SAN MARCOS, TX -- Situated on the banks of the Blanco River, Five Mile Dam Park hosted the San Antonio/Austin Red Bull Gamebreakers qualifying tournament on Tuesday in advance of the national finals in July.
Gamebreakers is not a typical 7-on-7 tournament -- the scoring rules are different, the games are shorter, third and fourth downs feature a "Red Bull rusher" who can pressure the quarterback, and a giant customized truck blasts hip-hop and houses an MC reporting scores and providing commentary throughout the games. It's 7-on-7, but with an attitude and a break-neck pace created by the abbreviated contests.
More so than the state qualifying tournaments in Texas, the Gamebreakers events are battles of attrition in the double-elimination format, eschewing pool play. So while the games are shorter, the qualifying events for Gamebreakers start in the afternoon and last well into the evening, with blown coverages and dropped passes mounting as fatigue sets in.
On Tuesday, it was Round Rock Stony Point and Temple prevailing to advance to the national event, which will take place in Dallas from July 11th to the 13th. The Stony Point Tigers advanced on the back of a last-second touchdown against Temple, which overcame a scrappy Georgetown squad in the subsequent elimination game.
Zach Allen, 2013 Temple quarterback -- The most accurate passer at the event, the Syracuse commit guided his team to a national berth with composed play. A technically-sound quarterback with a compact release and the arm strength to spin the football even on a breezy day, Allen overcame numerous dropped passes by his receivers without demonstrating an excess of frustration or chewing out his teammates, opting instead to keep putting the ball on the money and trusting his wideouts to come through.
Capable of throwing on the run in either direction, Allen also showed the ability to adjust RPMs to suit the situation, showing a deft touch on deep passes and increasing velocity on the intermediate routes.
Blain Kruemcke, 2013 Pflugerville quarterback -- An under-the-radar prospect who could see his stock increase as his high school transitions to a more modern, pass-heavy offense, Kruemcke doesn't have the game reps of many of his counterparts in a deep 2013 quarterback class in Texas, but doesn't show any ill effects as a result.
While defenses sometimes took advantage of his quick reads by jumping Pflugerville's quick-passing game, Kruemcke nonetheless was as decisive as any quarterback at the event, with an understanding of reading coverages belied by his lack of experiencing throwing the football during the fall. His wind up was a bit long prior to release, but otherwise he showed to skills to earn FBS offers when he puts similar performances on film in several months.
Jimmie Gilbert, 2013 A&M Consolidated outside linebacker -- One of the most physically impressive prospects at the event at 6'4" and a bit over 200 pounds, Gilbert showed off his ability to use his backpedal to drop into coverage on one early interception. A good athlete, the Consolidated defender often looked like he had an extra gear that he rarely revealed, but did break well on one short pass that would have gone for an interception had his hands not let him down.
With the frame to eventually reach 240 or more pounds, Gilbert is a bit of a tweener, but has the skillset to excel in a 3-4 defense.
Josh Stewart, 2013 A&M Consolidated wide receiver -- A basketball player for most of his life, Stewart has little experience on the gridiron, but it didn't stop him from making the most spectacular catches on the day, when he used the leaping ability he's honed on the hardwood to elevate over defenders and consistently prove himself a strong red-zone target.
At 6'4" and 175 gangly pounds, Stewart is thin in his upper and lower body, but has the shoulder width to add good weight at the collegiate level. That would help him better use his hands to create separation, as his overall athleticism isn't exactly lacking, but it isn't his greatest strength, either. In particular, Stewart needs to work on his explosion off the line and his route-running, especially with the precision of his cuts on hitches, deep comebacks, and square ins.
Latrell Martin, 2014 Pflugerville Hendrickson wide receiver -- The 6'1", 185-pound pass-catcher was the favorite target of his quarterback on the day and impressed once again after a strong showing at the Round Rock SQT several weeks ago. Martin was exceptional attacking the football away from his body -- an issue with many high school pass-catchers -- and used his height to grab the football in jump-ball situations.
The junior-to-be consistently created separation with his burst off the ball and his ability to threaten defenders deep before quickly throttling down and running precise routes for a receiver of his age and height. In fact, his cutting ability on deep comebacks was as good or better than any other receiver in attendance.
Arrion Springs, 2014 San Antonio Roosevelt safety -- The versatile Springs and his Roughrider teammates suffered an early exit from the tournament, but he did show off his ability to play both safety and cornerback on the day. Physical as a tackler and in coverage when the pads are on during the fall, Springs blazed to a 4.37 40 at a recent NUC combine and showed off that speed on Tuesday, with the ability to flip his hips and transition to blanket wide receivers.
At his best in press coverage -- his physicality drew the ire of Stony Point coaches in Roosevelt's first game -- Springs understands how to use his hands and natural strength to his advantage. The greatest area for improvement with him is his ability to track the ball in the air, as Springs gave up several completions when he had good coverage as the ball fluttered heading into the stiff southeastern breeze. The 5'11", 190-pounder is surprisingly without an offer as out-of-state schools target numerous 2014 defensive back prospects in Texas, but Springs may have been the best pure athlete at the event.
Xavier Conley, 2015 Pflugerville Hendrickson quarterback -- Another strong performer at the Round Rock SQT, Conley's passing ability will provide a major boost to a Hendrickson offense that was run-heavy during the 2011 season and consistently struggled to stretch the field.
Well-developed physically for a sophomore-to-be with a frame that will support continued growth, Conley was also composed for his age with a high release point that allowed him to get on top of the football and reduce his susceptibility to interceptions by keeping most of his short passes too low for defenders to impact.
Damian Lindley, 2015 Round Rock Stony Point quarterback -- One of a number of strong signal-callers in San Marcos, Lindley was limited in his reps, alternating positions with another Tiger quarterback. Lindley projects as a dual-threat quarterback at the next level, although his size is not yet prototypical at about 6'2" and 180 pounds.
Still, he has the pedigree -- older brother P.L. is a linebacker at Oklahoma -- and the long arms to torque the football. Throwing into a strong wind that impacted other quarterback, Lindley was consistently able to hit his receivers and didn't suffer the same issues with the ball fluttering and dying that other quarterbacks experienced.