Elite 11 2014: Power Ranking This Year's Finalists

Tyler Donohue@@TDsTakeNational Recruiting AnalystJune 30, 2014

Elite 11 2014: Power Ranking This Year's Finalists

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    College quarterback stars of the future will converge in Beaverton, Oregon, this July as another edition of Elite 11 competition comes to a close. A group of 19 finalists earned the chance to emerge as the best of the bunch in a national showcase.

    We tossed out the star ratings and focused on game film to rank each contender.

    From celebrated commits to late-rising recruits still searching for offers, here's a look at who is aiming for a shot at stardom in an event that once featured Andrew Luck, Jameis Winston, Tim Tebow and Matthew Stafford.

19. De'Andre Johnson, 3-Star (Jacksonville, Florida)

1 of 19

    School: First Coast High School

    Size: 6'0", 175 lbs

    Recruitment Status

    De'Andre Johnson was among the first players off the board in this cycle. He committed to Florida State prior to the start of his sophomore season. Other offers included Clemson, Miami and Georgia.


    How He Earned Spot in Finals

    He punched his ticket to Beaverton at the Orlando regional. Johnson, no stranger to the national spotlight, is coming off a strong junior season.

    His 2013 efforts included 3,007 passing yards and 40 total touchdowns. He does damage as a rusher when plays break down.


    What to Watch For at Elite 11

    Johnson has dominated at the high school level, but he isn't refined enough to make an immediate impact at quarterback in college. The first place to start is footwork, because he gets caught fading back on his heels.

    That inhibits his ability to add velocity to attempts, so he tends to put too much air under the ball at times. He has plenty of range as a passer but is still an extremely raw product at this point.

    An impressive performance at the Elite 11 final would show he's on the right track toward becoming a viable option behind center in college.

18. Ryan Brand, 3-Star (Detroit, Michigan)

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    School: University of Detroit Jesuit High School

    Size: 5'10", 192 lbs

    Recruitment Status

    Ryan Brand has visited Big Ten campuses at Michigan State, Northwestern and Penn State but remains in search of a Power 5 offer. Air Force and Indiana State have extended offers, but he certainly hopes for more.


    How He Earned Spot in Finals

    Brand battled for a shot at Elite 11 glory by attending events in Georgia and Ohio. His stature and recruiting prowess may not have warranted attention initially, but he forced people to pay attention.

    "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," wrote Barton Simmons of 247Sports after Brand's effort in Columbus.

    He led his high school squad to its first district title in 12 years as a junior, passing for 2,000 yards.


    What to Watch For at Elite 11

    If you're looking for an underdog who no one expected to be in Beaverton, Brand is your guy. He's overcome his size and slow-moving recruitment to give himself a chance to turn heads again.

    The ball comes off his hand as a tight spiral, though the delivery isn't as smooth as it can be at the release point. This is a big stage for Brand to prove he belongs on more collegiate big boards.

17. Sam Darnold, 3-Star (San Clemente, California)

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    School: San Clemente High School

    Size: 6'4", 208 lbs

    Recruitment Status

    Sam Darnold has seen interest mount in recent months. Tennessee, Duke, Oregon and USC are among the offers that have arrived since May. Northwestern and Utah also present possible landing spots.


    How He Earned Spot in Finals

    Darnold's stunning ascension among 2015 prospects included his invite at the Oakland regional. His recruitment suffered earlier because of a broken foot, which cost him most of the 2013 season.

    He did some of his best work as a sophomore, and over his career, he has completed 65 percent of his passes for 748 yards, seven touchdowns and no interceptions, per MaxPreps.


    What to Watch For at Elite 11

    There isn't a ton of game tape on Darnold due to his injury, so the Elite 11 process has given him an opportunity to state his case as a legitimate top-level recruit. He appears to still be rather raw as a passer, but his physical abilities, including a powerful rushing style, are a known commodity.

