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July 22, 2010
Elite 11: Driskel is best of the best
MORE: Jeff Driskel dominates Elite 11 | 2012 QB Kline lights up Elite 11
ALISO VIEJO, Calif. - One Elite 11 counselor compared Jeff Driskel to Troy Aikman and Peyton Manning, an outstanding honor for the Florida commit who was named the MVP of the week-long quarterback competition held at Soka University.
After watching Driskel, from Oviedo (Fla.) Hagerty, for four straight days working out in drills and 7-on-7 competition the comparison to Aikman and Manning at the same stage is not at all a stretch.
Driskel makes all the throws, has an incredibly strong arm and impressive delivery and is deceptively athletic as well, a perfect fit for the Gators who have the offensive minds on their coaching staff to make Driskel an even bigger star.
"He's a much better athlete than people give him credit for," Elite 11 coach Matt James said. "He's so smooth in his drops and his arm is strong. He has the best opportunity to play right away. He's got the best chance of winning a national championship. Jeff is 1A and everybody else is fighting for second.
"He's a guy who could still be athletic in (Florida's) offense and they could still do some stuff out of the spread but he's also the pro-style type kid who could take some snaps under center and hand the ball off."
That's the thing about Driskel - he can do it all. During drill work with James and Elite 11 and Mission Viejo, Calif., coach Bob Johnson, Driskel looked good on three-step drops and five-step drops, accuracy challenges and everything in between.
When he needs to fire the ball between two defenders or into a small window, Driskel can get it there. If he needs to put some touch on it to loft the ball over the linebacker or during certain routes he has no issue with that, either.
Something else that stood out about Driskel, the top-rated pro-style quarterback and No. 31 overall by Rivals.com, is his competitiveness. There were moments to have fun throughout the four-day event but Driskel meant business most of the time and that intensity also helped him earn the MVP award.
"You always have to try to be at your best and you have to want to be the best and I came out here to play football," Driskel said. "I wasn't here to go to Disneyland even though that ended up being fun. You have to have that focused attitude and I had it throughout the week."
What about the comparison to Aikman and Manning?
"That's great," Driskel said. "Those two guys have done everything in the NFL. I wouldn't compare myself to them just yet. To be mentioned with them is an honor and I'm going to keep working to get better."
Even though he didn't put up monster statistics in his junior season, Driskel has been outstanding at multiple events this off-season to further solidify his spot as the nation's top pro-style quarterback.
Four days at the Elite 11 made it simple to see that few quarterbacks are in his league and even more important is that James said Florida's offense could be a perfect situation - whether the Gators want to use him in the pocket, in play-action or even utilizing his running ability at times.
"He's very reminiscent of (John) Brantley," James said. "I don't know if there's going to be another (Tim) Tebow ever in that offense but if they wanted to they have the ability to spread people out and do some things with him because of his athleticism. I don't think people understand he is a very athletic kid or if they want to go into more of a pro-style. You're getting a little bit of every offense.
"On top of that, he's a smart kid who loves to chalk it up. That's one of the biggest things for these quarterbacks are the intangibles off the field that they have to have. Everyone was impressed with him including the counselors."
Adam Pittser, from Richmond (Ill.) Burton, has offers from Ball State, Central Michigan, Western Michigan and Illinois State but things could pick up dramatically after his Elite 11 performance.
Pittser, a 6-foot-1, 200-pound prospect, runs a wing-T offense in high school so he doesn't have big stats or an overly impressive highlight film but after his showing here things could take off. He finished second in the MVP running to Driskel and was one of the more polished quarterbacks all week.
"You have a wing-T kid with three 1,000-yard rushers on his team and I played the wing-T in high school so I feel his pain where sometimes you throw eight times a game and that's on third down and you run the waggle," James said.
"For a kid who throws the ball maybe 60 times a year to come out here in shorts and a t-shirt and to come to some of these events, that's what's so great about the Elite 11, you see kids from all over. You're going to know your five-star kids, you're going to know your four-star kids. To find a kid like Adam, who no one knew about, that's special."