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OSU Elite 11: Good company

COLUMBUS, Ohio – It was a rare scene on Friday on the campus of Ohio State. One of the more talented Elite 11 regional events we’ve ever seen featured not only a deep group of talented quarterbacks but it was headlined by three five-star quarterbacks, the top three quarterbacks in the country.

Gunner Kiel displayed all of the ability that he has been touted to have.

Along with those five-stars, the camp featured several other highly regarded passers in the 2012 class and a few quarterbacks that are making an early case for the tops in the country for the class of 2013.

As the elite arms battled head-to-head and throw-for-throw, 247Sports was on hand to break down the competition.

The five-stars

Gunner Kiel, Columbus (Ind.) East – No. 10 in Top247, No. 1 Pro-style QB
Kiel arrived at Ohio with the expectations that accompany the nation’s top quarterback. He had a target on is back and plenty of eyes on him and he embraced those expectations and had a very strong day.

Kiel had a business-like approach to the day and really excelled in all facets of the afternoon. He showed good active feet, can get out of the pocket and throw on the move while he also shows a good comfort level in the pocket out of both the shotgun and the three, five and seven step drops.

The arm strength is certainly evident with Kiel as he displayed good spin from the beginning of the day and throughout the afternoon. He also has a quick release and gets the ball out of his hands quickly after he makes his decision.

With his performance in Columbus, Kiel cemented himself as the top quarterback in America. His approach to the afternoon showed intensity and resolve. He certainly showed all of the necessary tools and when you add the pedigree of having two older brothers playing quarterback, a former quarterback as an uncle and a father that played college football, Kiel seems to have nature on his side as well.

Jameis Winston, Bessemer (Ala.) Hueytown – No. 16 in Top247, No. 1 Dual-threat QB
There may not be a quarterback with more upside in the 2012 class than Winston and that is not to say that he hasn’t already reached a tremendous amount of his potential. Winston is an effortless athlete and that shines through during quarterback drills. He’s got a live arm, good feet, a nice frame that is going to continue to add good weight as he gets into a college strength program and training table.

Jameis Winston showed very little rust on Friday.

Friday was Winston’s first time touching a football in months with his spring baseball season just now wrapping up but “rusty” would hardly be an apt description for his play. Winston made some outstanding throws and looked the part of a big-time quarterback.

As a potential first round draft pick in the 2012 MLB draft, Winston is certainly a unique athlete and a unique quarterback. However, listening to Hueytown head coach Matt Scott discuss his intangibles and all of the things that aren’t evident on film, a picture is quickly painted of Winston as a player bound for success on the next level.

Zeke Pike, Fort Mitchell (Ky.) Dixie Heights – No. 18 in the Top247, No. 2 Pro-style QB
There’s really no way around the fact that Pike did not have one of his better days throwing the football. He was erratic and struggled delivering the ball with consistent spin.

The tools that earned Pike his five-star status were still there. He has a great quarterback frame as a big strong kid who moves remarkably well despite that size. Pike has a nice high release that allows a good launch point even for a 6-5 kid. He has a personality that conveys a real love for the game and a love for competing.

A lot of people forget that Pike has only been playing quarterback for a couple of years and is still learning the position and continuing to find a comfort level. Another prospect with NFL bloodlines with a father Mark Pike that played for the Buffalo Bills, don’t expect one subpar day to slow Pike’s progression as a quarterback.

The contenders

Chad Kelly, Buffalo (N.Y.) St. Joseph – No. 79 in the Top247, No. 2 dual-threat QB
Continuing in the theme of NFL bloodlines, the nephew of hall of famer Jim Kelly, Chad Kelly lived up to his ranking as well, particularly in the dual-threat role. Kelly is incredibly fluid getting outside of the pocket and his athleticism was obvious in that role. Outside of the pocket is where Kelly looks most comfortable as a passer as well. Kelly may have been the most effective passer at the event throwing on the run and he looks like a great fit in a spread type setting. Out of the more traditional drop back game, Kelly had some inconsistencies but on the day, he came out as one of the better performers.

Tyler Matthews, McPherson (Kan.) High School – Unranked
Though he doesn’t ‘wow’ you with his size, Matthews is big enough and he does ‘wow’ you with his ability. The TCU commit looks like he has the makings of being a good one for Gary Patterson’s program. He showed terrific touch, throws a very catchable ball and was one of the more accurate and consistent passers at the event.

Tyler Matthews had one of the best and most consistent arms in Columbus and will be a great one for Gary Patterson.

Austin Appleby, Canton (Ohio) Hoover – Unranked
Appleby has nine offers to date but he has yet to land an offer from a BCS program. That could soon change if more programs are able to evaluate him in person. Appleby is a big strong passer that brings good zip on his footballs. He lumbers a little bit and doesn’t look as comfortable on the move but in the pocket when he can stand and deliver, he was impressive on Friday.

