5 Top-Performing Quarterback Recruits from 2016 Atlanta Elite 11 Regional
BUFORD, Ga. — A loaded crop of quarterbacks were on hand at the 2016 Atlanta Elite 11 regional for a shot to compete for a spot in the Elite 11 finals later in the summer.
While a talented segment of passers took the field at Buford High School, less-than-favorable weather conditions made the elements far from friendly for their prospects of punching a ticket to Los Angeles in June.
Still, a handful of quarterbacks fought through the chilly temperatures and swirling winds to make a lasting impression on the Elite 11 coaching staff.
Included in that group of signal-callers were multiple underclassmen.
Elite 11 instructor and quarterbacks coach Matt James noted that the staff wanted the group to embrace the challenge of dealing with less-than-ideal weather conditions.
“Overall, I thought it was a good group. It was a windy day, and we made the top guys throw into the wind all day long, so it tested their arm,” James said. “We did a ton of stuff out of the gun and under center, getting them off platform and not being smooth in the pocket so the guys had to move.”
James and fellow Elite 11 quarterbacks coach Tony Ballard offered their insight on the day’s top performers.
Which quarterbacks did enough to stand out among their peers?
Let’s take a look at the five top-performing quarterback recruits from the 2016 Atlanta Elite 11 regional.
5. 4-Star Jake Bentley
Among the more touted 2017 passers who were present for the event, 4-star quarterback Jake Bentley was the highest-rated uncommitted signal-caller to compete in the Atlanta field.
Like a majority of the group, the 6’4”, 215-pounder struggled at times with his accuracy—especially when he was forced to throw on the run.
However, he had his share of moments where he displayed a big arm and his comfort with working inside the pocket.
Bentley, who is considering programs such as Alabama, Auburn, Miami and South Carolina, showed why he’s got the tools to develop into a solid quarterback at the next level.
Ballard’s analysis: “Big arm, great size. I love the way the ball came off his hands. He has to work on his timing and anticipation a little bit. All in all, he had a really good day. He held his own with a great group out here.”
4. 3-Star Lindell Stone
One quarterback who traveled a long way to compete for a spot in the Elite 11 finals is 3-star Lindell Stone.
The 6’2”, 205-pound Virginia native was among the handful of passers who admittedly surprised the Elite 11 staff with accuracy, poise and command for the details of playing the position.
Perhaps his performance shouldn’t have come as a huge surprise considering he holds offers from programs such as Maryland, Ole Miss, UCLA, Virginia and West Virginia, among others.
Although he didn’t earn an invite to the finals, his chances to make it could increase if he attends another regional date in the future and performs at a similar level.
James’ analysis: "With Lindell Stone, I just thought he was really smooth in the pocket and threw with great anticipation. He reads defenses really well. When he makes a decision, the ball comes out quickly, and it’s always on time. That’s what I liked about him."
3. 4-Star Jake Fromm
One player who figured to draw a significant amount of interest from Elite 11 coaches and fans in attendance was 4-star quarterback Jake Fromm.
For starters, the 6’3”, 220-pounder from Houston County High School in Warner Robins, Georgia, made waves earlier this month when he switched his commitment from Alabama to home state power Georgia.
Additionally, Fromm—who rates as the nation’s No. 6 pro-style quarterback and the No. 54 player overall—entered the event as the top-rated 2017 passer in attendance.
The potential quarterback of the future for the Bulldogs didn’t disappoint, as he performed well enough to earn a coveted invite to the Elite 11 finals in Los Angeles in June.
“It’s awesome. There’s a lot of competition and a lot of great guys who have done it before me, so it’s a great accomplishment,” Fromm said. “I thought I did alright, and I think I held my own out there. I threw it around pretty good and got the invite, and I’m just super excited.”
Fromm—who has thrown for 7,728 yards and 67 touchdowns over the last two seasons—welcomed the challenges the weather threw his way.
“That’s football. That’s the way it is. You see all those great games on TV where it’s 10 degrees outside and there’s 20-mile-an-hour winds,” Fromm explained. “That’s just football. You get to find out who the real men are. You just have to come out here and compete, and just give it your best effort.”
Ballard’s analysis: "Great size. I got a chance to see him and Chase [Brice] battle it out a little bit. They did a pretty good job today. I’ve seen a lot of film on Jake, but to see him live is phenomenal. I’m excited about what I saw in him today."
2. 5-Star Trevor Lawrence (2018)
Another player who entered the showcase with plenty of fanfare is 2018 standout Trevor Lawrence.
The 6’5”, 196-pounder from Cartersville High School (Georgia) has been tabbed as the top overall prospect in the 2018 cycle by 247Sports.
For a majority of the day, Lawrence didn’t do anything to quell the notion that he is indeed worthy of such lofty praise.
If not for misfiring on his final four attempts in the pressure chamber portion of the camp, Lawrence would be a clear-cut favorite to be the top overall passer at the event. Still, his one completion in the final competition was a beautiful touchdown strike on a deep ball.
Overall, Lawrence—who was named the MVP of the underclassmen group of passers—was the only passer who consistently showed he had the arm strength to cut through the winds, and his accuracy was on par leading up to the pressure chamber.
James’ analysis: "I thought Trevor Lawrence performed very well. He was one of the guys who could throw that ball into the wind and keep a tight spiral on it and go right through. He was really as good as advertised. We got what we expected from him."
1. 4-Star Chase Brice
The metro Atlanta area is littered with top college quarterback prospects, but none shined brighter on the home stage on Sunday than 4-star Clemson commit Chase Brice.
The 6’3”, 205-pounder was the most consistent performer on the day from the start of drills to the pressure chamber—where he completed three of his five passes, including a beautiful deep ball that resulted in a score.
One of his two incompletions in that segment was the result of a drop.
For Brice—who was awarded the MVP of the quarterback segment and clinched a berth in the Elite 11 finals—his success on Sunday was the culmination of an offseason geared toward fine-tuning his craft.
“It’s a great feeling because there was so much great competition here and a lot of great quarterbacks in this group,” Brice said. “There were a lot of top-rated guys here. It means a lot that they looked at me and gave me a chance to compete. It’s a great feeling knowing I did well here today.”
Brice credited his strong play to staying calm and focusing on the finer points of playing the quarterback position.
“I think I was just very consistent. Every rep I got, I tried to do the best I could,” Brice explained. “I just tried to focus on the details and just be accurate and make good decisions. I’m humbled by [the Elite 11 finals invite]. But at the same time, I can’t get a big head. I just want to stay grounded and continue to play my game and not try to do too much or show off, or things like that.”
Ballard’s analysis: "Unbelievable day that Chase had today. He really lit it up. He threw the ball exceptionally well all day long. He showed good footwork and had great decision-making. I really was impressed with what he did today."
Sanjay Kirpalani is a National Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes obtained firsthand and all recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.