Nebraska fans were excited to have an opportunity to see their quarterback commitment compete against some of the nations' best quarterback prospects in the Elite 11. To the delight of all the Nebraska faithful, and to the surprise of some too, Johnny Stanton did well. Really well.
In fact, Stanton led the Elite 11 in at least two separate ratings posted on the Elite 11 Finals that I saw on T.V. the other night. In fact, it took his absence for the other quarterbacks in the competition to finally catch him.
And why was Stanton absent? Sick? Hurt? Nope, neither of those two things. I have a feeling after hearing what I have heard about Stanton from his coach, team mates and analysts that you never would have heard if he was sick or hurt.
In other words, those are two things that might hinder or slow him down some, but not stop. And I am sure that Stanton would get embarrassed reading that about himself, as any humble quarterback should, but what I have to say next about the Nebraska commitment might really make him feel awkward.
The reason Johnny Stanton missed any of the Elite 11 Finals competition was because he took off early one morning to take part in a seven on seven team competition for Santa Margarita (Calif.) High School. His high school football team. Not his quarterback competition.
It was referenced that Stanton would likely have a hard time holding onto the No. 1 spot in the rankings because of his absence. What didn't help, but should be commended, was that Stanton came back that day, warmed up quickly and assimilated himself right into the drills.
As you might expect, Stanton wasn't as sharp five minutes after the drive and then getting on to the field as some of the other quarterbacks who were on the field all day long. And as a result, Stanton slipped in the ratings.
To me, and what wasn't acknowledged in the special last night, was Stanton's recognition of what was important. Individual achievement or helping out his team that day. Which would you have done?
The quarterback position is a special one. It's the position, when an offensive strategy comes together, needs to be the first to distribute the credit despite any extraordinary individual effort.
It's also the position that when a game plan falls apart and the offense doesn't click that the special quarterbacks, even if the team knows that it wasn't their fault, steps up and takes the blame and says ‘it's on me'.
There are great quarterbacks that have come through the Elite 11 camp and gone on to do tremendous things. The alumni include Heisman Trophy winners, high draft picks and of course those quarterbacks that went to college and that's as far as they made it.
I can't tell you the winner of each year of the Elite 11. If you can, you have a recruiting sickness that rivals any other I have seen and I either applaud you for it or could recommend a therapist. But what I take away from this year's competition was Stanton's attitude.
His attitude toward team over the possibility of winning this prestigious competition and his skills on the field stood out to me. The quarterback position has to be subservient to the bigger picture: the team. It's a quality that I think comes with maturity and while maturity tends to come with time and age, Stanton is way beyond his years already.