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Elite 11 Finals: Moore, Nelson and Arnold Lead on Day 1

Sports Illustrated logo Sports Illustrated 6/29/2022 John Garcia Jr.
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Moore, the nation's top uncommitted quarterback, dominates the opening day of camp.

REDONDO BEACH, Calif.—The 2022 Elite 11 Finals quarterback competition kicked off on Tuesday evening. 

Twenty of the nation's best class of 2023 passers, along with notable college quarterbacks C.J. Stroud (Ohio State), Devin Leary (NC State), Caleb Williams (USC) and Dorian Thompson-Robinson (UCLA) kicked off the annual competition with a station-driven camp circuit before a "rail shot" competition to close it out. 

Sports Illustrated was on hand for the three-plus hour workout and looks back at those who made the strongest first impression. 

(SI will rank each passer following each workout, based solely on the day's work)

1. Dante Moore - Undeclared

The consensus top uncommitted quarterback in the nation, Moore showed a smooth and rhythmic motion along with a compact stride leading to the ball zipping out of his hand. Working with a sense of comfort and competitiveness to open the event, the Detroit (Mich.) King standout shined as the top intermediate passer from the entire group. He hits short passes with enough accuracy to lead receivers and running backs so that they can continue moving forward without adjusting their stride. Moore was just the most consistent arm we saw Tuesday. As for his recruitment, Oregon has buzz following last weekend's visit to Eugene, but no timeline for a decision was revealed. Moore has been linked to Notre Dame, Michigan, Ohio State, LSU and Texas A&M at different points of the process. 

2. Malachi Nelson - USC Verbal Commitment

The local star out of Los Alamitos looked the part and played it with a clean motion and balanced ability from both the pocket and outside. There is an ease to the experienced signal-caller that comes regardless of the situation the staff put him in. The second-level throws came with plenty of velocity, similar to the end zone work while working to his weak side (left) while on the move. Nelson looked as comfortable as any competitor to kick off the workouts. 

3. Jackson Arnold - Oklahoma 

The arm talent Arnold showed at just about every station was obvious and some of the off-platform plays he made led to audible reactions from scouts and onlookers alike. The Texan steps into his throws with elite power, but showed touch at a higher clip on Tuesday compared to the regional workout in which he punched his ticket to the finals in March. Arnold has a fluid motion and quick release, with some ability to manipulate the arm angle during a delivery—some of the most ideal modern-day traits in the class. 

4. J.J. Kohl - Iowa State

Regardless of drill, pure arm power stands out with Kohl. He throws with velocity even when not fully able to use his hips to power through his throwing motion. In addition to his big arm, Kohl showed good accuracy in hitting the stationary targets, as well as connecting several difficult end zone passes for touchdowns. Despite his 6-foot-6 frame, Kohl’s ability to move away from the line of scrimmage, then turn his body quickly and in the same motion fire a bullet proved to be impressive. 

5. Austin Novosad - Baylor 

As expected, Novosad was consistent and accurate throughout the first day of the event. He doesn’t have the strongest arm of the group, but he might be the most reliable. That said, his arm is nothing to discount either, and he can make any throw you need him to. Throughout the first day, he hit his targets and his velocity was crisp. A reminiscent comparison, at least through the first drill, was Clemson’s Cade Klubnik, SI.com’s No. 1 quarterback in 2022, and the winner of 2021’s Elite 11 Finals. Novosad will have to fight off some fierce competition going forward, but he’s off to a good start. 

6. Eli Holstein - Alabama

The big Louisianan powers through the football on the run and from the pocket alike. He allows targets room to go get the football on the sideline and/or up top where it’s difficult for a defender to reach. Excellent mobility once again proved true; evidenced by the all-time QB athletic testing record at the Las Vegas Elite 11 regional this spring. Holstein's arm strength is a plus from inside the pocket or on the move. He does not hesitate to make tight-window throws as he’s a confident passer. The Crimson Tide commitment looked consistent with short and intermediate passes regardless of whether he needed to throw the football hard or with touch.

7. Marcus Stokes - Penn State

Stokes owns some of the most natural arm talent among the group of passers and put it on display throughout night one, seen particularly in red-zone drills and when he was on the move. Like Arnold, Stokes is quite comfortable off a natural platform and he can trigger towards a target very quickly in the process. Taking juice off of the ball may be the next step in the future Nittany Lion recruit's development, though even misses came out relatively clean and with tight spirals attached. 

“I think I’ve improved most being calm in the pocket," Stokes said after the night's work. "I used to be a little jittery, I was very skittish. But I’ve grown to be very calm, and confident.”

