Academy Excellence

The first invitation for the Elite 11 Quarterback Academy was extended to Nebraska commit, Blaine Gabbert. That might have been one of the first indicators of Gabbert's ability. However, the chance to go to the academy and perform among the other top players in the nation was the chance to put a real stamp on Gabbert's resume.

Nebraska fans have known for a while that Blaine Gabbert has ability. The 6-foot-5 and 230-pound quarterback from Ballwin (Mo.) Parkway West showed off his frame and arm and the Nebraska Quarterback Academy.

What is really the dream or the goal of most of the nation's quarterbacks is the get the elusive, Elite 11 invite. Blaine Gabbert received his invitations first of all the invitees back in June.

"I really went to the Nike camp at Missouri to get the invite," Gabbert said. "I got the MVP of the quarterbacks there. I won an award. I was also told by some that I was the best player there."

Getting the invite to what is considered one of the top quarterback competitions in the nation was an honor in itself to Gabbert. What helped Gabbert the most was his approach and mindset about the academy.

"I really didn't approach it as a competition, or to make it tough, I really just wanted to compare myself to the other top quarterbacks in the nation."

What doesn't hurt Gabbert is that the type of environment that is at the academy is the type of environment he does best in. "I would probably say that I thrive on that competitive nature and the competition out there. I think that I really showed people what I can do in a competitive environment."

While the academy is a competition, it's also about becoming a better player. Gabbert, although a very polished quarterback, came away with some things that he would like to work on in his game.

"Definitely, all the little stuff like don't over-stride, stay relaxed and don't try and over-throw the ball. Those are the things that I need to work on as well as pin point accuracy, like trying to hit shoulders."

While Gabbert went out there to show his abilities and pick up on some tips, he came away with more. There were the other quarterbacks that he will be competing against on the field and for years to come in college.

"Really just the friendships with all of the guys that were there at the academy. Guys like Dayne Crist, Nick Crissman, Landry Jones, E.J. Manuel and everybody; we just hung out as a big group and had a lot of fun."

Gabbert came away with two awards from the combine. One of the awards dealt specifically with an area of his game or his ability and the other verified that Gabbert is definitely one of the top, if not the top, quarterback prospect in the nation.

"I won the strongest arm and the MVP of the combine. We really didn't do a long ball competition to win the award of strongest arm. I guess that they just evaluated us and decided."

"The MVP wasn't based on points or anything either. It was just an overall thing. It was the most complete quarterback; like they combined footwork, strongest arm, accuracy, competitiveness and some other things. It was just overall."

If you look at Gabbert, you see size, speed and ability. People have criticized though and said that those things didn't add up to big stats last year and that means that Gabbert isn't a top quarterback prospect. Statistics just don't capture the picture sometimes.

"I think that it really shows people that it doesn't matter what your stats are. What matters is how you perform in a competitive atmosphere and how you do against the top competition."

Gabbert walked into a pressure situation a the academy and shined the brightest of all the stars that were there. While he earned MVP, another of Gabbert's best traits is that he is never satisfied and will continue to improve his game.

"You can always improve. I am never really satisfied with how I do. You know that you can always do something better, like be a little more accurate. I'll keep working on it."

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