarterback for one year and Malik Zaire from Kettering (Ohio) Archbishop Alter was consistent as well in his delivery.
Call A Mechanic
This award goes to the quarterback who needs to most tweaking of his mechanics. The easy choice here is Swoopes, who has to slow things down to be consistent and over-the-top but when he rushes, it is back to the sidearm sling.
Honorable Mention: Johnny Stanton from Rancho Santa Margarita (Calif.) Santa Margarita Catholic tends to push the ball and isn't a natural thrower at this point while Danny Etling from Terre Haute (Ind.) South Vigo has a three-quarters delivery that needs to be fixed when he gets to college. Max Browne from Sammamish (Wash.) Skyline has a release point that is a bit too high and once he lowers that his delivery will be much quicker.
This award goes to the undersized player who stood out at the event and in this case it goes to the smallest quarterback that impressed. Zaire was smaller than all the quarterbacks at the event and the difference in size to most was noticeable. However, he was also very consistent and showed he could make all the throws. He's also a hard worker and very coachable. That size issue will hurt any chances he has at the pro level, but in a spread offense it shouldn't be a huge factor.
Honorable Mention: DeVante Kincade from Dallas (Texas) Skyline is about 6-foot-1 but he has a narrow and slight frame and it's hard to see him filling out that much. But he has a good arm and a lot of confidence that helps him overcome the size issue. The big question will be -- can he be that small and have success in the SEC?
Jekyll and Hyde
This award goes to the quarterback who looked great one day and awful the next. Brice Ramsey from Kingland (Ga.) Camden County had a similar outing as he did at The Opening, where he started strong, then faded a bit, then came back with flashes and finished a bit flat.
Honorable Mention: Jared Goff from Kentfield (Calif.) Marin Catholic was much better than he was bad but he did have a day where he simply struggled and didn't look like the same quarterback. But before and after he was excellent and it appeared to be simply an off-night. Joshua Dobbs from Alpharetta (Ga.) was also up and down, but his ups were strong enough for him to just miss making our top 11 and making the coaches Elite 11.
This award speaks for itself and goes to Browne, who has shown at the last three big events that he just continues to make good decisions with consistent accuracy each and every time he takes the field. He won't force the ball, he makes the right reads and his long ball is consistently on target and perfect. His ceiling is very, very high which is why he's the top quarterback in the country.
Honorable Mention: Woulard was consistent and I think myself and others were expecting him to fade or fall apart by the end. However, it never happened. Whether it was one-on-ones, target accuracy, skelly, red zone skelly or "pressure cooker" drills, he was spot on accurate, made quick and correct decisions, and zipped the ball with confidence. After a one-pass, 60-yard touchdown drive in the "pressure cooker" he was given another chance at the end and I think some expected an interception or perhaps the first bad decision of the week. A few plays later, the ball was in the end zone.
This goes to the quarterback who fought through injury to participate and it was clearly Riley Ferguson of Matthews (N.C.) Butler. Ferguson injured his thumb during the SPARQ testing before he was even able to throw a pass and one of the trainers told me she thought it was broken. Despite such a severe injury to his throwing hand, he only missed one day and he fought through the pain to sling the ball pretty well.
Honorable Mention: Woulard missed most of the first day with a groin injury and there was some talk of him missing the rest of the week. It's a good thing he didn't because a few days later he was the MVP and the fastest-rising quarterback in the country.
Woulard wins this one. Sure he was a high three-star prospect coming in, but being a bit of an unknown from Florida he emerged from the event pushing toward the top of the dual-threat quarterback list in the country. I don't think anyone short of Woulard and his family expected him to come out of this event as the best of the 25 at least for the week.
Honorable Mention: A close second would have to be Webb although there were a few good candidates. On the first day, Webb simply looked out of place physically being tall, skinny and certainly not impressive on the hoof. But when he started throwing passes it was clear that he has skills and intangibles. Based on initial expectations from day one, Webb exceeded them.
This goes to the player that looked as if he would do whatever it takes to be successful and had the best work ethic. There's a reason why the coaches loved Stanton so much. He's a "yes sir, no sir" kid who was always out there learning, working and you can tell if the coaches asked him to run through a wall he would do it.
Honorable Mention: We weren't allowed at the Navy Seals training portion of things (thank goodness) but we can tell that Shane Cockerille from Baltimore (Md.) Gilman School embraced it. He's the kind of kid that oozes passion, hard work and toughness, and has an old school approach to being a quarterback where hard work and intensity are keys.
