Three California quarterbacks – plus a fourth from Arizona – are awarded invites to this summer’s Elite 11 Finals in Oregon after what some say was the best group ever at Friday’s Elite 11 Regional Quarterback Camp at Chabot College.
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Elite 11 quarterback camps at the regional level usually end with six or seven of the top prospects put through what is known as the “pressure chamber,” a series of throws over two minutes with everyone else at the camp watching.
At Friday’s Elite 11 Regional for Northern California at Chabot College in Hayward, however, head coach Trent Dilfer and the rest of the camp’s coaches and directors there were eight put into the “pressure chamber” and four of those were sent back out for a second run-through.
“The was the best group we’ve ever had,” Dilfer told the quarterbacks before announcing the one who were receiving invites to this summer’s Elite 11 Finals in Beaverton, Oregon. “I thought you all responded well. We are truly splitting hairs here.”
Four quarterbacks had never been invited after a single regional camp before, according to Student Sports event director Brian Stumpf, but this time it happened. The four getting them were Brady White from Hart of Newhall, Travis Waller from Servite of Anaheim, Sam Darnold of San Clemente and Brian Lewerke from Pinnacle of Phoenix, Ariz.
All four of those quarterbacks were asked to make their “pressure chamber” throws for a second time.
There also were four others who took throws in the “pressure chamber” but who did not get invites to Beaverton. Those four were Kyle Kearns from Foothill of Pleasanton, Sheriron Jones from Rancho Verde of Moreno Valley, Brett Rypien from Shadle Park of Spokane (Wash.) and Ross Bowers of Bothell (Wash.).
“I’ve been working hard for this so this feels great,” said Darnold, who generally has not been as highly regarded on many recruiting lists as White and Waller but in recent weeks has picked up seven college offers. “I’ve been doing a lot of one-on-one work to get ready.”
Darnold is not the first San Clemente quarterback going to the Elite 11 Finals. In 2011, Travis Wilson, who started as a true freshman in 2012 at the University of Utah but then suffered from concussion-related injuries last season, participated in the finals at Pepperdine.
“Actually, we’re good friends,” Darnold said. “My mom and his mom are best friends.”
Waller and White have generally been in the mix as the state’s No. 3 ranked quarterback behind top two Josh Rosen (St. John Bosco) and Ricky Town (Ventura St. Bonaventure). Their efforts on Friday only solidified those rankings.
“Last year I didn’t even look like a quarterback and knew what I faced coming up here today,” said Waller, who will return to the Bay Area in the fall with his Servite teammates for a monster game against De La Salle of Concord. “I bounced back today from a bad beginning. My mom asked me earlier if I really wanted to come to this camp and I said, ‘Mom, I really want this.’”
White, who has recently committed to Arizona State, hopes to be joined in Oregon at The Opening by Hart teammate Trent Irwin, the team’s record-breaking receiver and a teammate of White’s since the duo were seventh graders.
“Hopefully, he’ll get an invite, but that hasn’t happened yet,” White said. “This means the world to me obviously. It’s a great fraternity and it’s just awesome to come out and compete.”
Before the four quarterbacks were invited on Friday, there were eight others who already had been previously invited, including Rosen and Town. As Dilfer explained to the campers, he expects several others from this year’s NorCal regional camp to still be in contention to get invited.
“I expect the bulk of the rest of the Elite 11 will come from this regional,” he told the players.