5 Top Performing Quarterback Recruits from 2016 Orlando Elite 11 Regional
ORLANDO, Fla. — The first of 14 Nike Opening Regional camps took place in Orlando on Sunday, and some 50-plus quarterbacks were among the hopefuls gunning for a spot in the Elite 11 semifinals.
Entering the camp, 4-star dual-threat quarterback Kellen Mond was one of the headliners of the segment.
The Baylor pledge didn’t disappoint, as he took home MVP honors and earned a trip to the Elite 11 semifinals in Los Angeles later this summer.
However, he wasn’t the only passer who flashed for the Elite 11 coaching staff on hand in Orlando.
Elite 11 quarterbacks coach Tony Ballard, who trains a number of quarterbacks in the Atlanta area as founder of Hustle Inc. Quarterbacks Clinic, was impressed with the field generals who competed at the event.
“These are smart kids who know where to go with the football. You can tell these guys put in work in the classroom,” Ballard told Bleacher Report. “I think if these kids work on their footwork and getting their eyes and feet to match, they will do great in the future. This is a great group of kids here.”
Mond has already earned the opportunity to eventually be one of the 12 passers who make it to the Elite 11 finals in Oregon, but which other passers left an impression on the staff and onlookers in attendance?
Let’s take a look at the five top performing quarterback recruits from the 2016 Orlando Elite 11 regional.
5. 4-Star Jake Allen
Another passer who observers were eager to see was 4-star Florida pledge Jake Allen.
As a junior, the 6’3”, 191-pounder threw for 1,691 yards and 18 touchdowns.
Allen was very sharp early on with his accuracy and ball placement in drills.
Although he was victimized by a couple of interceptions in seven-on-seven work, he had a strong showing overall and displayed the tools to become an effective field general at the next level.
"Jake Allen is very smart. He needs to work on being more consistent. He knows where to go with the football. Today, he struggled probably a little bit with the consistency on how the ball came out of his hands. I told him he needs to work on shortening his base and speeding his drops up. He’s got the package. He just needs to work on his lower body."
4. 3-Star Cade Weldon
The son of former Florida State quarterback Casey Weldon, Cade Weldon entered the camp at less than 100 percent coming off a knee injury.
However, Weldon displayed a smooth delivery and a strong arm throughout the day, earning a spot among the final five quarterbacks at the end of the competition.
The 3-star Tampa native has eight offers currently—with schools such as Kentucky, Miami and South Carolina among the programs who have already tendered him.
Assuming he gets back to full health, Weldon’s stock could rise if he continues to impress on the spring and summer camp circuit.
"I like Cade. I had heard about Cade, but one thing I like about Cade is that he’s coming off a knee injury and he’s about 70 percent, and his 70 percent put him in that Top 5 today. He was consistent with the way he throws the ball. One thing I like about him is that he’s a student of the game. When you are trying to teach him something, he’s like a sponge that absorbs what you tell him. He retains that information and knows how to apply it on the field very well."
3. 3-Star Kenny Pickett
Perhaps the player who had the longest journey to make it to Orlando was 3-star New Jersey passer Kenny Pickett.
The 6’3”, 191-pounder currently has five offers: Buffalo, Monmouth, Temple, Texas State and Toledo.
However, he wasted little time in proving that he belonged on the big stage with some of 2017's top arms.
Pickett consistently flashed throughout the day with his accuracy and getting the ball out of his hands quickly.
He showed great footwork and mechanics, and he has the looks of a prospect whose recruitment could take off in the near future.
As a junior, Pickett completed more than 64 percent of his passes while accounting for 2,132 yards of total offense and 24 total touchdowns.
"In my opinion, he had the best footwork out here. He was on point and on time with a lot of his balls. Maybe, I think he needs to speed it up a little because this amount of talent (in Florida), he’s not seeing this in New Jersey in terms of the receivers and [defensive backs]. I love how cerebral he is and how he brings that quality to the game. He’s a kid that is definitely flying under the radar."
2. 3-Star Mac Jones
In terms of consistency from beginning to end, one prospect who was solid throughout the day was 3-star quarterback and current Kentucky commit Mac Jones.
The 6’3”, 190-pounder was smooth and efficient in drills and carried his strong play over to one-on-ones and during the seven-on-seven portion of the camp.
Additionally, he was consistently praised by the Elite 11 coaching staff for his efforts in drills.
Jones—who has picked up offers from Arizona State, Boston College and Illinois this month—is another player who could land major offers in the coming months.
"He was probably the most consistent guy today. I like his compact stroke and throwing motion. I think he gets on top of the ball like he is supposed to. He needs to use his core a little more because he’s got a light frame and he’s around 6’2” or so. I think he needs to work his lower body a little more (in the weight room). I really like the way the ball came out of his hands."
1. 4-Star Kellen Mond
Originally from San Antonio, Texas, Mond entered the event with buzz because of his offseason move to Florida prep power IMG Academy.
The 6’2.5”, 201-pounder possessed a live arm and nice touch on intermediate and deep passes.
Mond was one of several IMG prospects who made the bus drive from Bradenton to Orlando, and his performance was good enough for him to earn the first invite to the Elite 11 semifinals.
“I felt pretty good. I was a little sluggish at the beginning after getting off the bus and a two-hour drive,” Mond said. “I thought I finished strong and competed very well throughout the day.”
The Baylor pledge said the move to IMG—who had six players earn invites to The Opening—helped prepare him for a camp setting loaded with premier prospects from around the nation.
“We train every day against guys like Marcus Williamson, who is one of the top corners in the country,” Mond explained. “I also have some of the best receivers in the country, so it’s almost like we are already in college. Those guys will all be going to big-time schools.”
Mond, who accounted for 2,889 yards of total offense and 33 total touchdowns as a junior, committed to the Bears last summer. But that hasn’t stopped other schools from coming after him.
“Right now, I’m 100 percent (committed) to Baylor, but I still plan on taking other visits,” Mond said. “Miami is planned. I think it's in two weeks, and IMG is taking the whole football team down there. LSU or anyone else hasn’t been planned yet.”
"His intelligence and cerebral nature to his game, that came out here in this setting. He’s a very smart kid who understands coverages and things of that nature. One thing that I kind of pushed him on and worked with him on is his footwork: speeding up his drops and getting set up quickly so he can understand what the defensive is trying to do to him. He did a great job. I was very impressed with him from start to finish. He did an excellent job. In my opinion, he was the best quarterback here, period."
Sanjay Kirpalani is a National Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes obtained firsthand and all recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.