- Tom Luginbill, ESPN Staff Writer
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MAUI, Hawaii -- The Steve Clarkson Maui Super Seven football camp isn't all about skills on the field. In fact, one part of the camp that really challenged the prospects' ability and knowledge of the game was the X's and O's sessions in the classroom. Seminars about coverage concepts, front schemes and the fundamental philosophy of the game gave players an eye-opening experience regarding what they know or don't know about the game.
Just writing on a grease board in front of your peers can be daunting, no matter how many times you have done it. What may seem simple to some is complex to others. Diagramming defensive coverage, including front personnel, linebacker alignments and secondary responsibilities of where players line up pre-snap takes an understanding of schemes.
Day 2 of camp featured a long classroom session during which every Super Seven participant was required to become the teacher by diagramming coverages and then offensive plays to defeat them. These principles, even for rising juniors in the 2011 class, are not always common knowledge. Therefore, coaches both here with Steve Clarkson's group and also on the collegiate level must assume that prospects know nothing, and the instruction needs to start at an elementary level. It never hurts to rehash, reintroduce and rep the theory part of the game.
Class of 2012 prospect Jeff Lindquist impressed with his command of the room and willingness to own the board. If you are not afraid to be wrong in that setting, you can learn with confidence.
Max Wittek showed that he has not only a clear understanding of defensive responsibilities but also multiple ways of defeating them offensively. As we say in coaching, the one with the marker last always wins, but although some prospects in the Super Seven were ahead of others in their philosophical understanding, all showed leadership as well as a willingness to speak publicly and try to provide answers to tough questions about football theory.
Perhaps one of the most important points of interest in the film-room setting was providing a basic understanding of what offensive football is all about -- creating mismatches with personnel. In other words: How can we get our best guy on your worst guy by keeping it simple but looking complex? For example, running the same play 18 different ways through various formations and personnel groups can often look like 18 different plays. This provided a greater understanding of how quarterbacks can flourish if they know concepts and theory of how to attack defenses and create mismatches.
All seven prospects truly came away with a much broader understanding of how formations and personnel groupings can create a complex look. Overall, each prospect left knowing far more than he knew when he arrived, which at the end of the day is what matters most.
Here is a quick look at how each prospect fared on Day 2 and Day 3.
Max Wittek (Corona Del Mar, Calif./Mater Dei)
2011, 6-foot-3, 200 pounds | College: USC
Although Wittek missed the opening day of camp because of a schedule conflict, he wasted little time getting into the swing of things. He was very well-versed on the various drill work and being instructed, and he is ahead of the curve fundamentally, taking little time to get into a groove. Wittek also has the measurables and arm strength you want in a pocket passer and has solid footwork. His setups are quick, his balance is sound and he is capable of driving the ball downfield to intermediate and vertical areas of the field. Although Wittek shows quality footwork while dropping from center, he needs to focus on depth away from center -- as do all the prospects in attendance, who are so conditioned to playing out of the shotgun. Wittek also carries the ball a bit awkwardly in his drop and setup, but the ball comes out quick and consistent and he really throws the front side and back side skinny post as well as anyone in the Class of 2011. We feel Wittek could jump into the ESPNU 150 very soon.
Jerrard Randall (Hollywood, Fla./Chaminade-Madonna)
2011, 6-1, 190 pounds | College: Oregon
Randall's feet are so quick, and he runs so well that he looks like a wide receiver prospect. When scrambling and throwing on the move, Randall has catlike quickness out of the pocket. He is so quick that he also gets into a hurry unnecessarily. Wittek does not always get the proper depth away from center or balance that he should have when setting up because it is difficult for him to stop his momentum and throw with his feet underneath him. He must learn to be quick, but not rush. There is a difference.
Bennie Coney (Plant City, Fla./Plant City)
2012, 6-1, 194 pounds | College: Undecided
Coney may have made the biggest improvement from Day 1 to Day 3 in terms of footwork while dropping from center. He has terrific size and looks fantastic as an athlete but has been a shotgun player who improvises and makes plays on the move for the most part. He really got his first taste of fundamental and mechanical detail on this trip and has shown he quickly can apply what is being taught. Coney's feet, depth away from center and balance to drive the ball have significantly improved in a short period of time, and he now is gaining an understanding of what it will take to become a quarterback, not just an athlete playing quarterback.
Brett Hundley (Chandler, Ariz./Chandler)
2011, 6-3, 210 pounds | College: Undecided
Hundley is such a physical presence and is a load to take down on the move. He can throw on the run, across his body and in a game setting. Hundley is a physical presence who also is working on how he carries the ball -- bringing it in tight to the chest and slightly above the breastplate to create a more compact, quick delivery. The next step for Hundley is to loosen his upper body. When he drops, he can have a tense upper body when carrying the ball. Hundley is an athlete with a strong arm who fundamentally has a high ceiling for development.
Jacoby Brissett (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla./Dwyer)
2011, 6-4, 220 pounds | College: Undecided
As far as upside goes, Brissett could really become an imposing presence as a pocket passer while also being a suitable athlete thanks to his size, natural arm strength and high ceiling for fundamental development. He can spin the ball, but is inconsistent and must develop the play-to-play production out of every throw that his physical tools allow him to do. This advancement will come from reps and agility footwork drills to enhance his foot quickness, drop speed and escapability in the pocket.
Kyle Boehm (Cupertino, Calif./Archbishop Mitty)
2011, 6-3, 202 pounds | College: California
The agility drills and scramble work are areas where Boehm could really benefit by continuing to rep making throws when things break down. He has subtle pocket movement and an ability to buy second chances. If he can continue to rep and drill himself out of locking out his front leg, he will derive much more power as a passer by using his lower body.
Jeff Lindquist (Mercer Island, Wash./Mercer Island)
2012, 6-3, 220 pounds | College: Undecided
Lindquist is similar to Boehm in stature and arm strength as a pocket passer. For such a young player, you could argue Lindquist had as good a velocity on the ball as anyone in attendance except maybe Randall.
Tom Luginbill is ESPN's national director of football recruiting.