The noted quarterback coach, has 16 national stops planned for the spring and summer, and the maiden voyage was made in Pasadena.
Several of the elite passers in the West for the class of 2011 were on hand, with a few of the top underclass quarterbacks also in attendance and making a name for themselves.
The standout on the day was Chandler (Ariz.) quarterback Brett Hundley, who's firmly establishing himself as one of the top prospects, regardless of position, in the West. The top quarterback in Arizona in this class, Hundley won the Xenith Award on Saturday, for the top quarterback, after having the best day in the drills.
Hundley has very good feet, tremendous accuracy and a cannon for an arm. With offers from all over the West (including both in-state schools, Washington, Stanford, Colorado and Texas A&M among others), it was easy to see why Hundley has become a hot commodity. He was the most consistent of the passers in the Target Challenge, and showed his ability in making all of the throws.
After Hundley, Westlake Village (Calif.) Oaks Christian passer Trevor Gretzky probably had the next best day. Finally poised to be the starter for the Lions after waiting behind Nick Montana, Gretzky showed spurts that are making him worth the wait.
Like his famous father, Gretzky has good quick feet (albeit on a completely different playing surface), very good arm strength and pinpoint accuracy. Gretzky does a good job holding the ball up high when dropping back (think Aaron Rodgers). Gretzky only followed Hundley in the most consistent hits of the Target.
We expect Gretzky to follow in the footsteps of quarterbacks like Jeff Tuel (Washington State) and Marcus McDade (Fresno State) in the past couple of years who had to wait until their senior seasons to start at quarterback but parlayed the offseason into offers.
San Jose (Calif.) Archbishop Mitty quarterback Kyle Boehm started off slowly in the accuracy drills, but really started clicking as the morning went on. Boehm, the top quarterback in Northern California, with offers from Arizona State, Cal and Washington among others, has excellent agility and is one of the more athletic quarterbacks in the region. Playing primarily in a spread option offense at Mitty, Boehm is using the camp circuit to continue to impress with his arm, and he flashed very good arm strength as the morning went on.
Arizona commit Daxx Garman from Jones (Okla.), had a pretty good session, looking good when rolling out and doing well in the accuracy parts. He's better at the shorter and intermediate throws, but can make the deep pass throws too.
Corona (Calif.) Centennial passer Michael Eubank is a nice, big athlete, going about 6-5, 210, and for his size can really move. He's still pretty raw in his throwing motion, taking a little long to get rid of the ball, but he's got a strong arm. He needs to improve his accuracy, but you can see the pieces are there for Eubank to be a good quarterback with some more refinement and coaching.
Lakewood (Calif.) Mayfair quarterback Evan Hunko is more polished in his passing and has a smooth release with good feet and he was one of the more accurate quarterbacks on the day. Hunko has good size and still has room to add more weight.
Similar in build to Hunko is Palo Alto (Calif.) quarterback Christoph Bono, who's pretty slight but has good height and a good arm. Where Bono excelled was in the rollouts and accuracy drills. His arm strength is fine, but he could easily fit on another 20-25 pounds on to his frame. He's got good bloodlines and a good quarterback coach at home; his father, Steve, was a former quarterback for the 49ers and Chiefs after playing at UCLA.
Moreno Valley (Calif.) Rancho Verde quarterback Travis Champion has been an active participant at camps already this offseason, and he was steady on Saturday. Champion has very good size; he reminds us of Tyler Shreve from Redlands (Calif.) East Valley in his build and has a pretty strong arm. He struggled in the accuracy portion of the morning, missing on the targets quite a bit, but settled down over the course of the session.
Woodland Hills (Calif.) Taft quarterback Michael Bercovici threw for just a little bit before heading out to USC's Junior Day, but looked good when he had his chances to throw. Like Gretzky, Bercovici is poised for a big spring, after having to sit out the majority of the 2009 season because of a transfer, and he's got a nice, live arm with good strength.
Other 2011 passers who caught our eye were Redmond (Ore.) passer Mitch Dahlen, Sacramento (Calif.) Bradshaw Christian's Daniel Lewis, Tuolomne (Calif.) Summerville's Zach Roberson, Durham (Calif.) Nelson Fishback, Montebello (Calif.) Schurr's Aaron Cantu, Simi Valley (Calif.) Grace Brethren's Max Leffler, North Hollywood (Calif.) Harvard-Westlake's Max Heltzer and Upland (Calif.) Justin Nunes.
From the underclass ranks, a trio of 2013 prospects stood out to us.
The first was Los Angeles (Calif.) Cathedral's Hayden Rettig, the younger brother of Boston College-signee Chase Rettig. After playing freshman ball at San Clemente, Rettig is poised to be the starter at Cathedral for the next three years, and he'll be one of the top prospects in his class. Already graced with good size, at 6-4, 205, Rettig is bigger than his brother was at this stage, and has a stronger arm that Chase did (and arm strength was Chase's forte), with better feet and a smoother throwing motion.
Sherman Oaks (Calif.) Notre Dame should be in good hands with 2013 prospect Kelly Hilinski the next in line at the Valley program, in taking over for Ryan Kasdorf. Hilinski has much better size than Kasdorf (probably a half-foot taller) and is very similar to former Knights quarterback Dayne Crist in his size, though not as filled out as Crist was at this stage. He's got a pretty strong arm and is pretty accurate and has a lot of upside.
The third member of the 2013 class who we liked was Harbor City (Calif.) Narbonne's Troy Williams, who will take over for Chad Dashnaw this year with the Gauchos. We saw Williams last summer at the USC Rising Stars Camp, when he was heading into his freshman year, and he impressed then and he still looks like his best football is ahead of him, which is scary because he's already looking pretty strong as a passer. His accuracy is good, his arm strength very good, but his agility is even better.
David Sills, the 2015 prospect who's committed to USC, was also in attendance, but only threw sparingly.