This award goes to the quarterback who improved the most from the beginning to the end of the camp. Luke Del Rio from Highlands Ranch (Colo.) Valor Christian finished dead last in our initial rankings after day one because he didn't seem to be zipping the ball or comfortable in his drops. But each day he improved. By the end he was pushing Etling and others to make the top 15.
Honorable Mention: Dobbs finished just one spot ahead of Del Rio on day one and consistently moved up the list after that. The same can be said for Kincade as both showed they belonged more as the days wore on.
This goes to the quarterback who started off strong but faded a bit in the end. Both Troy Williams from Harbor City (Calif.) Narbonne and Etling started off very strong but as arm throwers they seemed to fade by the end a bit. Both still finished in the top 15 because they displayed some excellent skills and still got the ball where it needed to be, but once they get their legs into their passes things will improve even more.
Honorable Mention: Austin Allen finished fairly strong on Wednesday, taking away the golden jersey as the most accurate passer for the first day after hitting the most targets but he struggled from there on out. Finishing the camp with one of only two interceptions in the "pressure cooker" drill was a rough end. He did throw a touchdown in his first "pressure cooker" rep, but even that pass was behind his target and the receiver had to wait on it despite being wide open.
This goes to the quarterback that came alive during the live portions of the event after struggling a bit in drills and other portions. Cooper Bateman from Salt Lake City (Utah) Cottonwood is starting to earn this reputation after leading his team to the title at The Opening and at the Elite 11 he made some of his best passes in difficult situations. While many quarterbacks were on target in the "pressure cooker", Bateman made two of his best passes of the entire week during the timed drill.
Honorable Mention: Browne is under a tremendous amount of pressure as the top quarterback in the country. All eyes are on him at all times and everything he does is under scrutiny. So when the "pressure cooker" drill came around and nearly all of the quarterbacks in front of him moved the ball downfield with ease, he knew a bad performance would linger. But instead of feeling the pressure, he completed his first couple of passes and then dropped a perfect dime over the deep safety for a long touchdown down the seam.
This goes to the quarterback we feel could play right away as a true freshman. You have to take into account circumstances as well and if Hackenberg sticks with Penn State he will obviously be in the hunt to start immediately or at the very least play early. Even if he flips to South Carolina, Auburn or Florida, it will be hard to keep him off the field if he continues to improve.
Honorable Mention: Browne is arguably the most patient and intelligent quarterback in this year's class and USC will need a quarterback to step up once Matt Barkley is gone. While it would be very hard to start right away in the Pac-12, Browne could at least push for some playing time. Morris also needs to be thrown into the discussion here because of his physical skills and Olsen could push as well. All of them are physically ready, it will depend on their mental acumen.
This goes to the quarterback with this highest ceiling coupled with the most room to improve. Woulard wins this one going away simply because he's only played quarterback for a year and he has already accomplished so much. For a second-year signal-caller, his mechanics, feel of the game, vision and decision making were amazing at a camp meant to test your mind more than anything else. This kid could be very special if he keeps developing.
Honorable Mention: Morris and Hackenberg have that size, arm strength and aren't as close to their full potential as Browne. I think Goff has a very high ceiling as well with his size and ability, but not quite in the same category as the rest.
Rip Van Winkle
This is the sleeper award for the player under the radar at the camp, but could surprise us in a few years. This goes to Zach Allen from Temple (Texas), who could be the future at Syracuse with his skillset. He will need time to develop but the upside is there.
Honorable Mention: With such a huge fan base, Stanton didn't really go under the radar at the camp, especially being rated as the top quarterback by the coaches for the first few days. While his mechanics are off and throwing deep passes is something he needs to work on, he could be a great fit for Nebraska based on his build, strength and work ethic. You don't have to sling the pill that often to win in Lincoln as long as you can run and are tough. Zack Greenlee from Stockton (Calif.) Lincoln also needs to be mentioned here and Fresno State could be the perfect fit for him.
This is the award given to the quarterback you better not arm tackle based on his build. How can we tell this at a T-shirt and shorts camp with zero contact? We can't really, so we're simply going based on powerful build. J.T. Barrett from Wichita Falls (Texas) Rider is built like a brick and edges out a few others here. His short, compact frame is perfect for lowering his head when needed.
Honorable Mention: Stanton obviously makes this list as well as he is muscled up and Cockerille could have won this award as he's built like a bull. Swoopes is also a very big, thick kid and will clearly be doing more running than anyone else mentioned.