    Most of his high school completions on film are quick hits and short routes that don't require much touch. If he rises to the top in Beaverton, it will be largely credited to improved range and distance on pass attempts.

16. Alex Malzone, 4-Star (Bloomfield Hills, Michigan)

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    School: Brother Rice High School

    Size: 6'1.5", 200 lbs

    Recruitment Status

    After whiffing on early quarterback targets, Michigan found a match in Alex Malzone. He committed in May over offers from Pittsburgh, Bowling Green and Wake Forest.


    How He Earned Spot in Finals

    Malzone claimed a spot on future enemy turf—Columbus, Ohio. He punched his ticket for the Elite 11 final just weeks after pledging to the Wolverines.

    Malzone completed 68 percent of his passes last season. He finished with 2,794 yards and 25 touchdowns.


    What to Watch For at Elite 11

    He brings a lot of moxie to the field and appears ready to take another step in his rise up recruiting rankings. Though he lacks superior arm strength, Malzone understands how to play the position and puts the ball where it needs to be with consistency.

    There will be several passers in Beaverton who were expected to reach this point for more than a year. Malzone isn't one of them, which should motivate him even further.

15. Torrance Gibson, 5-Star (Fort Lauderdale, Florida)

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    School: American Heritage High School

    Size: 6'4", 200 lbs

    Recruitment Status

    Torrance Gibson gained plenty of interest following a breakout junior campaign. He trimmed his list to seven favorites this spring, with Tennessee sitting atop.

    Auburn is viewed as the Volunteers' main competition but isn't the only program that could keep him away from Knoxville next year. Ohio State, LSU, Oklahoma, UCF and Miami also made the cut.


    How He Earned Spot in Finals

    Gibson was a late addition to the field. He is expected to line up at wide receiver during The Opening, which immediately follows Elite 11 finals in Oregon, but will compete with passers beforehand.

    His success came on the run and through the air last fall, as Gibson gained 1,063 yards on the ground and threw for 1,789 yards. He totaled 29 touchdowns during a state title run in 2013.


    What to Watch For at Elite 11

    Gibson, rated the No. 1 "athlete" in 247Sports' composite rankings, has a chance to state his case as a quarterback prospect. He's a tremendous runner in the open field, leading many to believe his future lies at receiver.

    However, Gibson is a leader who views himself as a playmaker behind center at the next level and intends to start his collegiate career at the position. Under the tutelage of several well-respected quarterback coaches, expect him to pick up significant points for improvements as a passer.

14. Brandon Wimbush, 4-Star (Jersey City, New Jersey)

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    School: St. Peter's Prep

    Size: 6'2", 205 lbs

    Recruitment Status

    Brandon Wimbush kept the good times rolling for James Franklin by committing to Penn State in May. He selected the Nittany Lions from a list of contenders that included Ohio State, Miami, Virginia Tech and Alabama. Stanford extended an offer in June, giving him another option to consider before national signing day.


    How He Earned Spot in Finals

    Wimbush threw his hat into the ring at the Washington D.C. regional. He helped lead St. Peter's Prep to a state title game last season, passing for 1,500 yards and 15 touchdowns.

    His skill set also burned opponents on the ground, as Wimbush flashed versatility with scintillating sprints against overstretched defenses.


    What to Watch For at Elite 11

    While watching Wimbush work through drills at a Nike camp in New Jersey, it was immediately apparent that he has the arm strength to succeed in college. He's a disciplined passer who clearly takes pride in his craft at a young age.

    Wimbush is more advanced from a technical standpoint than most attendees, but his accuracy will be tested against the best in Beaverton. Though he is still a work in progress, the event provides a possible stepping stone toward collegiate stardom.

13. Travis Waller, 4-Star (Anaheim, California)

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    School: Servite High School

    Size: 6'3", 190 lbs

    Recruitment Status

     received late offers from Oregon, Alabama and Notre Dame. He announced his commitment to the Ducks on July 1.


