The Elite QB Academy - Day Two

It was day two of the Elite QB Academy at the University of Nebraska . At this point the arms start to get a big weary. It doesn't stop the competing, though, nor does it stop the learning process, which is why all of these campers are here. But the competition is about bragging rights and today was the event everyone loves: The Long Ball

There are certain events which speak to the male side of things. Professional wrestling, bull riding, etc. It's a machismo deal, where the philosophy basically is: the last one standing wins.

It would be hard to equate throwing a football to riding 1,500 pounds of ticked off bovine, but there's something about being able to heave that thing farther than anyone else.

The ironic part is that outside of the first year of the QB Academy, where Harrison Beck won the competition, it's been non-Husker commits at the time who have taken home the trophy for the longest ball of the day. That already changed a bit when Blaine Gabbert committed to Nebraska , as he won this very contest two years ago, beating out then-Husker commit Josh Freeman.

It's not a direct defending of his title, but Gabbert admitted even before the camp started that this was one event that he wanted to win.

Gabbert rips off one of his 69-yard throws in the long ball segment

To that end, amidst a wind-aided afternoon, Gabbert reeled off two 69 yard throws, which was just short of the existing record, set last year by in-state standout Nathan Enderle.

Alas, it was not to be as Gabbert's 69 yard toss lasted only a brief time as the top throw, first being bested by junior-to-be Ryan Eastman from The Woodlands, Texas, as he threw it 71. And his throw lasted only a brief time as well, as another junior-to-be, Dakota Stonehouse from Springs, Colorado heaving the ball a whopping 74 yards. Both Eastman's and Stonehouse's throw are technically new records for the QB Academy, but with the wind we might have to throw a little asterisk on that mark. But facts are facts and everyone had the wind, so credit has to be given that the two kids from outside of the state stood one and two on the podium for the longest throws of the camp.

Gabbert not winning it is hardly a big deal as we have pointed out the fact that Husker commits normally don't win this particular event. But the Husker-to-be got some serious heat from someone a lot closer to home. Actually, IN the home is more like it, younger brother and just a sophomore-to-be – Tyler Gabbert coming up just one yard short of big brother's mark with a 68 yard chuck down the field.

But that's the so-called "big" event, but it's only part of what is an experience for a lot of aspiring quarterbacks from around the United States , and in this particular case, as far away as Canada .

They come to learn mostly, but it's always nice to be able to show what you already know and then combine that with the teachings at the camp and see just what happens.

To that end, there I am watching the older Gabbert, of course, but you have to take notice of some of those around him, who are perhaps trying to achieve the kind of recognition Gabbert has achieved.

I don't know that we are going to help that come true, but there were a few players who caught our eye over the last couple of days:

Out of Palmetto High School in Palmetto, Florida came senior-to-be Bryan Smith. While he's not long on stature, standing just short of six foot, Smith makes up for that with a good arm and excellent mobility.

Bryan Smith proved to be very capable and even excellent in most
every area of the competition

Many of the drills throughout this camp are geared toward testing and even taxing one's footwork, and in almost every instance this young man showed that his feet work just fine.

But it's one thing to be able to move around well, but it's another thing entirely to be able to hit the mark on the run. And once again Smith proved more than capable. While we don't have any official standings as to who ranks where in the competition, from our rough tally, we figure Smith is at the very least in the top five.

You think to yourself how he could fit at college's elite level, and the only place I could see would be running some sort of option-based attack. Even then his size is going to be a very big deterrent for even schools such as Ohio and Buffalo , who both aren't amongst the top or even mid-tier level, but do utilize the option to a great degree.

Smith might project quite well to one division lower, but it's not totally out of the realm of possibility that someone at the highest level of college play could give him a look. With somewhere around 4.6 speed, he may even see his career at running back or perhaps even safety. Either way, this kid can sure throw the ball.

Another which caught our attention is someone you don't have to go to the Sunshine State to find. In fact, from Lincoln , it's only about a 37 mile drive to the northeast, arriving at Gretna .

