Elite 11 Diary
I arrived in California via the Los Angeles Airport at 9:45. I was the first one there, along with Matt Tuiasosopo (younger brother of Oakland Raider Quarterback Marques Tuiasosopo). Matt was sent there to be a ball boy for the camp. We were the first campers to arrive at our resort, the Rancho Capistrano at 11 a.m. It was a very beautiful place, looking at the hills right behind the resort and the great playing fields they had for us. When everyone else started arriving I got to meet some great high school football players such as Chris Leak, Robert Lane, Kyle Wright, and Tommy Grady.
Lane at the Elite 11 last week
When we came back to the resort we had little
time to get ready for our dinner that night. We went to Rob Johnson's
friends house. Johnson is the son of our quarterback coach at the camp, Bob
Johnson. He was very hospitable, and served us food from Outback Steakhouse,
which he had catered for that night. We left there and had a players meeting
from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. on how to act and behave while at camp (none of those
rules were broken throughout camp by anyone). The first day passed, we had
lights out at 11 p.m. and were all ready for some sleep to prepare ourselves for
the following day.
We woke up at 8 a.m to Chris Keldorf (former University of North Carolina quarterback and M.V.P. of the Gator Bowl) banging on our doors. We went to breakfast then out to practice at 9 a.m. The weather was beautiful. No humidity, nice cool breeze, and 80 degrees felt like 70 degrees. It was nothing like Florida. We went through our drills and did our target game, which Carson Palmer (quarterback for the University of Southern California) won. After practice, we had our first chalk talk to go over what it's like to be a quarterback. How to deal with the pressure, the fame, and the criticism, and most importantly in my mind, about how to be an effective leader. We also went over some basic coverages, but just to get a glimpse of them, as we would dive deeper into them in the next couple of days.
After our "chalk talk" session was over we had 30 minutes to get ready for the Anaheim Angels game. It was very hot where we were sitting over the right field fence. By the end Robert Lane and I had walked down to the shade and found us some seats so we could relax. It was a great atmosphere. The Angels came back to tie the game against Oakland 4-4. But when we left early, the game was still knotted at 4 a piece.
Leak at the Elite 11
Once again, we went through the same routine of waking up at 8 a.m. and practice at 9 a.m. This day, I felt much better about how I was throwing then the previous two. We ran basically the same drills, with a little more coverages added to the defense. They ran a simple cover 2 or cover 3 which made it easier to read and recognize. After practice we had our "chalk talk" session where we actually went over all the coverages and the coverage beaters. I felt I did pretty well at this, because our offensive strategy (something we picked up from Coach Spurrier) was that there is no one defense that can stop all your offensive plays, so its just a matter of getting in the right play, which I felt I did pretty well at during the chalk sessions.
After that, we got ready and went down to San Diego to watch a Charger practice.
Ex-Gator Reche Caldwell was on that team wearing jersey #18. After there
practice we had a chance to meet and talk to Doug Flutie, Drew Brees,
and Marty Schottenheimer. Doug was still wearing his old Boston College
hat, but he seemed to be much shorter even than his appearance on T.V. Either
way, he is a natural born leader and knows how to win. We got to eat with the
team which gave us a chance to meet Junior Seau. And he is huge let me
tell you. At night, we had another chalk talk session then went to bed.
Russell was impressive
After that we went down to Rob Johnson's beach house and to Laguna beach, where there were more girls than I could have ever imagined. JaMarcus Russell, Tommy Grady, and another one of our ball boys played some street basketball against some people there. They lost pretty badly, but it was one of the funniest things I saw all camp.
That night we went to the Spectrum, which is just like an outside
mall. Most of us walked around and talked to girls, but when it came to eat, it
ended up Robert Lane, Kyle Wright, Blake Mitchell and I at the same
table. Blake has a deep southern accent that kept making us all laugh, including
our waitress. We headed back and hit the sack for our last night at the resort.
Our drills were mostly for fun this day, but mostly everyone had to sit out early due to there arm or shoulders hurting them. It was a good time though, and when that last session was over we packed up and got ready for our plane flights home. We all exchanged e-mail addresses and phone numbers to keep in touch and then everyone went on there way.
JaMarcus and I were the last to leave because we had the red-eye flight. My plane didn't depart until 9:30 p.m. Coach Andy Bark was kind enough to take us to his home, then to a beach club to hang out until it was time to leave