    How He Earned Spot in Finals

    He locked down his spot at the Oakland regional, where he overcame an early rough patch to impress Elite 11 coaches.

    "Waller was a bit erratic to start but as the camp went on hit his stride," wrote Justin Hopkins of 247Sports.

    His junior campaign included success on the ground and through the air. He passed for 1,669 yards and 12 touchdowns while using his abilities as a rusher to rack up another 1,293 yards and 13 scores.


    What to Watch For at Elite 11

    Waller will be a prized new commitment for one team when action begins, which bodes well for his confidence and mindset. With a decision behind him, he'll be able to focus on fundamentals that occasionally let him down.

    He must gain consistency with his throwing motion, particularly when it comes to elbow level. He doesn't pack a ton of heat on his passes, but there's a nice touch on the football, and he fits it in spaces where only his receiver can snag it.

12. Ben Hicks, 3-Star (Waco, Texas)

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    School: Midway High School

    Size: 6'2", 195 lbs

    Recruitment Status

    Ben Hicks landed his first offers this spring, as Houston and Southern Miss extended scholarships. He committed to the Cougars in May and will aim to be the latest passer to pile up yards in bunches at Houston. Other squads, including in-state Baylor, could take a closer look at Hicks as his recruitment continues.


    How He Earned Spot in Finals

    Hicks outworked some more marquee members of this quarterback class at the Dallas regional. He threw for 3,741 yards and 36 touchdowns in 2013, per Scout.com.

    Despite operating in a high-octane aerial attack, Hicks was intercepted just six times during a nine-win campaign.


    What to Watch For at Elite 11

    Hicks has shown he's capable of completing every kind of pass, displaying zip on 40-yard strikes. His vision allows him to anticipate where he needs to move as defenders approach.

    He sustains plays with excellent movement in the backfield, though he's not much of a rushing threat. Hicks has a chance to be the surprise of these finals and make his case as a top Texas playmaker.

11. Deondre Francois, 4-Star (Orlando, Florida)

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    School: IMG Academy

    Size: 6'1", 195 lbs

    Recruitment Status

    It's down to the wire for Deondre Francois, who plans to announce a decision in late July. He trimmed his list to Florida State, Auburn and Oregon. Final visits are scheduled with each finalist.

    "These are very important, very crucial," Francois told Josh Newberg of 247Sports (subscription required). "These remaining visits are the bread and butter of my (recruitment) right now."


    How He Earned Spot in Finals

    Francois, who played at Olympia High School before transferring to IMG for his senior season, was tabbed at the Orlando regional. His head coach is former Florida State star Chris Weinke, who won the Heisman Trophy.

    He threw for 3,200 yards and 28 touchdowns during the past two seasons, per the Orlando Sentinel.


    What to Watch For at Elite 11

    Though Francois is typically listed as a dual-threat quarterback, he is at his best in the pocket. His raw arm strength rivals any quarterback in the country, though he's still learning how to control that power without sacrificing precision.

    Francois has the makings of a legitimate gunslinger who is a lot of fun to watch. He may be the wild card in this bunch.

10. Brian Lewerke, 3-Star (Phoenix, Arizona)

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    School: Pinnacle High School

    Size: 6'3", 180 lbs

    Recruitment Status

    Brian Lewerke committed to Michigan State in April, days after he landed offers from Oregon State and Maryland. His list of options also includes Louisville, Ole Miss, West Virginia and Florida.


    How He Earned Spot in Finals

    Lewerke took his game to another level during the Oakland regional, where he recovered from an unimpressive start to put on a sterling performance.

    "Lewerke by his own admission, struggled to start the day but as the event wore on he closed out strong," wrote Justin Hopkins of 247Sports. "His second run through the chamber was flawless, hitting all five marks."

    He threw for 2,780 yards and 33 touchdowns as a junior, rushing for three additional scores. However, he completed just 52 percent of his passes.