Another senior-to-be, Ryan Schuetz doesn't have the limitations on size, standing just about 6 foot, 3 inches tall. He's also got a good frame on him, Ryan appearing as if he's weighing right around 200 to 210 pounds.

Ryan Schuetz showed it all, from mobility, to accuracy, to good
arm strength

But the proof of the potential is in the pudding, as they say, and Schuetz proved to be one of the more accurate throwers, but the one thing that stood out to me particularly, was his mobility and footwork.

These drills are designed to test kids, and often, you are given verbal cues by one of the many attending coaches, telling you to go forward, back, left, right, over an obstacle, back over it again and then they finally tell you to release the ball. You never know what they are going to say or in what kind of rhythm it will come, so many kids find themselves tripping over their own feet. That happened to everyone, but Schuetz proved to be very nimble in being able to move fluidly on cue. His arm strength is pretty good as well, and while it may not be tested to any great degree with his run-heavy prep football team, Schuetz strikes me as someone, who if you are willing to work with him and give him some of the time to get better, he could be a nice prospect.

I won't say at what level, but we all know Zac Taylor didn't accomplish everything he accomplished at Nebraska , due to his great mobility and his earth-shattering arm. The kid just knew how to play the game and he was very smart in his decisions. Schuetz has many of those same characteristics, but doesn't have the experience in the kind of system, where you would say he's going to fit such-and-such type of attack. He basically needs time, reps and opportunities until you can see what I think is impressive physical potential turn into a realization or at least, a determination of just what kind of system he fits in and at what level.

The last quarterback we had a real brief chance to look at isn't a senior-to-be. He's actually a sophomore-to-be. And his last name might be a little farmiliar:


Yes, the younger brother who came up just one yard shy of big brother Blaine. Now, I am going to give serendipity a little credit in that the wind I talked about was gusting, and perhaps the younger Gabbert threw it at a point where he caught the wind just right and it sailed farther than it would have otherwise.

Tyler Gabbert almost matched his bigger brother in the long ball

But 68 yards is still a long ways, especially when the young man throwing is that young, and unlike Ryan Mallet, who was at this camp when he was going into his sophomore year, Tyler Gabbert doesn't stand 6-5.

It's more like 5-11, and to watch him and especially, to watch simply how he throws, you would think that he's been learning the position for years. Well, that actually could be the case, as Blaine himself had been getting grade A tutoring. So, it stands to reason that Tyler would be getting the same. But I have to say that when you compare the two, Tyler 's mechanics might actually be on par with his brother's.

That's something to be that savvy in the technique of throwing the ball at so early an age. Now all he needs is time. And a few more inches vertically wouldn't hurt. Tyler doesn't have to grow to 6-5 like his brother, but if he can get to 6-2, maybe even 6-3, think about that 68 yards right now. Think about the fact that he's still got two years to go before he gets to the point in experience where his older brother is right now. And think about the fact that it could be Tyler backing up Blaine this year at Parkway West.

That's not bad upside, if you ask me. That's not bad potential. We might be hearing a lot more about the next Gabbert, maybe even before he gets to where Blaine is right now.

These camps are always an interesting thing. I never look at the results too much myself, though, I know fans love the numbers, lists and how people panned out. But honestly, this opportunity these kids have to throw at static targets, is one of the only times during their entire career they are throwing to targets which don't move. Sounds easy, but I've seen no less than three top 20 quarterbacks go through this particular camp, and nobody comes out even close to perfect.

This camp isn't about being perfect, because if you were or even capable of being that, you wouldn't be there in the first place. Let's not lose the fact that while we might consider them an opportunity to scout, almost all of those participating look at it as an opportunity to learn. Even the older Gabbert said that one of the biggest reasons he came to his camp was to learn under his future position coach, Shawn Watson.

We'll finish this up tomorrow as the Elite QB Academy continues, and these kids find their arms ready to fall off. But they won't be allowed to until the end of the camp, which will be complimented by the last competition, "The Ultimate Challenge."

Stay tuned as Big Red Report will bring you much more, including video of Blaine Gabbert in action during a number of his drills.  

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