The Elite 11 coaching staff sent a message to event finalists Sunday morning, declaring an ordered list of top competitors through two days of action in Redondo Beach, Calif. Penn State commit Justin Fields sent one right back, providing further validation for elevated national hype.
Fields, a 6-foot-3, 221-pound rising senior at Harrison (Kennesaw, Ga.) High, put himself in excellent position to secure a spot in the 2017 Elite 11 class.
— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) June 4, 2017
Entering the action Sunday, Elite 11 coaches listed Fields at No. 2 in a competition that includes two dozen other contenders. He trailed only Clemson commit Trevor Lawrence, who is also the lone quarterback ahead of him in 247Sports’ 2018 composite rankings.
Last day = Last chance to get your name on the board. 6 hours of competition remain. Time to shine. 🏆 pic.twitter.com/QGlUKgkY8R
— Elite11 (@Elite11) June 4, 2017
Fields soared to No. 6 overall in composite rankings this spring via industry updates. Lawrence, a fellow 5-star Peach State product, has essentially spent his entire high school career entrenched as the class’ top overall prospect.
The two prized passers may soon team up together on the field again.
“We’re friends and we’re close,” Fields told Devin Ugland of USA Today on Sunday. “We’ve been trying to get a dual workout together, but it’s just never happened.”
Joined by blue-chip recruits such as Ohio State commit Emory Jones and USC pledge Matt Corral, this duo managed to separate themselves through 48 hours in Southern California.
But before we get to Sunday, let’s go over what happened late Saturday.
Following our Saturday evening update on Fields’ early efforts at Elite 11 finals, he ended the day by participating in a staple of this annual event: pro-day drills. Much like when NFL draft prospects are under surveillance during their pro-day workouts, these high school standouts are analyzed throughout each rep.
Devin Leary, a North Carolina State commit from New Jersey, registered the event’s top score, according to Stephen Nelson of Bleacher Report. Mike Felder, also of Bleacher Report, noted Fields brought a high level of competitive nature to the pressure-packed setting.
Justin Fields, just a ball of energy on the Pro Day, has to harness that energy to finish throws. Anticipation was strong.
— Michael Felder (@InTheBleachers) June 4, 2017
Elite 11 work resumed Sunday, carrying on throughout the day. The weekend is a widespread experience for its participants, as phases include intensive playbook studies, demanding physical challenges and fundamental drills that place various mechanics of the position under a microscope.
Fatigue tends to set in for some quarterbacks down the final stretch. Based on all reports, Fields powered through and finished strong.
— QBHitList.com (@QBHitList) June 4, 2017
Elite 11 coaches take a lot into account as they determine which 12 quarterbacks will advance to The Opening in Oregon this summer and become official members of the Elite 11 fraternity. Those selected following finals aren’t simply assessed based on their performance in Redondo Beach, but rather their cumulative body of work in high school and their long-term promise.
Fields looks like a legitimate candidate to pursue MVP honors. But simply making the team would be an honor in itself.
The 12 quarterbacks selected Monday will join an esteemed collection of Elite 11 alumni such as Andrew Luck, Deshuan Watson and Jameis Winston. The MVP of the 2017 Elite 11 class will be named on July 3 at The Opening.
Recent MVP winners include Tua Tagovailoa (2016; Alabama signee) and Shea Patterson (2015; Ole Miss signee). Incoming Penn State freshman Sean Clifford is a member of the 2016 Elite 11 class, while all-time Nittany Lions passing yardage leader Christian Hackenberg earned that accolade in 2012.
Fields worked with a group of counselors currently chasing college football championships, including Penn State QB Trace McSorley. They could share a locker room together in State College if Fields signs with the Nittany Lions next winter and the redshirt junior returns for his final season of collegiate eligibility.
— Justin Fields (@justnfields) June 2, 2017
Fields completed 67 percent of passes in 2016, per MaxPreps, tallying 2,770 yards and 23 touchdowns. He added 1,176 yards and 15 scores as a rusher, excelling in an area of the game that isn’t routinely utilized in Elite 11 competition, which focuses more on development behind the line of scrimmage.
Able to shred an opponent to pieces with his passing skills, Fields feasts on defensive lapses by tucking the ball and taking off downfield. This combination should continue to attract a long list of suitors beside Penn State until he signs a letter of intent.
The announcement of Elite 11 selections is expected Monday, and we’ll have the latest on that development here on Land of 10.