The underclassmen

Shane Morris, Warren (Mich.) De La Salle
Regardless of class, Morris may have shown the biggest arm at the entire event on Friday. The Michigan commit got the ball where it needed to be in a hurry and he doesn’t have to really reach back to put extra velocity on the football. A lefty, Morris has a nice delivery, confidence and is much more than just a big arm. In Morris, Michigan has a fantastic foundation for its 2013 class.

Kyle Bolin, Lexington (Ky.) Lexington Catholic
The offers are starting to steadily come in for Bolin now and it’s easy to see why. Bolin has a streamlined delivery, is fundamentally sound, seems to always be on balance and has considerable zip on all of his passes. The accuracy was certainly there as well with Bolin and he looks as though he will follow in the footsteps of Zeke Pike as another nationally recruited quarterback out of Kentucky. With offers already from Illinois and Louisville, Cincinnati has since added its name to the mix.

Matt Alviti, Park Ridge (Ill.) Maine South
Another prospect that has added some early offers, Alviti had one of the quickest releases at the event. As the day went on, he got progressively better and by the end of the afternoon, Alviti was consistently putting together some of the camps better reps. He is limited with his size but he has an arm and athleticism that helps to easily overlook other deficiencies.

Quick hitters

- One of the top surprises at the event was LaMontiez Ivy out of East St. Louis. The undersized but athletic quarterback has a running back’s build but continued to impress with his throwing ability. Whether he was throwing on the run or in the pocket, Ivy just wouldn’t go away as one of the event’s top performers.

- Yet another talented quarterback out of the Bluegrass State, Patrick Towles is committed to Kentucky and took part in the event. Towles is a big gun slinger that combined size and a strong arm to show some obvious ability.

LaMontiez Ivy looks like a running back but showed a lot of ability at quarterback on Friday.

- Though the Elite 11 setting isn’t ideal for his skill set, Brian Blackburn certainly looks the part on the hoof. As a quarterback, Blackburn needs to add some polish and work on his fundamentals but in pads, he can add his athleticism and playmaking ability to the equation.

- Just walking on the field, you may not expect Monroe (Conn.) Masuk quarterback Casey Cochran to be one of the day’s best but it doesn’t take long once the drills get going to see why a school like Boston College has already extended an offer. Cochran was precise from the first drill to the last and found himself in the elite quarterback group proving that he belonged.

- Dalton Demos out of Saint Louis (Mo.) Christian Brothers College High was one of the top surprises on the day. Demos has yet to pick up an offer but proved deserving of one on Friday. Demos is tall and athletic with a very live arm was consistently making throws that caught our eye. Demos will camp at TCU and Miami this summer in hopes of landing an offer and he has also picked up interest from Missouri, Tulsa, Indiana and others.

- Indianapolis (Ind.) Pike athlete Aloyis Gray has picked up a handful of offers for his athleticism, primarily as a wide receiver. Gray took the opportunity on Friday to try to prove himself as a quarterback. Gray certainly has the size and frame for the position and his athleticism is evident but his mechanics will need to continue to improve as he attempts to stay under center on the next level.

- Keep an eye on Kyle Kempt out of Massilon (Ohio) Washington as the potential top quarterback in Ohio for the class of 2013. Kempt has size you can’t teach at 6-5 and he showed some real promise throughout the day as a passer.

- The class of 2014 was represented on Friday in Beaver Falls (Pa.) Blackhawk’s Chandler Kincade. Kincade does not look like a freshman in high school from a physical standpoint. He already possesses size and is filled out. Kincade also looked like he belonged from the production side. If Kincade continues to develop, he has a chance to be special.

- Fort Wayne (ind.) Bishop Luers signal caller James Knapke currently holds one offer from Bowling Green but after watching him on Friday, it looks as though Knapke deserves several more. He showed a complete package and really closed the day strong.

- Amid the several elite quarterbacks out of Kentucky, Georgetown (Ky.) Scott County’s Benjamin Lawler made himself a name with remembering as well. Lawler was a top performer at the BadgerSports 7on7 in Pittsburgh earlier this spring and he followed that performance up with yet another strong showing. Still waiting on his first offer, Lawler is a definite name to watch as a potential fast riser.

- Florida State was the first school to offer West Orange (N.J.) Seton Hall Prep quarterback Sean Maguire back in March. The Seminoles have been early offers for several players that have subsequently blown up on the recruiting scene and MaGuire could be another example of this. Recently Buffalo followed suit but expect several more to continue to add their names to the mix as Maguire throws in front of coaches in person.

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