Blake Stenstrom took a calculated risk when he enrolled at Valor Christian and waited behind Michigan bound quarterback Dylan McCaffrey for his chance to start. Even though his game time was limited, his talent has shined through. Stenstrom received an invitation to the prestigious Elite 11 Finals earlier this week.
"One of the reasons I believe the Elite 11 is so special is because it doesn't matter who you are or where you come from, all that matters is your performance," he said. "If you go out there and show you are one of the best, you are going to get an invite. I really appreciate that about it. It is not political."
"I had just got done with practice when I got the invite. I was really excited," said Stenstrom, who verbally committed to Colorado back in mid-December. "It is something I have been working at for a long time. I think every high school quarterback dreams of this opportunity. That is why I am so fired up."
Stenstrom is one of just 25 quarterbacks from the Class of 2018 that will get an opportunity to compete in the Elite 11 Finals in Los Angeles the first weekend of June. Last year, 12 of the top quarterbacks from the Finals were then invited up to Oregon for The Opening Finals in July.
"Last summer I went out to a bunch of camps, trying to put myself up against the best guys in the country to see how I stack up and what I have to work on," Stenstrom reflected. "Now, getting to go to the Elite 11 Finals where I am going to be up against 24 of the best quarterbacks in the country, all at the same time, it is going to be such a valuable experience. There is no substitute for competition."
It was Stenstrom's performance at The Opening regional event in New Orleans that put him firmly on the radar of the Elite 11 Finals selection committee. He posted a 94.20 SPARQ rating, which ranked in the 98th percentile for all prospects in his class. His eye-opening 3.96-second agility time ranked in the top one percent of all athletes, not just quarterbacks. Stenstrom continued turning heads during the camp's passing drills.
"I think I showed that I am really fundamentally sound, I make great decisions and I am athletic enough to move around in the pocket and use my legs a little," he said. "And I think another thing that is important is going out there and being a thermostat leader, not a thermometer leader; meaning that you change the energy in people around you, not the other way around."
Some other colleges, including Stanford and Georgia, have continued to show recruiting interest in Stenstrom but he remains solid in his commitment to the Buffaloes. Through a group chat, Stenstrom and some of Colorado's early verbal commits are targeting some uncommitted prospects, including Daniel Arias, Tommy Bush, Brock Sturges and Devon Williams.
"We are getting closer," Stenstrom said of the camaraderie among the Buffs' early 2018 pledges. "They were congratulating me on my invite. We talk about potential guys we want to talk to. We just offered a lot of guys so we have some catching up to do but it is going great. I am excited to see who else commits to us in the future."