Under-the-radar prospects shine
Columbus Elite 11 not loaded with star power but still plenty of talent on hand
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The EA Sports Elite 11 regional camp saw a turnout of many of the classes best late-bloomers and some sleepers as well. There was not too much star power in terms of big names considering QB Braxton Miller was not able to participate due to an injury he sustained in track this spring. However, there were many pleasant surprises that stood out Friday night and further proof that quality quarterback play isn't just relegated to the prospects receiving the most hype.
Most physically gifted
Cincinnati verbal commitment Patrick Coyne (Huber Heights, Ohio/Wayne) may not have ideal measurables in terms of height, but he sure can make all the throws and possesses a quick and powerful delivery. He is a gunslinger who is a much better athlete than you might think. That's not exposed in this type of setting, but it sure is on film. Has very good bulk and is highly competitive. Right now he only knows one speed -- 100 mph. The ball jumps off his hand. However, he is also blessed with the ability to make any throw on the field with tremendous velocity and ball speed. He has good feet and his footwork and depth from center are still developing due to him playing exclusively out of the shotgun as a junior. As a senior he is expected to be under center far more often and this will enhance his feet, timing and anticipation when reading on the move. When he learns to change up ball speeds he could really have a terrific arsenal of throws at his disposal.
Chris Polony (Whitehall, Pa./Whitehall) really impressed with excellent velocity and fluid delivery mechanics. He has good height and a thick build with plenty of room for added bulk and more definition to his frame. His release stood out immediately as he was able to get rid of the ball in a hurry and he has a nice feel for dropping from center, pulling up, planting and getting the ball out on time. Polony should see his recruitment skyrocket in the fall.
This year's Tyler Bray?
Recent Michigan State commit Connor Cook (Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio/Walsh Jesuit) is the very definition of upside. A late bloomer with a high ceiling for development, Cook is tall, has a good frame and a pretty fluid delivery. He showed good zip, but inconsistent arm strength. He shows real flashes and will make some throws that jump out and then the ball will get away from him at times too. Nevertheless, from a measurables standpoint he reminds us a bit of last year's Elite 11 selection Tyler Bray who, like Cook, flew under the radar for awhile and eventually ended up at Tennessee. His combination of size, arm, release and upside make him a very intriguing prospect who had a good day.
A Don Bosco passer?
One of the toughest, run-oriented teams in all of high school football has got themselves a guy in Gary Nova (Ramsey, N.J./Don Bosco) who can throw the ball with effortless, fluid motion and he reminds me of former Elite 11 pocket passer Andrew Maxwell in terms of delivery mechanics. He has good height on a lean, wiry build and is a late bloomer who still might grow some height-wise. Having worked from under center for the most part in his high school career, he was very well groomed in terms of footwork and timing in the short and intermediate passing game.
Raw, but talented
There is a lot of buzz about two Ohio QB prospects -- Miller and Cardale Jones (Cleveland, Ohio/Glenville). With Miller out of the line-up, Jones got an opportunity to showcase his raw, but very impressive physical tools. He looks like a taller version of another quality QB in this class Marquise Williams (Charlotte, N.C./Mallard Creek). Jones has a big arm, great size and a lot of physical tools to mold. He too must adjust to playing from under center and developing consistent footwork so that his accuracy can become more consistent. But there is no question he is capable of making all the throws.
You look familiar
Once again Kevin Sousa (Lake Nona, Fla./Lake Nona) shows up to an Elite 11 regional camp and each time he gets better. In fact, this was by far his best outing and he is starting to really iron out some kinks in his delivery and become more smooth and fluid as a passer. Athletically he is ultra impressive, but there were times on Friday when he got his feet, timing and delivery to sync up and for that moment, was the best guy in the camp. He can do some things that are very impressive and with a redshirt year, some program is going to get a nice little gem.
Nuggets from Columbus
Pocket passer Cole Stoudt (Dublin, Ohio/Dublin Coffman) had a nice day and it is clear he has worked from center. ... Shane Hartzler (Kearney, Mo./Kearney) showed flashes of what we had seen on tape from him and he looks the part on the hoof. ... Chase Haslett (St. Louis, Mo./Clayton) was as expected and despite being slightly undersized, he is a gunslinger with a quick delivery. ... Connor Hempel (Union, Ky.Larry Ryle) may be a bit unorthodox, but he is efficient and productive and showed real flashes. ... Two impressive QBs from the 2012 class were on hand and looked very sharp. Both Gunner Kiel (Columbus, Ind./Columbus) and Troy Bitterle (Detroit, Mich./Northern) showed live arms, good height and should be highly-coveted prospects for next year.
Tom Luginbill is the national director for ESPN Recruiting.