The "Wet Ball" highlights Day 2

You ever try throwing a football soaked in water? It's not just the fact that it's wet. It's also heavier too. But when you are trying to learn how to become the best QB you can be, it's one of those things you must face. The campers did just that in Day two of the Nebraska Elite Quarterback Academy

If you have ever thrown a wet football, you know what it's like: It's not just wet, it's heavy. You can't really grip it, because that will end up hurting you more than helping you find the target.


That's how it goes and that was just part of the continuing learning process of the third annual Nebraska Elite Quarterback Academy as the prepsters from all over got to handle the wet ball, and some expectedly struggled.


John Morrow

Up to this point, it had been a pretty tight race, only a couple of the competitions having taken place. In day two, where there were three separate practices with an assorted amount of events, this should have been where the pack started to spread out.


Since we aren't actually allowed to see the scores, we had to tally them up to their best of our ability. And after the first day, San Jacinto's Chasen Stangel had a stranglehold on second, while local products Steve Heiman and Phillip Bates were neck-and-neck, joined by Bradenton , Florida standout and cousin to former Husker Fabian Washington, Latravis Washington.


The surprise, though, was the overall leader as Lincoln Pius' John Morrow proved to be the most accurate on the day. The thing was, you figured the big boys would come back in style.


Well, yes and no


It didn't take Latravis Washington long to make his stab at the top spot, taking the "long ball" contest, his best throw going a whopping 63 yards. Stangel tried to keep pace, throwing for 56 yards, which was good enough to place him in the top five for this particular competition. Both Heiman and Bates each went over 50 yards as well.


Chasen Stangel

That was followed by the "Gator Throw", a contest, where each participant throws at a John Deere "Gator", an all-terrain vehicle, with a little cargo box in the back. If you actually got it into the box, it was 10 points, but if you hit the ATV anywhere, it was five. Only one camper actually got the ball to settle in the box, but unfortunately for the fearsome foursome, it wasn't any of them. The good news for each, though, nobody really stood out, so it was still a tight race going into the second practice of the day.


After the second practice, the campers went at it again, but this time for the infamous "wet ball" contest, and early on, it wasn't the prettiest thing to watch. With each quarterback getting six tosses, Phillip Bates Jr. came out with three misses, but finished off nicely, hitting the bulls-eye two out of his next three, and hitting the target with his last shot.


It was Stangel, who proved the most consistent, closely followed by Heiman, and Washington stayed about where he was going into this particular part of the competition. But who would have thunk it, it was Morrow once again coming back, proving to be one of the most accurate passers for this event.


As night began to fall, it was the 7-step drop competition, where competitors dropped back and threw into the also infamous horizontally hanging trash cans. This is where the picture at the top started to get a little muddied.


Washington managed to hit the target twice, almost knocking it over once with his cannon for an arm. But it was a bit of a struggle for all the "major" competitors. It was the other kids coming up, various campers, who hadn't scratched much success at that point, who started to get into rhythm. So, where does that leave us right now?


Near as we can tell, it's a tight race with Morrow and Stangel at the top. And if our completely off-the-top-of-our-head guesses are even remotely correct, Heiman is still in the top five, followed closely by both Washington and Bates.


There are no doubt some of the campers we haven't identified, who have clawed their way toward the top, but based on results from Day one and those from earlier in the day, we can feel pretty safe in saying that the foursome probably stacks up in at worst, the top eight.

Jay Norvell & Phillip Bates Jr.


It's the "Ultimate Challenge" tomorrow, and arms already feeling a bit like jelly, will get tested to the nth degree. Some might call this a "QB Challenge", while some might opt to call it an athletic version of "Survivor."


As for how they have looked, Stangel looks to be the most natural of the quartet, his years of being coached by his father showing through, and Heiman has improved greatly from last year, more fluid and far more confident than he was in the 2005 Academy. Bates has the quickest release I have seen from any of the campers, combined with a great arm, and Washington could probably break concrete as hard as he throws the ball.


All of them have had their moments, where they were simply on fire, hitting one target after another. But they all have also struggled to a degree. That's how this stuff goes, and when the arm starts tiring, the technique all the coaches at this Academy stress and teach so effectively, starts to become harder and harder to execute.


It is too cliché' to say that today is where they will separate them men from the boys?


Yes, of course it is, because regardless of all the competitive juices flowing, this has been more an experience of fun than it has been of fury. While each QB has certainly shown they want to win, from the fun-loving smack talk to the jovial natures of all the participants, this camping experience has obviously been as entertaining as it has been educational.


One parent commented about this camp that they thought for young men to learn so much in such a stress free environment, it made this experience more than worthwhile. They even thought the coaches were having as much fun as the players.


Camp will conclude today and the MVP of the Academy will be crowned. As to who it will be, could be or might be, I think if your scorecard is anywhere close to ours, your conclusion is probably the same:


I don't have a clue


Stay tuned.

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