    What to Watch For at Elite 11

    This is a quarterback who continues to show concrete signs of improvement, which is paramount for a prospect at the position. He tightened up his mechanics and incorporated his lower body into throws more often as the 2013 season progressed.

    Lewerke is streaky when it comes to accuracy and won't have a chance in Beaverton if he's "off." As he gains fundamentals through repetition, there's a lot of room for growth in his game.

9. Sheriron Jones, 4-Star (Moreno Valley, California)

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    School: Rancho Verde High School

    Size: 6'2.5", 192 lbs

    Recruitment Status

    Sheriron Jones spent the first week of June surveying his options with trips to Tennessee and Florida. He decided to become a Gator during the visit in Gainesville, leaving the Volunteers to look elsewhere. Arizona, Nebraska, Maryland and Arizona State also gave offers.


    How He Earned Spot in Finals

    He vaulted into the finals with a workmanlike effort in Oakland. Jones, an impressive rusher, proved he's a balanced dual-threat prospect.

    "(Jones) was solid all day and flashed some great zip on his ball," wrote Justin Hopkins of 247Sports. "Jones has the ability to use his legs, but has a polished arm along with his athleticism."

    He guided Rancho Verde to 11 wins in 2013, showing off his skills in the open field as a runner. Jones also appears comfortable in the pocket. He completed 12 of 15 passes for 252 yards and four touchdowns in a state sectional semifinal matchup.


    What to Watch For at Elite 11

    His raw athleticism is exciting, and he has all the physical tools to develop into a dangerous offensive weapon. Jones doesn't have any trouble hitting intended targets on throws of great distance.

    Coaches are going to have a field day with him in college, starting with his foot placement. He tends to forget his footwork and will become a much more efficient passer once the entire body is part of the process on every play.

    Vast improvements lie ahead, but he's already good enough to contend in Beaverton.

8. Ross Bowers, 3-Star (Bothell, Washington)

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    School: Bothell High School

    Size: 6'2", 185 lbs

    Recruitment Status

    Ross Bowers received a pair of Pac-12 offers in June, as Colorado and Cal extended scholarships. Colorado State and Wake Forest are among his other options. Don't be surprised if he sustains recruiting momentum through the summer and continues to add offers.


    How He Earned Spot in Finals

    Though he arrived at the Oakland regional as a relative sleeper prospect, Bowers shined among his more more lauded contemporaries.

    "Bowers was a bit of an unknown prior to the event but he worked his way up the ladder," wrote Justin Hopkins of 247Sports.

    Bowers led Bothell to the state quarterfinals, orchestrating an offense that averaged 37 points per game.


    What to Watch For at Elite 11

    The spotlight is beginning to grow for Bowers, and a big performance in Beaverton may result in a flurry of offers. Arguably the most underrated quarterback in this class, he turned heads by earning an invitation to the Elite 11 finals and now has an opportunity to gain national notoriety.

    Bowers displays excellent instincts, especially when it comes to buying time as the pocket collapses. He looks in command of his offensive attack at Bothell and does a great job of going through his progressions instead of locking in on a top receiving target.

    He doesn't have a cannon in terms of velocity but puts tremendous touch on deep passes.

7. Jarrett Stidham, 4-Star (Stephenville, Texas)

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    School: Stephenville High School

    Size: 6'3.5", 190 lbs

    Recruitment Status

    Texas Tech beat out an expansive list of programs, including Tennessee, Texas, Miami and Michigan, for Jarrett Stidham's pledge in March. Things became a little more interesting in June when Notre Dame extended an offer.


    How He Earned Spot in Finals

    This time last year, Stidham was preparing to transition from wide receiver to quarterback. He quickly proved himself as a passer and picked up an invitation at the Dallas regional.

    Stidham, who caught 50 passes for 819 yards and 11 touchdowns as a sophomore, showed off his dual-threat abilities in 2013. He threw for 2,613 yards, 30 touchdowns and just five interceptions, while gaining an additional 821 yards and 14 scores on the ground.


