Rivals.com - Tuesdays with Gorney: Final thoughts on Elite 11, The Opening
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Tuesdays with Gorney: Final thoughts on Elite 11, The Opening

Conner Weigman
Conner Weigman (Nick Lucero/Rivals.com)

In his weekly series, Rivals National Recruiting Director Adam Gorney offers his thoughts on recruiting topics and storylines that impact the national landscape.


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MORE: Ranking the Elite 11 quarterbacks

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FINAL ELITE 11 THOUGHTS

The Elite 11 has wrapped up and it was an outstanding opportunity over a multi-day period to see almost all of the top-ranked quarterbacks in the 2022 class. Having those chances over numerous workouts was important because some of those recruits were consistently good throughout while others had great moments and then average showings as well. Here are some bullet-point thoughts on some of the bigger names:


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Ewers just throws the ball differently than everybody else in the class. The ball pops off his hand, it looks so effortless and his accuracy is phenomenal.

He might get a little too cute sometimes with the arm angles and the intentional off-platform stuff but if Zach Wilson shot up in the first round after doing some of that stuff at his pro day then Ewers should have no problem impressing the scouts.

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Klubnik has to be in the five-star discussion because he’s just so consistent, so smooth and he makes really tough throws (throwing from the opposite hash to the back corner of the end zone or throwing to where only his receiver can get it) look so easy.

The Clemson commit is arguably the second-best quarterback in the class and after liking Walker Howard over Klubnik during the first session, Klubnik was consistently better for the remainder of the event.

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I have to admit I wasn’t blown away by the Texas A&M commit early in the event. It looked like he was throwing a heavy ball, he was inconsistent when throwing on the run and he didn’t look comfortable.

But later on the first night, Weigman won the rail shot competition and there’s nothing better for a quarterback than performing under pressure. From that event on, Weigman was one of the best QBs at the event. Giving him a fifth star right now would be pushing it but the Aggies are getting a big-timer when the lights come on.

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I’ve always really liked Brown and that’s why he’s a Rivals250 guy and top 10 at his position but the USC commit was outstanding during all sessions at the Elite 11. He had one of the strongest arms at the event, he could fire into tight windows or put some air under it.

Brown just seemed to have an excellent feel for everything the counselors threw at him. Ninth at pro-style QB feels way too low for him now.

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There are two schools of thought on Murphy: Everyone knows the Texas commit looks like a million bucks and in camp and 7-on-7 settings he can deliver the goods as well as anybody in the country but in games he struggles. I’m changing any negative feelings about him now and I’m convinced when surrounded with a strong offensive line and playmakers at receiver, Murphy is going to be a star in Austin.

He was so good during long stretches at the Elite 11, he’s arguably the best looking QB from a physical standpoint in the country and when he has receivers who can get open and make plays, Murphy is going to be great for the Longhorns.

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It was such a strange year for Houser because the coronavirus shutdown pushed the high school season in California to the spring and then it was just a handful of games plus he split time with 2023 four-star QB Pierce Clarkson at Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco so he never got going in a major way. I feel like I saw Houser throw more passes at the Elite 11 than during his season and he was super impressive.

The new Michigan State quarterback commit plays with a calm coolness, he’s a surprise athlete and he’s textbook from a technical standpoint. Houser cannot get to East Lansing soon enough for an offense that needs a serious jumpstart.

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Some wrote that Allar was one of the best quarterbacks at the event and while I didn’t see that and so I don’t agree with it, the Penn State commit is intriguing and could be a great fit for the Nittany Lions. He’s all of 6-foot-5 and 225 pounds so Allar is a big, pocket-passing quarterback who reminded me of a poor man’s Christian Hackenberg.

Early on, Allar’s ball sailed a little bit and anything on the run wasn’t great. But like many of these guys as he settled in, Allar’s passes became more crisp and he moved up the list of 20 QBs at the event. Was he top five? Not in my book but he was impressive and outplayed a high three-star ranking.

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If there is one quarterback who could emerge as a superstar in college that showed flashes of brilliance but also struggled at times during the Elite 11 it’s Jackson. The ball comes out so smoothly, he has an effortless look to how he plays the position but sometimes he misses receivers on tough throws.

