Every athlete holds dreams from a young age. For some, the chance to live out a dream is something they’ll always remember. For future Michigan State Spartans quarterback Rocky Lombardi, making the Elite 11 adds to his list of fulfilled dreams.
“When I found out, I was sitting at home doing homework,” explained Lombardi. “I got a text from Brian Stumpf and he had the information that I was invited to go to Los Angeles for the Elite 11. So that was pretty cool.”
For Lombardi, the Elite 11 was something he’s always wanted to be part of.
“I don’t know exactly when it became something I wanted to do,” he said. “But since I was a little kid, I’ve seen it on television and watched those guys compete. I always thought it was something cool to do and something I wanted to participate in. But definitely since I was a young kid.”
Lombardi is working to make sure he’s ready for an event that has seen 10 of the past 11 quarterbacks to have won the Heisman Trophy attend the Elite 11 Finals or an Elite 11 regional.
“I’m still throwing after school to keep the arm loose and stuff like that,” he said. “So I’m going to go out there to have fun and try to do the best I can. But mostly, I’ll try to enjoy the weather, compete and make the most of this experience. I’ve never been to California.”
How did the Lombardi family react to the news of their son making the event?
“My family is really excited and my dad knows how big of a deal the Elite 11 is,” he said. So he was really excited. My mom, she was really excited because I had never been to California. So everybody had their reasons to be excited.”
Lombardi feels making the event stresses to doubters about his talent as a quarterback and of Michigan State having faith in his abilities.
“I always thought of myself as a quarterback,” he stressed. “I know I can play quarterback and since Michigan State recruited me as a quarterback, it gave me a lot of confidence. So making the Elite 11 just builds my confidence going to this camp. It’s a special event and not many people get to go. So it keeps boosting my confidence.
“It also means a lot about how well Michigan State evaluates talent as they seem to have guys each year getting invited. So I think it says a lot to the fact they know what they are doing evaluating quarterbacks.”
Looking back Lombardi knows the help his father gave him at an early age has placed him in this position.
“My dad has been having me do quarterback drills since I was eight years old,” he said with a laugh. “Every day in the summer I would wake up and go do the running workout and then go to the little kids camp and do some football drills and throw the ball around.
“So he’s helped me do a lot of drills to help develop my arm and taught me a lot about the game. That has helped me make better decisions on where to throw the ball or where to go with the ball when nobody is open. So that’s helped me a lot in getting a step up on other quarterbacks. So he had a major part in developing me in my younger years.”
The Elite 11 Finals take place from June 3-5 in Los Angeles, California with quarterbacks receiving one-on-one quarterback instruction along with competing in on-field drills, routes-on-air, classroom instruction and off-field development. The Elite 11 will be named at the conclusion of the event and will receive an invite to The Opening Finals.