    What to Watch For at Elite 11

    Stidham is a versatile prospect who could excel in a variety of offensive attacks. By the end of his first season as a starter, it was evident that fundamentals are in place and executed on most snaps.

    He keeps his shoulders square when chased outside of the pocket, improvising until it's time to pull the trigger. Stidham exhibits strong lower-body work during his progression and continues to improve his release point, which is sometimes too low.

6. Blake Barnett, 4-Star (Corona, California)

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    School: Santiago High School

    Size: 6'3.5", 195 lbs

    Recruitment Status

    Blake Barnett altered the recruiting landscape in June when he decommitted from Notre Dame. Just two weeks after ending his seven-month verbal pledge, Barnett joined Alabama's top-ranked class.


    How He Earned Spot in Finals

    California quarterbacks kept Elite 11 coaches busy throughout this cycle, and Barnett picked up his ticket to Beaverton after the Los Angeles regional. He's a unique talent who can do damage with his arm and legs.

    Barnett threw for 2,322 yards and 22 touchdowns in 2013. He also rushed for 695 yards and 13 scores in 10 games.


    What to Watch For at Elite 11

    Barnett didn't become a starter until last season, but he quickly burst onto the scene as a national recruit. He's an outstanding athlete who can fire the football with precision while rolling out.

    His footwork remained a work in progress in 2013, but he could provide a glimpse of what's coming this fall with a polished performance in Beaverton. Many thought he'd end up in the state as an Oregon Duck upon his decommitment from the Fighting Irish.

5. Drew Lock, 4-Star (Lee's Summit, Missouri)

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    School: Lee's Summit Senior High School

    Size: 6'5", 195 lbs

    Recruitment Status

    Drew Lock, the son of a former Missouri offensive lineman, elected to become a Tiger, too. He committed to Missouri over Ohio State, Kentucky, Texas and Michigan State, among others.


    How He Earned Spot in Finals

    Lock secured his spot after a commanding effort at the Chicago regional.

    "Lock dazzled with his strong arm, ability to throw on the run, pocket presence and accuracy," wrote Steve Wiltfong of 247Sports. "From start to finish, he outperformed the other signal-callers in attendance."

    Lock launched 35 touchdown passes in 2013, tallying 3,062 yards through the air. He threw just seven interceptions, leading his team to a 10-win season.


    What to Watch For at Elite 11

    Lock stands tall in the pocket, though his formidable frame means a lot more in game action than Elite 11 challenges. He puts plenty of heat on his passes, quickly squeezing the football into tight spots.

    There are times when he relies too much on his arm strength at the expense of his lower body. This event will test Lock's development, and a strong showing could put him in consideration for a fifth star.

4. Brady White, 4-Star (Santa Clarita, California)

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    School: Hart High School

    Size: 6'2", 190 lbs

    Recruitment Status

    Brady White is a hot commodity in Pac-12 territory. After considering offers from Oregon and Cal, he committed to Arizona State in early May. Penn State also pursued him.


    How He Earned Spot in Finals

    White was one of four quarterbacks selected from an impressive crop of prospects at the Oakland regional. He enjoyed a tremendous leap in production last fall, establishing career highs with 4,535 passing yards and 50 total touchdowns.

    He took over the starting job as a sophomore, throwing for 2,575 yards and 25 scores.


    What to Watch For at Elite 11

    White gets the ball out in a hurry, delivering darts. He moves well laterally, keeping his eyes downfield as the play progresses.

    His smooth approach looks practically effortless, which shows that White is extremely comfortable with the throwing mechanics.

    “The ball comes off his hand as naturally as any player here and now we've seen him work on his mechanics of getting his feet underneath him and having a more efficient stroke," Elite 11 coach Jordan Palmer told StudentSports.com.

