In The Huddle w/ Justin Midgett

Florida Gator commitment <B>Justin Midgett</B> recently participated in the Student Sports Elite 11... a camp for the top 12 quarterback in America. In this installment of "In the Huddle", Midgett writes about his Elite 11 experiences both on and off the field. Five great days for Midgett and the 11 other QBs.

Elite 11 Diary

Day One:
 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

I was rooming with Robert Lane, which was fun because he has that southern accent which gave me a hard time trying to impersonate. We had our first practice session at 4:30 p.m. out on the reserved playing fields. Everyone did pretty well, but I think everyone was tired from the plane ride and were still trying to figure out the drills.

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.

Day Two:
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

We got back to the resort to find that EA Sports had set up a tournament for us with there new game NCAA 2003. I don't play video games much so I thought I would lose in the first round and be out of the tournament. But my Gators pulled through for me and got me to the semifinals where I lost to Clayton Richards. My strategy... onside kicked the ball every time because I would much rather be picking apart defenses then trying to play defense. Chris Leak ended up winning the tournament with Texas as his team. After that, everyone pretty much filtered out through the night. The latest to play the game was JaMarcus Russell, who stayed up extra late to make his own team and make his own players.

Day Three:
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.

Day Four:

Russell was impressive

Started off as every other day did, but by this time everyone's arms were starting to hurt, including mine. Bags of ice were being applied every 15 minutes to help fight off some of the soreness. Our chalk talk session went well. The first person called to the board to show some cover 2 "beaters" was JaMarcus Russell, who did well, but in the end I went up there to help him out a little bit.

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.

Day Five:
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

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