Working with Josh Heupel and in that new Tennessee offense where the Vols are going to throw the ball, Jackson could put up big numbers and if he can work out some small issues, he could have that offense humming.

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FINAL THOUGHTS ON THE OPENING

Brown has to be in the five-star discussion. He’s not going to blow you away physically but he’s gotten bigger and thicker over the last year while keeping that insanely dynamic athletic ability where he can get open against anybody. He proved it during a short junior season at Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei that he just has an extra burst that few others have and then at The Opening he was making it look too easy.

I’m hearing that Oklahoma looks good to keep his commitment although USC keeps trying to flip him and as a running back and someone who can also line up at receiver and make things happen in space, Brown has unique qualities.

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The top six safeties in the 2022 class could all make an argument to be No. 1 on the list for one reason or another and it’s going to be a heated debate to determine whether Mathews is the only five-star in the group. He was solid at the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge but did he prove that he’s undoubtedly the No. 1 safety? I’m not so sure. Kamari Wilson is great and I loved watching Xavier Nwankpa at The Opening. He’s long, smooth, rangy and runs well plus with pads on he hits like crazy.

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I was talking to Grayes on the sidelines at the Under Armour Camp in Phoenix a few months ago and his track schedule was messing with how many events he could attend this offseason. He finally got to The Opening and Ohio State is getting a good one. He’s not going to blow anyone away physically but neither did Chris Olave and I clearly missed on Olave’s ranking coming out of high school.

Grayes can get open against anybody, he has a big-time competitive mindset and he catches everything. Ohio State is loaded at receiver but Grayes feels like someone who’s going to Columbus, will catch a ton of passes and will give headaches to cornerbacks across the Big Ten because he’s not big or physical but just gets open always.

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I really like Inniss as the top wide receiver in the 2023 class but Longview, Texas, standout Jalen Hale is making it tough to keep him from that No. 1 spot as well.

He looks great, he’s added a few inches, runs well and can separate from cornerbacks. Inniss is phenomenal and does all those things plus more but Hale is going to push Inniss throughout the next couple recruiting cycles. I’ve been told LSU might be the front-runner now for Hale with Oklahoma, Texas and Texas A&M still right there.

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In the Fastest Man competition, Humphrey made a big point by beating Domani Jackson, Rayshon Luke, Raleek Brown and Andre Stewart in a 40-yard dash which is especially something because Jackson just ran 10.25 in the 100.

To be fair, Jackson did stumble from the start a little but Luke is also a star track athlete and Humphrey beat them all. He’s already a top-50 player nationally but an argument could be made to move the Florida cornerback commit a little higher in the position rankings because he might be the fastest player at that spot. If he shines with the Gators and then goes to the NFL Combine with that speed, he has first-round potential.

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Gibson recently moved up to the No. 16 receiver nationally and I’m not sure that’s high enough. The Winter Garden (Fla.) West Orange standout is all of 6-foot-5 and so as a red-zone threat there might not be a better one in the 2022 class.

Quarterbacks can throw the ball up in the air and Gibson has the length and reach to just go over the top. He’s skinny but Gibson doesn’t get pushed around and I love the attitude he plays with on the outside, too. Florida is the favorite.

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This was my first time seeing McCullough in person and I was surprised. There was some good surprise (wow is he big and in position drills he can move) and some bad (wow is he big even for an outside linebacker and his straight-line speed did not look elite) and so I have some questions about the high four-star Indiana commit.

Can he stay at linebacker in the Big Ten or will he eventually move down to defensive end? If he does, that would be perfectly fine because he has the frame and the athleticism to be special there. I knew he was big coming into the event but he was surprisingly big to me and definitely left an impression.

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In our early 2023 top 100 there are five tight ends ranked ahead of Robinson but that is definitely going to change. The Phoenix (Ariz.) Pinnacle standout looks awesome physically and he could arguably be either No. 1 or No. 2 at that position in the 2023 class.

Robinson can run, he can catch with defenders hanging all over him and he can stretch the field and make plays deep. From a great pedigree where his dad played football at Florida State and his mom swam at Florida, Robinson has special qualities and in the next re-ranking he’s 100 percent moving way up.