ALISO VIEJO, Calif. -- The final workout of the 2008 Elite 11 on Thursday put a marked emphasis on competition. After three days of intensive throwing and drill work, the focus shifted more to seven-on-seven work and accuracy competitions. As was the case on Day 3, some of the quarterbacks continued to separate themselves form the field.
The workout began with a good old-fashioned race between Tajh Boyd, Eugene Smith, Aaron Murray and coach Tee Martin. The race was extremely close, with Boyd just edging the field at the end. Despite a late start, Martin showed he can still move with the young guys like he did in the late '90s at Tennessee.
The college counselors were really involved working with the Elite 11 QBs during the seven-on-seven games, calling the plays and helping the high schoolers look for elements of the defense to read and key on.
In the seven-on-seven, it was great to see how the quarterbacks had progressed after enduring intensive film review and chalk talk during the camp. The mark of a great quarterback is the ability to apply what he learns in the classroom and translate it into making plays on the field, and several of the Elite 11 QBs stood out in this regard.
Eugene Smith took perhaps the biggest step forward. A very quiet and reserved kid in the group socially, Smith was very impressive in chalk-talk sessions and played well on Thursday.
"Eugene Smith was the clear leader of my group," said Elite 11 assistant coach Bret Johnson. "He was making quick decisions that led to completions while also looking very smooth and quick with his drops."
Smith is mainly a shotgun quarterback at Miramar (Fla.) High School, so it was good to see him make strides every day in getting back quickly on his drops and being able to get the ball out on time with accuracy.
While Smith stood out in one group, Tajh Boyd was making play after play in Martin's group. Said Martin: "Tajh was on point today with his decisions and accuracy."
After the seven-on-seven drills, the campers were split into three groups for an elimination-style target challenge in which they threw at an intermediate target. Any miss meant the QB was eliminated.
The first contest went to USC quarterback Mark Sanchez, who edged out Richard Brehaut and Missouri quarterback Chase Daniel. Despite the win by Sanchez, Brehaut was right in the mix and continued his strong showing from Day 3 with a very impressive Day 4 overall.
Round 2 saw Brehaut again in the finals with Aaron Murray and Jordan Palmer, with Murray winning the round on the third throw.
To finish off this portion of competition, Chase Daniel battled against Garrett Gilbert and Tajh Boyd. Boyd and Daniel each hit the target on their first throw, but in the end Daniel edged out the competitive Virginian.
Heading into the final round of the EA SPORTS Accuracy Challenge, things were very tight atop the leader board: Allan Bridgford led with 46 points, followed closely by Brehaut and Bryn Renner at 41.
Brehaut needed to top his Day 3 total of 24 points to pass up Bridgford to take home the overall title. Brehaut was on fire during this event, topping his previous day's total with 27 points, which was enough to overtake Bridgford for the four-day title.
The future UCLA Bruin was crowned the 2008 EA SPORTS Golden Gun with a four-day total of 68 points, beating out three-day leader Allan Bridgford, who finished with 60 points. Bryn Renner finished third with 58 points.
The final day of the Elite 11 always ends with the college counselors getting together to issue awards in a variety of categories. Past Elite 11 MVPs include current counselors like Matt Stafford and Sanchez, and this year's honor went to Georgia commit Aaron Murray, capping off a spectacular week for the Tampa (Plant) signal-caller; Murray led his team to the Nike 7ON national title on Friday. Below are the rest of the 2008 Elite 11 college counselors awards:
1. Aaron Murray
2. Richard Brehaut
3. Allan Bridgford
Best Feet: Tajh Boyd
Most Accurate:Richard Brehaut
Best Release:Andrew Maxwell
Best Leader: Aaron Murray
Best in Chalk Talk: Garrett Gilbert
Most Likely to Play First: Richard Brehaut
Most Likely to Win a National Title: Garrett Gilbert
Most Improved: Bryn Renner
Most Athletic: Tajh Boyd
Player Who Could Play in Any College System:Richard Brehaut
Strongest Arm:Zach Mettenberger
Final point totals for the Accuracy Challenge
Brehaut: Day 1-5; Day 2-12; Day 3-24; Day 4-27; Total- 68
Bridgford: Day 1-23; Day 2-12; Day 3-11; Day 4-14; Total- 60
Renner: Day 1-6; Day 2-15; Day 3-20; Day 4-17; Total-58
Murray: Day 1-15; Day 2-3; Day 3-14; Day 4-14; Total- 46
Savage: Day 1-8; Day 2-6; Day 3-14; Day 4-17; Total- 45
McCarron: Day 1-12; Day 2-10; Day 3-14; Day 4-8; Total- 44
Mettenberger: Day 1-6; Day 2-11; Day 3-8; Day 4-19; Total- 44
Smith: Day 1-6; Day 2-9; Day 3-10; Day 4-12; Total- 37
Maxwell: Day 1-11; Day 2-6; Day 3-2; Day 4-13; Total- 32
Boyd: Day 1-8; Day 2-4; Day 3-12; Day 4-6; Total- 30
Cotton: Day 1-0; Day 2-6; Day 3-6; Day 4-8 Total- 20
Gilbert: Day 1-11; Day 2-6; Day 3- DNP; Day 4-DNP; Total- 17