8. Brock Glenn - Undeclared

Still considering Ohio State, LSU, Auburn, Florida State and TCU, Glenn was steady throughout the first impression in L.A. He holds his own in most categories, especially when it comes to efficiency, intermediate accuracy and prowess while on the move, and it showed up despite a loaded field on Tuesday. A verbal commitment could come at any point moving forward for one of the biggest 2022 recruiting risers to date.

9. Kenny Minchey - Pitt

There isn't a lot of flash to the Tennessee native's game, but there weren't a lot of misses on Tuesday either. Minchey has above-average size, arm strength and movement skills, something he puts together en route to efficient play in various settings. There aren't any glaring weaknesses to the future Pitt Panther's game on tape or in person, as the initial workout again confirmed. 

10. Chris Parson - Florida State. 

Strong in his lower half with a compact, yet quick delivery, Parson got better as the event wore on Tuesday. As the third hour of the competition came and went, his competitiveness also showed in showing emotion during the rail shot competition to close out the workout. Parson's timing and footwork clicked at the right moments to help hit on some of the top intermediate and even third-level shots we saw.  

11. Chris Vizzina - Clemson

Vizzina is one of the more technically-sound quarterbacks who works well within his frame and his mechanics, as well as anticipation for throwing windows, allow for great accuracy and velocity put into throws within the middle of the field. He’ll want to work on his passes outside of the numbers as they can get a bit too much air underneath them, but passes between the seams, specifically deep ones, are a thing of beauty.

12. Jaxon Smolik - Tulane

For not having planned to be at the event until the eleventh hour, replacing Tennessee commitment Nico Iamaleava (volleyball tournament), Smolik had an understandably slow start to the night. Few finished better, though, especially in the rail shot competition, where the Iowa native hit on more positive throws in the knockout-style tournament than any competitor at the event. His timing and deep drive proved consistent when all eyes were on him. The red zone, outside of the pocket drill was also a good run for Smolik Tuesday. 

13. Emory Williams - Miami

The recent Miami commitment showed a natural release from the pocket, when stepping into throws, or outside the pocket. A good athlete that quickly gained depth during his pass drops to help get into his throwing motion quickly. Williams had multiple back-of-the-end zone passes that were clean and on time. He has a soft touch for passes over the linebackers and in front of the safeties and drew consistent praise from the Elite 11 staff in the process.

14. Zane Flores - Oklahoma State

In addition to consistent intermediate-level accuracy, Flores worked the pocket and broke out of it without much wasted movement. Strong lower-body prowess enabled for relatively easy velocity despite the long workout, with some timely connections in the stationary department midway through the circuit. There appears to be plenty of raw arm talent and strong timing at Flores' side as a quarterback, too. 

15. Malachi Singleton - Arkansas

Singleton struggled throughout the night with short-field ball placement but found his footing testing the deep ball and going through two-read drills. His processing skills appeared sharp, in particular, during the latter drills and he paired his decision-making with good ball placement on passes in between the seams as well as to the corners of the endzone. We expected a better showing on the rail shot considering Singleton’s typically accurate deep-ball, but his performance there left something to be desired for when he’s tested on similar passes come Day 2. 

16. Jaden Rashada - Miami

Rashada had an up-and-down opening day, but rallied towards the end and finished very strong. His arm talent is undeniable, and his ball placement is without a doubt elite. He was a bit inconsistent throughout the day, especially on the move. It was difficult for him to string multiple good throws together, but he also made some of the best throws of the day as well. It wouldn’t be surprising to see him have a bounce-back Day 2.

17. Pierce Clarkson - Louisville

Another southern California competitor, Clarkson was among the most diminutive passers on hand and didn't have as much natural juice as others competing. However, his relatively long stride and quick trigger on out-breaking routes impressed at times, even working to his left side and against the grain. Intermediate attempts are where Clarkson looked to perform most consistently to open the event.

18. Rickie Collins - Purdue

When he sets his feet and fires, Collins can throw it on a rope. He also completed multiple passes along the back of the end zone when he needed to throw across his body to make the completion. Shortened his motion for passes to the flat. Ability to make the throws to the perimeter or in tight quarters.

19. Avery Johnson - Undeclared

Considering Kanas State, Washington and Oregon after official visits to each in the month of June, Johnson's long stride and athleticism showed when the passers were asked to move outside the pocket. Off-speed passes and second-level accuracy were strengths of the opening workout for perhaps the most gifted athlete among the competitors. 

20. Brady Drogosh - Cincinnati 

Plenty of work is ahead for the tall and lean Bearcat commitment, who played with good balance and footwork at times on Tuesday. Timing inside the pocket was where Drogosh looked the most comfortable and accurate. 

FanNation's Zach Goodall, Matt Galatzan and Brian Smith contributed to this report.  

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