Just 10 years ago, you'd see the type of athletes who worked out last week at Rancho Capistrano in south Orange County and you'd think tight end. With heights in the range of 6-4 to 6-6 and weights in the range of 220 to 250, that's what tight ends in college are supposed to be, not quarterbacks.
But the current college quarterbacks who worked as counselors at the 2003 EA Sports Elite 11 Quarterback Camp, produced by Student Sports, were indeed of the old stereotypical tight end size. And perhaps just as amazing is that several of the high school quarterbacks looked just like the college guys.
One of those is Californian Nate Longshore from Canyon High of Canyon Country. Nate is getting close to 6-5 in height and should be getting near 225 to 230 in weight. It was hard picking him apart at times from the University of Michigan's John Navarre, who is 6-6 and weighs 240. Their haircuts and hair color also are the same.
Longshore has only been playing quarterback for two years and has emerged this spring and summer as one of the top 15 college quarterback prospects in the nation. Last year, he passed for 2,100 yards and 18 TDs and also scored six TDs rushing.
"It's just amazing to be able to work on so much special stuff," Longshore said of his first three workouts at the camp. "I've learned a lot of drills that are going to quicken me up in all that I do."
With his 3.4 GPA and qualified SAT score, Longshore will have a number of colleges to choose from. UCLA has always done well with quarterbacks from the area and appears to be interested, although Drew Olson and Matt Moore both played as true freshmen last season. Longshore also has said he liked the way fellow Santa Claritan Kyle Boller improved in his last season at Cal.
When Longshore first assumed the role as Canyon's quarterback two seasons ago, the team struggled to a 3-7 record. Last year, that
reversed to 11-2 and with seven three-year starters this season you can say that expectations for the program are high.
But as everyone in the Santa Clarita Valley knows, Canyon will need to unseat major powerhouse Hart of Newhall (which has won 11
straight Foothill League crowns) before much respect heads its way. And as Longshore knows, Hart quarterback Sean Norton is pretty elite in his own right, even if he doesn't have the size that major colleges covet.
"He's one of the best I've seen at managing a game and in some ways he's as good as some of the guys here," Longshore said of Norton. "He knows how to win and how to get things done."
When the two teams play, all Longshore would predict was that it "would be a good game."
Canyon's turnaround last season was due perhaps even more to the guidance of head coach Harry Welch than to who was taking snaps. Welch returned to lead the program in 2001 after being away from the game for nearly 10 years. In his previous 11-year run, Canyon went 120-31-2.
"He’s pretty intense and we know he can do what it takes to get us to play to the best of our ability,” Longshore said. “He doesn’t want to win so much as you just do in the game what you prepared to do.”
Preparation for a top-notch senior year also has gone extremely well for the other California quarterback at this year‘s EA Sports Elite 11 camp, Corona’s Brian Hildebrand. He’s not as big as Longshore at 6-2, 185, but he’s a bit more mobile and like Longshore is learning the nuances of the game at a rapid pace.
“This has been a lot of fun,” Hildebrand said at the end of his third workout. “All the events we’ve done have been good and the practices have been very competitive.”
Hildebrand wasn’t even as well-known as Longshore at the start of the spring, but he had a breakout showing at the USC Nike Camp in April and followed it up with another strong outing at the Stanford Nike Camp in May.
“It was a little bit more of a pickup after the USC camp,” Hildebrand said. “But then after the Stanford camp, a lot of coaches were there, and I got a lot of calls.”
Hildebrand said he’s received offers from Oregon State, Colorado State and San Diego State and that Colorado was close to offering. He mentioned his favorites as UCLA, Arizona State and Colorado. He added that he plans to take at least a couple of recruiting trips before announcing a decision.
Six other three-year starters also are returning this season for Corona. But Hildebrand admitted it would be a difficult task to beat city rival Centennial, led by all-American running back Terrell Jackson.
“They’ve been so tough the last three years, so we just hope it’s a tough game,” Hildebrand said. “The other school in town, Santiago, also should be good with (tight end) Dale Thompson.”
One Santiago student that might be rooting for Hildebrand is his sister, Sarah. She’ll be a sophomore at the school and should be a member of Santiago’s varsity softball team later in the spring. It’s a team that figures to be one of the best in the nation.
The other high school quarterbacks that were chosen for the Elite 11 camp along with Longshore and Hildebrand were Rhett Bomar, Kirby Freeman and Robbie Reid of Texas, Cornelius Ingram and Drew Weatherford of Florida, Chase Patton of Missouri, Anthony Morelli of Pennsyvania, A.J. Bryant of Georgia and John David Booty of Louisiana (although Booty is going to be at USC this fall).
In addition to Michigan’s Navarre, the other college counselors are Miami of Ohio’s Ben Roethlisberger, Arizona State’s Andrew Walter, Virginia’s Matt Schaub and Stanford’s Chris Lewis. Eli Manning of Ole Miss canceled at the last hour.
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