REDONDO BEACH -- Matt Barkley was feeling good -- and throwing the ball, well like Matt Barkley, Wednesday afternoon at the opening workout of the Elite 11 Quarterback Competition.And that was fine with a second MB here, Trojan commit Max Browne, assigned to the group of six Barkley was helping to coach as one of a half-dozen college quarterbacks here.
Matt Barkley is feeling good about the way he's throwing the football these days.
"It's the first time I've gotten to throw with him like this," Browne said of the day's work that had the 25 high school quarterbacks rotating through a dozen stations requiring different throws to the high school receivers running routes.The first thing that jumped out at Browne: "His consistency," he said of Barkley. Indeed, Barkley was consistent with his explosive, accurate, powerful and effortless throws. "How good is Matt Barkley," former USC quarterbacks assistant Yogi Roth, one of the directors of the competition the last several years, said after watching Barkley make all the throws. It was not a question.Barkley agreed that he was both feeling and throwig good. He credits it to a commitment "to be explosive with my release," he says as he rotates his torso with his ever-present football to show exactly what he means.It enables him to get the ball into places, that deep out for example or the quick-hitting seam route, quicker but with less arm effort. And it could not be more obvious."It's funny you should say that," Browne said in discussing what he was seeing watching Barkley throw up close. "That's something he was showing me at the end, asking me where my arm was ending up" (again with a torso-torquing demonstration) that had him finishing up pretty much straight up.Then Browne showed Barkley's suggestion that he turn much more strongly through the throw on his delivery as he ended up farther forward at the finish. Not so much arm, more shoulder turn and upper body. Browne liked the thought of that.And from a conversation after the workout, it was clear Browne thinks a lot about quarterbacking. And knows his stuff. He knew about how the player he patterns himself after, Peyton Manning, was considered the far less athletic prospect coming out of high school compared to then the strong-armed, multi-sport Tim Couch, who ended up at Kentucky.Or how Tom Brady had to emerge from the shadow of the baseball bonus baby and far more toutedDrew Henson at Michigan.His quarterback model, he said, was "probably Peyton Manning," the 6-foot-5 Browne was saying. "We have similar placement of the football and releases." And something else.
Max Browne is a young man who has thought a lot about what it takes to play quarterback.
Neither will win a 40-yard dash any time soon. But they have good feet. "I call them 'chatter feet,' " Browne says with a quick tap, tap, tap demonstration. It's not something that's a nervous tic, or a bad habit, he says, but the result of preparation and lots of working on getting his feet quick."You only have to be quick one step one way or the other," he says of having the ability to avoid the rush and get the ball off. "I take a lot of pride in my footwork and really work on it."And as hard as it is to award points and pick out the best quarterback, when players aren't necessarily asked to play to their strengths, there's a place for an Elite 11 Competition, Browne says."It all plays a part," he says. "The 7-on-7s are probably a better indicator but you still have to perform and the camps are the place you get to do that."You get to do some other things. With a couple of dozen high school receivers of different skill levels and speed, Browne agreed that maybe he has more different ways of getting the ball from here to there."I like to put touch on the ball," he says of making the same throw on the same pattern in three different ways to three different receivers. One is a bullet, another has plenty of air under it and the third splits the difference. "I like to mix it up."As for Barkley, he'll be back Friday after his early morning USC throwing session. And will join the other five college guys serving as counselors: Georgia's Aaron Murray, North Carolina State's Mike Glennon, West Virginia's Geno Smith, SMU's Garrett Gilbert and Florida State's E.J. Manuel.While Barkley can't comment on potential recruits, he was impressed with the overall talent here and how much better it is than when he was in high school. "There are a lot more guys who can play now."Browne, from Sammamish, Wash., Skyline, is in the top three coming in here with Penn State commitChristian Hackenberg of Fork Union, Va., Military Academy and Cooper Bateman, heading to Alabama from Salt Lake City's Cottonwood High School. The actual competition in the camp, which includes film sessions as well as onfield drills, opens officially Thursday and concludes Sunday at Redondo Union High School's Seahawk Bowl right off Pacific Coast Highway at Diamond.
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