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July 18, 2011
The Elite 11 is always one of the summer's best events because many of the nation's top quarterbacks are truly put to the test against each other to find out who's the best at that position. Here are five things we'll be watching this week at Pepperdine:
1. Is Kiel far and away the No. 1 quarterback?
Rivals.com rates Gunner Kiel from Columbus (Ind.) East as the nation's top quarterback and since he doesn't do many interviews or go to every camp possible, this will be a good chance to see how well he backs up that ranking.
Kiel, the No. 19 prospect in the 2012 class, was outstanding as a youngster at last summer's Elite 11 going into his junior season. He and Zach Kline really impressed and were arguably two of the top quarterbacks regardless of age.
Kiel has a big-time reputation and a big-time arm. This week in Malibu, Calif., he really has a chance to separate and continue to establish himself as the best quarterback in the class.
2. Can Kline bounce back?
The Danville (Calif.) San Ramon Valley quarterback who's committed to California had a sub-par performance at The Opening and could use the Elite 11 to wrap up another fine summer.
Kline, the second-best pro-style quarterback in the class, was out of sorts at times at The Opening, throwing too many bad passes and interceptions and not looking comfortable in the pocket.
Numerous times, including the Stanford Elite 11 regional camp, Kline has looked really sharp and skilled so we expect him to return to that form. He has one of the strongest arms in the class and could use this opportunity to bounce back.
3. Will there be much recruiting news?
Of the 24 quarterbacks invited, only five of them are not committed so we're wondering if there will be tons of recruiting news coming out of the Elite 11 this season. There could be with some interesting prospects still on the board.
The five uncommitted players are Greenbrier (Ark.) recruit Neal Burcham, Jupiter (Fla.) prospect Tyler Cameron, Cleveland (Tenn.) standout Chad Voytik, Hueytown (Ala.) recruit Jameis Winston and Kiel.
There are definitely many storylines going into the event and players will have ample opportunities to make their name so we certainly shouldn't be hurting for stories, but we're wondering how much recruiting-specific news will be made.
4. Can Mangum keep it up?
No one showed more poise or moxie in Beaverton, Ore., than Mangum, who missed most of his junior season because of injury. He was calm and patient, picking apart defenses and leading his 7-on-7 team to lots of wins.
If he can keep up that pace then there needs to be serious talk about moving him up in the rankings. Even after his showing at The Opening there is a good chance he will see a bump because he was that good.
5. Who's going to surprise?
At last summer's Elite 11, Adam Pittser from Richmond (Ill.) Burton was one of the biggest surprises after performing well on numerous days. Who's it going to be this year?
Many of the nation's top quarterbacks have to be dismissed because they already have major reps so let's look at some of the under-the-radar guys such as North Carolina commit Patton Robinette, Boise State pledge Nick Patti or Iowa State commit Grant Rohach, who was solid at the Stanford Elite 11 and NIKE Camp.
It should be an interesting week - and many guys will have a chance to make an even bigger name.