5 Top-Performing Quarterback Recruits from 2014 Columbus Elite 11 Regional
The nationwide Elite 11 tour made a stop in Urban Meyer's backyard Monday evening. The prestigious quarterback competition camp attracted several premier passers to Columbus, Ohio, for a chance to prove themselves against top peers.
This event has featured notable college and NFL stars in the past, including Andrew Luck, Vince Young, Jameis Winston, Matthew Stafford and Tim Tebow. Elite 11 action occurs throughout the country over the course of months, as a select few pick up invites to the national competition this July in Oregon.
After the dust settled in Columbus, a pair of invitations were extended and a number of competitors saw their stock rise. Here's a look at five of the most impressive passers who were on hand for the Elite 11 regional.
Ben Hicks (Waco, Texas)
Ben Hicks traveled a long way from the Lone Star State to participate in the latest Elite 11 event. His journey was validated when he received an invitation to attend the national finals in July.
The 6'2", 195-pound passer exhibited poise and outstanding ability to make difficult throws while on the move. Hicks, rated No. 58 nationally among pro-style quarterbacks in 247Sports' composite rankings, continues to prove he's underrated in the 2015 quarterback market.
Overlooked in a region that perennially produces coveted recruits, the Midway High School star certainly looks like a steal for Houston. Hicks committed to the Cougars over Southern Miss in May.
He threw for 3,741 yards and 36 touchdowns in 2013, per Scout.com. Despite putting up a high volume of pass attempts, he was intercepted just six times en route to a district title.
His accuracy shined again in Columbus, as 247Sports reporter Barton Simmons noted.
"He showed the ability to really anticipate well and threw a really catchable ball," Simmons wrote. "He just didn’t miss much all day long."
James Morgan (Green Bay, Wisconsin)
We've openly wondered for months why Wisconsin quarterback James Morgan hasn't commanded more scholarship offers during the course of his recruitment. Perhaps his performance at Ohio State will change that.
The 6'4", 205-pound Ashwaubenon High School playmaker consistently put the ball on the money in situations that called for big-time downfield connections. He flashes a strong arm on game film and confirmed it in Columbus.
"He made the most consistent elite throws all evening," 247Sports reporter Barton Simmons wrote.
Morgan, rated No. 14 nationally among pro-style passers in 247Sports' composite rankings, torched opponents in 2013, passing for 2,500 yards and 26 touchdowns. He's not a true rushing threat but moves around well in the pocket for a player of his stature and picks up steam in the open field.
Still waiting for his first offer from a power-five conference program, Morgan told Bud Elliott of SB Nation that visits to Virginia Tech and Minnesota are in the works.
His current collegiate options include Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan and Bowling Green.
Austin King (Alpharetta, Georgia)
Austin King was another non-Midwest prospect who warranted attention at Ohio State. He completed all five of his "pressure chamber" passes and displayed plenty of zip on a variety of throws.
The 6'3", 193-pound Peach State product impressed with nifty footwork and didn't waste motion in his delivery. It was another polished effort at an Elite 11 event, as he also impressed at the Atlanta competition earlier this year.
King, who passed for 2,400 yards and 27 touchdowns in 2013, led Alpharetta High School to nine wins as a junior. Rated No. 32 nationally among pro-style passers in 247Sports' composite rankings, his recruitment process picked up last month.
Central Florida, South Florida and West Virginia each extended scholarships in May. His offer list also features Harvard, Toledo and Troy.
Ryan Brand (Detroit, Michigan)
Ryan Brand doesn't necessarily look the part of a Division I college quarterback, but we're beginning to get used to the "prototype" taking on a different image these days. The 5'10", 182-pound Motor City athlete made plenty of people reassess their stance on his abilities in Columbus.
Despite holding just one offer (Air Force), Brand fits the mold of a crafty passer who displays consistent accuracy and dangerous mobility. He's the kind of quarterback we've seen more of each year at the college level—and even some instances in the NFL.
Brand, rated No. 47 nationally among dual-threat athletes in 247Sports' composite rankings, led University off Detroit Jesuit High School to its first district title in 12 years last fall. He's proven himself as a winner and now could emerge as more sought-after prospect after setting the tone early and often against top Elite 11 opponents.
"If we’re talking purely about performance and not factoring in how he projects to the future due to size, Brand was probably the best thrower in attendance," 247Sports reporter Barton Simmons wrote.
That's lofty praise for a player who may be on the verge of adding multiple offers.
Alex Malzone (Bloomfield Hills, Michigan)
Alex Malzone's national profile has steadily grown during the past month. The 6'1.5", 200-pound Brother Rice High School standout held just one offer from a power-five conference team (Wake Forest) when spring started but picked up options from Pittsburgh and Michigan in May.
He committed to the Wolverines on May 12 and had an early opportunity to represent his new team on the campus of a major rival. Malzone, rated No. 11 nationally among pro-style passers in 247Sports' composite rankings, kept the momentum rolling with a well-rounded effort that turned heads in Columbus and earned an invite to the Elite 11 finals.
However, his performance probably isn't what garnered the most attention at Ohio State. Malzone, who threw for 2,794 yards and 25 touchdowns as a junior, continued to make Michigan fans happy by tweeting a little trash talk toward the Buckeyes:
Won't be the last time I'm in a good mood driving home from Columbus #GoBlue— Alex Malzone (@AlexMalzone) June 3, 2014
That's what we call style points.