If you want to see the future of college football, look no further than this year's Elite 11, featuring the best high school quarterbacks in the country.
The competition has been the proving ground for some of the best recruits to come along in the past few years. Andrew Luck and Jameis Winston are just two of the many stars to have honed their craft at Elite 11.
There's little doubt that this year's crop of incoming finalists includes future All-Americans and maybe a Heisman Trophy winner. You can see the field for the 2014 finals below, courtesy of the event's Twitter account:
Among the 18 taking part, the five stars below are the cream of the crop.
Ricky Town, USC
Ricky Town and Josh Rosen are the consensus top two QBs in the country. Some people will tell you Town's better; others prefer Rosen. The former ranks 27th overall in 247Sports' composite rankings and is listed as the second-best pro-style quarterback in the country.
Bleacher Report's Tyler Donohue wrote that those two would come to define the USC-UCLA rivalry over the next few years:
Instead, two of the top high school passers to emerge in recent years decided to stay close to home and sustain an increasingly familiar conversation.
Who's better? Town or Rosen?
That narrative will define a crosstown rivalry for the next half decade and may ultimately determine the outcome of future conference championships, national titles and Heisman Trophy races. Town and Rosen are eternally bunched together as quarterback prospects, and we can't wait to see what happens next.
USC is absolutely loaded at the QB position, with Cody Kessler, Max Browne and Jalen Greene. The fact that the Trojans continued pursuing Town is a testament to his ability. He's a great passer for this stage in his career, and the Elite 11 camp is a great opportunity for those few fans who've yet to watch Town throw to see what all the hype is about.
Kyler Murray, Texas A&M
Right or wrong, every dual-threat quarterback who steps on the field for Texas A&M will be compared to Johnny Manziel. Kyler Murray better get ready for the overwhelming amount of attention and expectation he'll have in College Station.
At least he has an endorsement from the legend himself:
Since he's listed as a dual-threat quarterback, Murray's accuracy and arm will likely be questioned. However, he's an extremely gifted thrower, especially on the run. Sure he's still a little raw, but that's to be expected of any incoming freshman QB.
What's so scary about Murray is that he's essentially a pro-style quarterback in a dual-threat body. He'll thrive in Kevin Sumlin's offense.
Blake Barnett, Alabama
What might Nick Saban be able to do with an athletic quarterback? That's the biggest question surrounding the Alabama offense after the Crimson Tide snagged Blake Barnett. The 4-star quarterback firmly falls into the dual-threat category and brings an athleticism that the Tide have lacked under center before.
Listed at 6'3.5" and 195 pounds on 247Sports, Barnett is a much better athlete than you'd think him to be. He's extremely adept at creating more time for himself in the pocket and throwing on the run.
AL.com's Matt Scalici pondered how Barnett might impact Alabama's offensive game plan, considering the pro-style offense has been the team's bread and butter:
As Saban has pointed out numerous times in recent years, having a quarterback who can make plays with his feet is useful in any style of offense and it's clear that bringing in a more athletic player under center is an idea that has been on Saban's mind for several years. In fact, Saban talked about the appeal of dual-threat quarterbacks during the spring.
"I think if you have a guy like that, it does create a lot of problems for the defense," Saban said in March during an interview with ESPN. "I think that as we go forward in the future, that we'd like to have that kind of quarterback as well. But we're still a pro-style type of offense. "
Saban is a master tactician, so if anybody can figure out a way to maximize Barnett's talent in a pro-style offense, it's him.
Brady White, Arizona State
Watching top recruits go outside of the college football elite is always interesting. Arizona State is far from a minnow, but the Sun Devils aren't exactly a top-10 team, either.
Todd Graham laid down a marker with the commitment of Brady White. ASU will be a threat in the Pac-12 South.
White is cut from the pocket-passer mold. He's very accurate, even on the deep throws over the top of the defense. Throws into tight coverage aren't a problem, either, as White knows exactly where to put the ball to avoid any damage.
You can see a Vine below of White working out at the IMG7v7 National Championship, via ESPN.com's Derek Tyson:
Arizona State has one 10-win season since making that Rose Bowl run in 1997. Maybe White can channel his inner Jake Plummer and help to make the Sun Devils nationally relevant again.
Jarrett Stidham, Texas Tech
You can't overstate how important the commitment of Jarrett Stidham could be for Texas Tech. This is the landmark signing that Kliff Kingsbury needed to take the Red Raiders to the next level:
Like Murray, Stidham has all the skills of a pro-style quarterback with the mobility and elusiveness of a dual-style quarterback. He's accurate, with the arm strength to make a variety of throws. If a play breaks down, the 4-star QB can also create plays with his feet.
You can't envision a better fit for Kingsbury's offense.
The Red Raiders made major strides on the field last season, and Kingsbury demonstrated his play-calling acumen. By securing Stidham, Kingsbury showed that he can become a major threat to the established powers on the recruiting trail, too.
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