ALISO VIEJO, Calif. - Following Robert Marve and Aaron Murray at Tampa (Fla.) Plant has afforded Phillip Ely opportunities that don't exist at many high schools, not only playing for one of the state's top teams but learning from two standout quarterbacks who have been in the same position.
It's an honor Ely, who's close to making his college decision, doesn't take lightly.
"It's something really special," Ely said Tuesday at the EA Sports Elite 11 workout at Soka University. "This is just different. We're so close and we're good friends and we broke records, we take our team to championships and that's really cool. We're just a bunch of guys that can hang out and talk football.
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"It's definitely an honor to be there but you have some pressure because I always want to do just as good as them if not better but I have to keep the tradition going. I don't want to be the person that ends it all for Plant High School. It's something I think about all the time and something that pushes me."
A four-star recruit who's rated as the fifth-best pro-style quarterback by Rivals.com, Ely remains non-committal on his top schools but many believe Clemson, Wake Forest, LSU and Ole Miss are some of his favorites. He's visited those four campuses and has also seen Tennessee, Alabama and Notre Dame.
When Ely returns home from the Elite 11 later this week he plans to sit down with Plant coach Robert Weiner and his family to discuss his college plans. He'll lean heavily on Weiner, who coached Marve and Murray, dealt with their busy recruitments and takes the Plant quarterback tradition seriously as well.
"We definitely talk often and cater to being a quarterback family, a family within our football family," Weiner said. "All our positions do that but I think particularly at quarterback.
"My wide receivers coach said to Phillip the other day, 'Is there any position in high school sports in the country better than being the quarterback at Plant High School?' In a lot of ways that's true. We don't say that arrogantly at all. They've created something that's really special."
Marve ended up at Purdue and Murray is at Georgia. Now Ely is next in line, the player who took over the heralded Plant tradition and is 19-0 as a starter with two state championships. This is Ely's first and only go-around in the recruiting process as a player so he plans to lean on Weiner as his decision gets closer. Weiner has been there before and knows the ropes.
"More than anything else, you do all the things you're supposed to, you weigh all the pros and cons and then get it all out and then you have all that in the back of your head and in the end I think it's a gut feel," Weiner said.
"Aaron was the ultimate example of that. Aaron had ideas probably other than Georgia before he went on his trips but knowing all the facts he knew he put that together and Georgia just felt right when he was there. When you do that you really have your heart in the decision and you're going to go forth and make it work."
There is a lot Ely likes about the four programs that many believe are the finalists. Coach Les Miles and offensive coordinator Gary Crowton stand out at LSU, not only as coaches but as friends who "won't football-talk me to death," Ely said.
Clemson defensive ends coach Chris Rumph is the key for the Tigers plus Ely was pleasantly surprised with the campus during his visit.
"Their facilities are off the chart and their campus is beautiful," Ely said. "I didn't expect it to be that nice."
Coach Jim Grobe and linebackers coach Steve Russ stand out at Wake Forest and Ely is also excited about the job coach Houston Nutt has done at Ole Miss.
"I have a lot of options in front of me," Ely said. "I can't wait to break it down and get my decision over with."
Like he was with Marve and Murray, Weiner will be by Ely's side throughout the decision-making process. He's been there before and is close with Ely, who said he listens to Weiner's opinions and will be a big factor when it comes down to his commitment.
"I listen to him all the time," Ely said. "He's pretty much my guidance through this whole thing and I trust him because he's been through this before. All of his judgments and all he has to say I listen to and I get my opinions from him."
Weiner said: "Different kids are set in different ways in what they want to do and some have really set things and some kids want some real guidance. Phillip has a great family around him who's going to help him sort through it but being through the college process and us having such a good relationship he'll lean a lot on me helping him sort that through."