June 26, 2005

Three become Elite

LAS VEGAS - Around 60 of the nation's top quarterbacks tried their luck at the final EA Sports Elite 11 Regional Workout on Saturday at UNLV in Las Vegas. Three lucky signal-callers hit the jackpot with invitations to the prestigious quarterback camp held in late July with impressive performances that made them easy winners.

With a group of elite quarterbacks, including Rivals100 selections Zach Frazer, Josh Freeman, Demetrius Jones, Jeremy Ricker and several other highly regarded quarterbacks, Student Sports and EA Sports decided after the workout to name Matthew Stafford, Jake Locker and Kevin Riley to the Elite 11.

Neil Caudle of Birmingham (Ala.) Spain Park, Pat Devlin of Downingtown (Pa.) East, Cody Hawkins of Boise (Idaho) Bishop Kelly, Mitch Mustain of Springdale, Ark., Tim Tebow of Jacksonville (Fla.) Nease and Isiah Williams of Chicago Vocational have already been invited to the camp that will be held July 25-28 in Southern California.

Stafford and Locker were already household names heading into the camp. Stafford, the talented five-star prospect from Dallas Highland Park, had already committed to the University of Georgia and was ranked overall as the No. 2 quarterback in the nation. Locker of Ferndale, Wash., has been widely considered the top quarterback in the West and is ranked as the nation's No. 99 player by Rivals.com.

So if you're asking yourself who is Kevin Riley, you're probably not alone.

Riley, ranked by Rivals.com as the No. 2 player in Oregon, has been on a great run lately that started with a lights out performance at the Palo Alto NIKE Training Camp and then continued on Saturday in Las Vegas.

"I'm just a kid from Oregon that's a pretty good football player," Riley, who measured in at the NIKE Camp at 6-foot-1 and 192 pounds, said.

"Oregon's produced some pretty good quarterbacks over the years. We had Erik Ainge come out a few years back, and then there was Kellen Clemens and Derek Anderson a while back. I'm just hoping that I can continue that strong tradition."

Riley said his strengths are that he's a very good pocket passer, and he displayed his strong arm and good decision making throughout the workout in drills.

"I'd say those would be my biggest strengths," he said. "But I'm also a coach's kid, so I've always been around the game and spend a lot of time in the film room watching tape and breaking down things in chalk talk."

Riley's recruitment has started to heat up along with his stock.

With offers on the table from Cal, Oregon State and UNLV, Riley is also getting attention from Michigan State, Clemson, Arizona State and Colorado. He said he is likely going to head out to Michigan State in week to attend camp in East Lansing.

Stafford came in to the workout with huge expectations, and he didn't disappoint.

Showcasing a big arm, great physical build and near perfect mechanics, Stafford showed everybody why he's the regarded as one of the nation's top 20 players overall. He also clearly made a very strong case to be named the nation's No. 1 quarterback as his workout was one of the most impressive performances in recent EA Sports Elite 11 workouts.

"It was awesome to come out here and compete against all of these other guys," Stafford said. "You read and hear a lot about them, but to come out here and test yourself against them is something that I was really excited about.

"I was confident that I was going to do just fine, and I think I did. There were a few balls that got away from me that I would have liked to take back, but I think for the most part I thought of this workout as a learning experience. I get to come out here and learn from some of the best coaches and compete against some of the best quarterbacks in the country.

"What more could you ask?"

Locker echoed Stafford's thoughts.

Mainly thought of as a dual-threat quarterback, Locker more than proved he will be an effective thrower in college. Wearing black and white NIKE Michael Vick cleats, Locker went to work with a myriad of impressive throws and flawless fundamentals.

"That Locker kid was really impressive," Jones, the top player in Illinois, said. "He and I have a very similar frame, and he made some really impressive throws. He's going to be a big-time quarterback in college."

Locker, who will for sure take official visits to both Cal and Washington this fall, said his goal wasn't to come out and impress anybody. He simply wanted to get better and improve some of his fundamentals, when he found out he was selected to the Elite 11 he was definitely surprised.

"But it's a good surprise," Locker said. "I came out here and wanted to learn and get better, but I guess the gamble paid off. I'm now going to the Elite 11."


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