LAS VEGAS -- In what turned out to be the most talented turnout for the spring and summer series of the qualifying Elite 11 quarterback camps, some of the nation's top signal-callers braved the scorching heat on the campus of UNLV to make a final bid for an invitation to the national camp July 21-24.
Some prospects like multi-talented Richard Brehaut (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif./Los Osos) and the polished Josh Nunes (Upland, Calif.) made their second appearance at an Elite 11 event, trying to lock up a spot on the prestigious roster. Kevin Newsome (Chesapeake, Va./Western Branch) also attended for the second time, once again trying to prove he is more than just an athlete playing quarterback.
The staff at Student Sports has some very difficult decisions to make as quite a few of the nation's top players at quarterback chose not to attend either a Nike Football Training Camp or a regional Elite 11 camp in order to qualify. Blaine Dalton (Blue Springs, Mo.), Morgan Newton (Carmel, Ind.), Jordan Reed (New London, Conn.) and Tyrik Rollison (Sulphur Springs, Texas) are just a few who will not be considered.
Without a doubt this goes to Alabama commit A.J. McCarron (Mobile, Ala./St. Paul's Episcopal), who notched one of the best performances of the day. The best thing about this kid is he hasn't even come close to being what he's going to be over the next couple of years -- his upside is outstanding. He is tall and gangly but has very good throwing mechanics for a kid who has not grown into his frame yet. His delivery is tight and smooth, and he can get rid of the ball in a hurry. He reminds us of what Matt Ryan (Boston College/Atlanta Falcons) would have looked like coming out of high school.
McCarron has a good arm and can certainly make all the throws. With much needed work in the weight room, he could develop a great arm and become a very powerful, polished passer. His trip out west this past weekend may have earned him a spot on the final Elite 11 roster; his performance was up there with some of the better we have seen this spring and summer.
If Saturday was any indication of the caliber of quarterback in the 2010 class, it could be a special group. Tyler Brosius (Tuscola, N.C.) has great size, a thick build and really looked the part of a pocket passer with good arm strength and solid mechanics.
Peter Thomas (San Diego/Valhalla), a junior to be, was one of the best looking players on the hoof we saw regardless of class at any of the events. Strong and well built, Thomas looked athletic, made all the throws and threw well on the run too. The ball popped off his hand and he showed good RPMs on deeper out cuts.
Tyler Shreve (Redlands, Calif./East Valley) rounded out the impressive group of underclassman with very good mechanics and size. He's a good athlete and appeared pretty polished.
Barrett Bailey (Baton Rouge, La./University Lab) impressed for the second time with another accurate performance. Sooner or later, college recruiters will actively take notice during his senior campaign. Bailey's high school scheme does not necessarily help his bid; he is in a pretty conservative, hybrid Wing-T attack, but he is certainly worthy of playing at the FBS level.
We have seen Brehaut twice now in person and countless times on tape, and he has gotten better and improved from when we saw him in March up to now. When he unleashes it, he shows possibly the best velocity on his ball of any quarterback in this class with the exception of maybe Zach Mettenberger (Watkinsville, Ga./Oconee County). Josh Nunes isn't the athlete you are going to get with Brehaut, but he has the size, a great arm and most importantly the aptitude to work through progressions and do all the things a quarterback needs to do from the neck up.
Bryn Renner (Lorton, Va./West Springfield) confirmed in person what we loved on tape when he stepped on the field Saturday. Renner, the son of his head coach, will only be entering his second year as a varsity starter and was an all-state wide receiver as a sophomore. He is tall, a great athlete, shows a live arm and has the frame to really develop into a strong presence. North Carolina got a steal with his commitment.
Chris Garrett (Tupelo, Miss.) in our opinion is going to be a pocket passer who will be at his best when protected and getting rid of the ball on time. He has very good size, a thick build and the arm to make most college throws. He doesn't quite have the arm of Brehaut, Nunes and McCarron, but he shows quality mechanics and is a consistent performer.
Elite 11 Selection
As the regional camps have come to an end, here are some names most likely to make the final cut in my opinion:
Matt Barkley (Santa Ana, Calif./Mater Dei) and Aaron Murray (Tampa, Fla./Plant) without a doubt are in. After them, Brehaut, Nunes, McCarron, Tom Savage (Philadelphia/Cardinal O'Hara), Moses Alipate (Bloomington, Minn./Jefferson), Mettenberger, Tate Forcier (San Diego/Scripps Ranch), Tajh Boyd (Hampton, Va./Phoebus) and Eugene Smith (Miramar, Fla.) will have a great shot at landing a spot.
The Elite 11/Student Sports group has to be intrigued with ATH/QB Russell Shepard (Houston/Cypress Ridge) as a passer. I feel he's both a better passer and has played against better competition than Terrelle Pryor (Ohio State). If they're intrigued enough, he'll get invited. If they feel he'll be moved to another position in college, he'll be left out.
The Elite 11 also usually invites a 12th man to compete who started as a junior but had extenuating circumstances preventing him from attending tryout camps in the spring. This will likely be Garrett Gilbert (Austin, Texas/Lake Travis), who had shoulder surgery in January and would have made the Elite 11 had he worked out.
As you can see, some tough choices are going to have to be made because guys like Ryan Mossakowski (Frisco, Texas/Centennial), Newsome, Jacob Karam (Friendswood, Texas), Jordan Luallen (Greenwood, Ind./Center Grove), Jon Budmayr (Woodstock, Ill./Marian Central), Renner, Joe Southwick (Danville, Calif./San Ramon Valley) and Garrett all performed well at these various events nationwide.
After a few at the top, separating one guy from the next is extremely difficult, so unfortunately some very deserving prospects could find themselves without an invitation.
Tom Luginbill is the national director of recruiting for Scouts Inc. Luginbill is a college football and recruiting studio analyst for ESPNU.
ESPN television is currently in production on a special that will profile the top prospects at the Nike and Elite 11 training camps. The information used in this article was gathered as part of the television production process.