3. Kyler Murray, 5-Star (Allen, Texas)

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    School: Allen High School

    Size: 5'11", 180 lbs

    Recruitment Status

    Kyler Murray committed to Texas A&M in May after considering Oregon. He follows in the footsteps of his father, Kevin Murray, who was a star Aggies quarterback in the 1980s.


    How He Earned Spot in Finals

    He earned an invitation after regional competition in DeSoto, Texas. The honor shouldn't come as a shock considering his track record as a winner and playmaker.

    Murray is 27-0 as a starter in high school, leading Allen to two state titles in the process. His production has been prolific during the past two years, as he's thrown for 5,673 yards and 63 touchdowns while adding 2,644 yards and 44 scores on the ground.

    "He is so dynamic…power is a relative thing," quarterback coach George Whitfield Jr. told Jeff Tarpley of 247Sports (subscription required). "You don’t have to be 6'3", 230 pounds, to be powerful, especially seeing Johnny (Manziel) over the last couple of years."


    What to Watch For at Elite 11

    There doesn't seem to be a stage too big for Murray, who played like a savvy veteran as a sophomore throughout the journey to his first championship. He's the complete package as a dual-threat quarterback and beats teams in a variety of ways depending on what defenses show him.

    Murray is extremely accurate in the intermediate passing range, but his ability to put deep passes on the money will be tested in the finals. Solid mechanics are already in place throughout his throwing motion, and a tremendous competitive streak will keep him near the top of the competition.

2. Ricky Town, 5-Star (Ventura, California)

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    School: St. Bonaventure

    Size: 6'4", 205 lbs

    Recruitment Status

    Ricky Town committed to Alabama last summer but shook things up when he flipped to USC in late January. He provides a building block for first-year Trojans coach Steve Sarkisian and spurned offers from the likes of UCLA, Miami, Georgia and Texas.


    How He Earned Spot in Finals

    Town continued to display impressive poise and precision as a junior. He completed almost 70 percent of his pass attempts, tallying 2,300 yards and 25 touchdowns.

    Town, who tossed 23 touchdowns in 2012, moves comfortably in and out of the pocket. His invitation arrived at a regional camp in Oregon, where he'll return to chase down the top spot.


    What to Watch For at Elite 11

    While Town has made strides each year, he still puts too much air under the ball on occasion, resulting in overthrows and turnover chances. He remains accurate when forced to scramble, prolonging plays and torching foes.

    Town has tremendous mechanics and ideal physical makeup, and he will be tough to beat if he brings his best effort.

1. Josh Rosen, 5-Star (Bellflower, California)

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    School: St. John Bosco High School

    Size: 6'4", 205 lbs

    Recruitment Status

    Michigan made a late push in the recruiting process and even landed a campus visit from the coveted quarterback. However, Josh Rosen pledged to UCLA just days later, giving the Bruins a local star who could start immediately. 


    How He Earned Spot in Finals

    Rosen, who received an invitation at the Los Angeles regional, claimed a state championship last fall and lands atop a list filled with California quarterbacks. He has immediate-impact potential at the next level, where his refined skill set will only grow more polished.

    He enjoyed a statistical spike in 2013 following a sophomore season that featured 2,087 yards and 22 touchdowns passes. Rosen ramped things up as a junior, throwing for 3,200 yards and 39 scores.

    "I don't know what Troy Aikman looked like in high school, but I bet this is what he looked like," Pac-12 Network analyst and Elite 11 coach Yogi Roth told Bruce Feldman of FOX Sports. "The ball rips out of his hand. He's got a good frame, and on tape he's athletic."


    What to Watch For at Elite 11

    Rosen is a technician and consistently delivers pinpoint passes with plenty of zip. Clearly one of the top quarterback prospects of this decade, his deep ball sets him apart from the pack.

    If Rosen flashes the mix of arm strength and accuracy that he uses to hit receivers in stride downfield, then he's the favorite in Beaverton.


    Recruit ratings and information courtesy of 247Sports unless otherwise noted.