BEAVERTON, Ore. —
Trent Dilfer gave college football fans 20 minutes of sheer, unadulterated pleasure on Sunday by providing educated analysis on the next great crop of quarterbacks from the high school Class of 2014.
He did it following the third day of the Elite 11 quarterbacks camp at Nike Headquarters. None of the final 18 competitors will take a college snap for 15 months, but it sure is fun to watch them work out and project their greatness.
Dilfer does way more than project. He mentors, coaches and inspires the quarterbacks as well, along with more than a dozen camp coordinators. That group includes reigning Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel (Texas A&M), along with Elite 11 alums and college quarterbacks Tajh Boyd (Clemson) and Devin Gardner (Michigan).
This is an inexact calculation for sure, but it's well thought out and the most entertaining part of the camp for us media sorts is to hear Dilfer tie it all together, which he did Sunday. Here is a blow-by-blow account: First things first
There were no cuts Sunday as originally planned. All 18 selected to the finals are still in the running and all will be graded over the next three days at The Opening, which brings together the top 150 or so players in the country.
Among The Opening's festivities are 7-on-7 games between six teams and each team will feature three quarterbacks from the Elite 11 camp (in the past it's only been one per team). The 7-on-7 games, Dilfer said, is where the top 11 will ultimately be picked, including the No. 1 slinger.
Dilfer named his top six quarterbacks thus far, saying "if you put a gun to my head, these six will make the 11."
"They've done everything at an incredibly high level," Dilfer said of the six. "Whether it's been leadership qualities, the lonely work opportunities, the playbook expertise, the passing proficiency, the competitive temperament or trainability, these guys have stood out."
The six are (in order of which he spoke):
K.J. Carta-Samuels of Bellarmine (San Jose, Calif.) -- Vanderbilt commit
"I don't know if I've trained a kid more trainable than K.J. Carta-Samuels… When we first saw him there were some real issues. But I told him, A, B and C are real issues and if you don't fix them, this will be a long process for you. Now we're looking 2 ½ months later and it's unbelievable. … On a scale of 1 to 5, he's a 6 in competitive temperament. Trainability, he'd be a 6 there again. His passing proficiency which was in the 3s, is now in the 4-plus range."Sean White of University (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)
"His accuracy isn't just accurate, it's exact. He throws an NFL type of ball. He has an – I'm stealing this from Steve Young – artistic ball. He paints a picture with his ball. He doesn't just throw a hinge, he throws a hinge to an open receiver. He doesn't throw just a skinny post, he sends a message with a skinny post. Every single counselor agrees – including (Boyd and Manziel) – it blows your mind, his passing proficiency. It's off the charts." Brad Kaaya of Chaminade (West Hills, Calif.) -- Miami commit
"He makes the extremely difficult look extremely easy. When you're looking for greatness in any walk of life you're looking for someone who makes the very difficult look easy. And he makes everything look incredibly easy. "
David Blough of Creekview (Carrollton, Texas) -- Purdue commit
"Blough is so fiercely competitive. He's so determined to be the best he can possibly be. Yet he doesn't allow the pressure of that weigh him down. He plays about as free as anyone. He's strong in the competitive temperament category. He's right there with Sean White and Kyle Allen in the passing proficiency area." Kyle Allen of Desert Mountain (Scottsdale, Ariz.) -- Texas A&M commit
"Kyle is just Mr. Consistency. It's almost working against him at this point. He does nothing bad. He does everything better than good. I'm going to challenge him to be great in The Opening." Deshaun Watson of Gainesville (Ga.) -- Clemson commit
"DeShaun started a little sloppy. I'm sensitive to him coming from the East to the West. He lit it up yesterday. He's a much better passer than he was in Atlanta. He's a sponge. For a highly touted kid with a lot of accolades for a couple of years, he embraces the journey of getting better."
Dilfer was asked much more about the remaining 12. Here are some highlights of those he spoke about. DeShone Kizer of Central Catholic (Toledo, Ohio) -- Notre Dame commit
"DeShone is off the charts in the subjective stuff. The competitive stuff, trainability. But he's struggled with some mechanics that we tried to fix in Columbus. We have the tools to fix it, but he's just not feeling it yet. It's because he's an all-sport athlete. I love that. Notre Dame is going to get a guy that will be so much better once he cleans it up. His good is awesome. Unfortunately, his bad has been bad. He just needs to be more consistent. It's an easy fix over time." Stephen Collier of Lee County (Leesburg, Ga.) -- Ohio State commit
"He was in-between today. His good is still very, very good. He has moments where you don't know if he knows how good he can be. He needs to be more decisive. There are times where he doesn't trust himself to just let it rip. When he trusts himself he's really, really good." David Cornwell of Norman North (Okla.) - Alabama commit
"He's in the Kizer and Collier category. Those three plus the six are good or better than everyone else. But he's shown inconsistency. He's so big it's hard to stay organized all the time. I think he had a breakthrough today. It should help him succeed this week." Jacob Park of Stratford (Goose Creek, S.C.) -- Georgia commit
"Jacob Park is right on the edge. He'll have four great plays and then an absolute stinker. That's not inconsistency. Inconsistency is two good, two bad. I don't know where it comes from. I have to figure out if it's focus. Is it physical? I'm going to spend a lot of time with his quarterback coordinator. He can blow up in a heartbeat. He's been so good, but you can't put the stamp on it because nine plays later he throws one in the ground or makes the wrong read. … You ask, where did that come from?" Keller Chryst of Palo Alto (Calif.) -- Stanford commit
"Keller has been Steady Eddie. He showed more life today. He's very cerebral and has a calming influence, but shows some fire and excitement. Keller is a very artistic passer. He's a graduate-level passer. He changes speeds and trajectories. He really needs to work on throwing to his left. That's something he needs to work on." Will Grier of Davidson Day (N.C.) -- Florida commit
"He's right there with Jacob Park. I love his hat. He has no flinch. And his game shows it. When the ball leaves his fingers he's on to the next play. I love that about him. He has more juice than I thought he had. He sent a message with the ball he threw a few times. He might be one of those guys who can thrive at the next level. He's passed so much and has seen so many looks. There's not going to be any shock or awe to his system when he sees Tony Brown – or whoever – covering."
Asked point blank some more pointed questions, Dilfer offered more honest responses. Who would be the best in a tough third-and-7 situation?
"This could change in 20 minutes, but right now I'd say David Blough or Kyle Allen"Is Kyle Allen the most college-ready quarterback?
"I think I might go with DeShaun (Watson) because of his ability to create. I don't forget what they are like in pads. I watch so much tape. DeShaun will thrive early even if he doesn't know what's going on because of his stature and athleticism."Why so many good quarterbacks in Northern California (four of the 18)
"I'm sensitive to this because I'm from that area, but you can talk to K.J. (Carta-Samuels), Keller (Chryst) or (Oregon commit) Morgan Mahaiak
from Marin Catholic (Kentfield, Calif.)
and I think they'll tell you I was much harder on them than anyone else. It's like they're your own kids. It's just a really good year for quarterbacks in Northern California."