Underdog Elite 11 Finals quarterbacks out to prove they belong

Luke Rubenzer - Student Sports

Which of the seven three-stars will show he belongs with the national elite?

18 quarterbacks have been selected to the Elite 11 Finals at The Opening 2013. Of those, only 11 are among the 22 quarterbacks currently rated four-stars or higher based on an average of the four major recruiting services (247sports, ESPN, Rivals and Scout). The other seven are rated as three-stars, but impressed the Elite 11 staff enough to earn the invite.

Quarterbacks are selected to the event based on a number of factors (at right). Of course, some players with the four-star tag were not eligible to be selected because they did not attend one of 13 regional events.

So does the Elite 11 staff of excellent quarterback coaches have a better eye for quarterback talent than the industry as a whole? Or will the recruiting industry's ratings hold strong?

The answer will probably be somewhere in the middle.

As I wrote 18 months ago in Take Early College Football Recruiting Rankings With A Grain Of Salt, recruiting rankings do get better with each passing year, but they are incredibly volatile and incomplete during the summer. Simply put, the recruiting industry needs early recruiting rankings to provide context for its content in the early parts of the recruiting season, and it is willing to be somewhat inaccurate, correcting mistakes later, if it means selling more subscriptions.

Here are the seven quarterbacks looking to prove that they belong with their fellow quarterbacks who already hold a four or five-star rating from the industry. Click on the player's name to see more information, including highlights.

David Blough, Carrollton (Texas) Creekview: The 6'1, 180-pound Blough is one of the major underdogs in the Elite 11. Small in stature, and with offers from only Memphis, New Mexico State and Purdue, where he committed, many have questioned his selection. Blough will come in with something to prove. Blough became the fifth invitee to the Elite 11 and 69th to The Opening when New Orleans Saints QB and fellow Texas native Drew Brees announced the selection via Twitter on May 6. The senior-to-be was All-District 10-4A last season after throwing for 1,777 yards and 17 TDs with only three picks. An outstanding student with a 3.9 GPA and 1130 SAT, he shined throughout the Elite 11 Regional in Chicago. On June 15 he announced he'd attend Brees' alma mater, Purdue. Blough is on Twitter at @David_Blough10.

Stephen Collier, Leesburg (Ga.) Lee County: Collier is one of the more intriguing recruits in the Elite 11. Urban Meyer and staff will be closely monitoring the results of the 6'3, 205-pound Collier. He is a raw but fast-rising QB recruit, passing for 22 TDs last season while rushing for 11 more. He is an outstanding student-athlete with a 4.2 GPA and 1680 SAT. He chose Ohio State over Boston College, Cincinnati, Louisiana Tech, Marshall and Wake Forest. Collier is on Twitter @Stephen5Collier.

Andrew Ford, Camp Hill (Pa.) Cedar Cliff: The 6'3, 185-pound Ford will be looking to prove he belongs with the known stars at the Elite 11 Finals and The Opening. Carrying a consensus three-star rating, he holds a single BCS scholarship offer. But Ford hit the double jackpot in Washington D.C., being invited not only to The Opening but also the Elite 11 Finals after doing well at the D.C. Elite 11 Regional and D.C. NFTC. The lefty passed for nearly 3,000 yards as a junior with 35 TDs and ran for another nine more. He committed to the Virginia Tech Hokies on Father's Day (June 16) over offers from UMass and Temple. Ford is on Twitter @Andrew_Ford7.

Morgan Mahalak, Kentfield (Calif.) Marin Catholic: The 6'3, 190-pound Mahalak is already widely considered one of the ten best dual-threat quarterbacks. But he'll be looking to show that the Elite 11 staff's faith in him was justified, and that he is better than his initial rating by the four major industry rankings. He was one of the top QBs at the San Francisco Elite 11 Regional and Oakland NFTC and was noted for his energy, arm strength and accuracy inside and outside the pocket. Mahalk committed to Oregon in late April over offers from Duke, North Carolina State and Oregon State. Mahalak is on Twitter @MorganMahalak.

Luke Rubenzer, Scottsdale (Ariz.) Saguaro: Rubenzer was one of the more controversial selections to the Elite 11 final. Just a consensus three-star recruit, with only one BCS offer, the 6'0, 185-pound Rubenzer will be looking to prove the Elite 11 staff correct and show that he belongs. Rubenzer was dangerous last season with his arm and legs, throwing for 2,834 yards and 36 TDs with just six INTs, while rushing for 1,184 yards and ten scores. He has won Div. III All-State honors the last two years and showed his athleticism at the Los Angeles NFTC when he put up a 97.83 SPARQ Rating including a 4.20 shuttle and a 39.5 foot power ball throw. After an impressive Columbus Elite 11, he committed to Cal on June 13. Rubenzer is on Twitter @LukeRubenzer7.

VIDEO: Don't miss the emotional surprise invite to the Elite 11 Finals that the staff sprung on Rubenzer.

Sean White, Ft. Lauderdale (Fla.) University School: The 6'1, 200-pound White is one of the more underrated quarterbacks in the country. But he has been steadily adding BCS offers, showing more arm strength than many thought he had, and staying accurate and consistent. White won Quarterback MVP honors at the Miami NFTC for the second year in a row. A Class 3A All-State pick last year while playing at Chaminade, he passed for 3,430 yards with 40 TDs and only six interceptions while rushing for six more scores. Also a standout at the Atlanta and Columbus Elite 11 Regionals, he has offers from a dozen schools including Boston College, Cincinnati, Hawaii, Houston, Syracuse, Wake Forest and West Virginia. White is on Twitter @SeanWhite_12.

Manny Wilkins, Navato (Calif.) San Marin: At 6'2 and 185 pounds Wilkins isn't an underdog based on his size, but holding only two BCS offers, he will be looking to prove that his selection by the Elite 11 staff over recruits with considerably more major offers was justified. But his stock has been on the rise. Wilkins was one of the top QBs at the San Francisco Elite 11 Regional Camp. He moved from Texas in the fall of 2011 and started the final four games before having a big junior campaign with 2,200 yards passing, 20 TDs and eight INTs. Also a talented basketball player, he has committed to Arizona State over Arizona, Colorado State, Utah State and Wyoming. Wilkins is on Twitter @Manny_Wilkins11.

Portions of the above biographical information provided by Student Sports.

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