Twenty of America’s best quarterbacks in the 2021 class gathered in Nashville, Tennessee, for the Elite 11 Finals, a three-day event from June 29-July 1.
Closed to the public this year as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the event is often considered the country’s premier prep quarterback competition, and it has hosted numerous prospects who have gone on to successful collegiate and professional careers since its founding in 1999, including Florida Gator legends Chris Leak and Tim Tebow in 2002 and 2005, respectively.
The 2020 group was as star-studded as ever, featuring Houston, Texas four-star Dematrius Davis, Jr., an Auburn Tigers commit, IMG Academy five-star J.J. McCarthy (Michigan), and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania’s Kyle McCord (Ohio State), a fellow five-star.
One Dan Mullen commit, dual-threat four-star Carlos Del Rio, also made the trip to the Volunteer State to compete against this top competition and show off his skills.
After spending his first three years of high school at McEachern in Powder Springs, Georgia, Del Rio made the approximately 60-mile move east to Loganville to play his senior season at powerhouse Grayson, which is also the home of another 2021 Florida commit, four-star wide receiver Daejon Reynolds.
While he did not take home the camp’s Most Valuable Player Award — that honor went to uncommitted Washington, D.C. five-star Caleb Williams — Del Rio left a lasting impression with his performance over the three-day period, one that should make Mullen and quarterbacks coach Brian Johnson, as well as Gator fans, optimistic about the post-Kyle Trask era.
Day 1 of the event featured the attendees split into three groups, working with active college quarterbacks, such as Mississippi State redshirt senior K.J. Costello, Ohio State junior Justin Fields, and North Dakota State redshirt sophomore Trey Lance, serving as student-coaches.
Sports Illustrated’s All-American staff placed Del Rio at No. 10 in their rankings following Monday’s on-field work.
“Early on, the future Florida QB looked like one of the top handful of prospect performers,” the publication wrote.
“Even with a slight drop-off as the night progressed, he looked about as good as he has in this setting.”
The second day of the Elite 11 Finals resembled a mock pro-day, featuring each of the signal-callers throwing a series of 20 scripted passes to receivers. Each throw received either a rating from zero-to-three, with a three — also referred to as a “money throw” — being the best.
Averaging a 2.47 and recording 12 money throws, Del Rio topped Sports Illustrated’s Day 2 rankings.
“Del Rio set the tone from his first few throws and his accuracy and timing never slowed down through nearly 20 throws,” they noted.
“He was accurate to all three levels and his velocity never tapered off despite being one of the night’s final acts. His confidence grew with each throw and it showed in a big way. It appears the on-hand staff docked him points for revolutions per minute (RPM)/spiral consistency.”
McCarthy finished second in this pro-day environment, averaging a 2.44 and spinning nine money throws. Williams, McCord, and Gilbert, Arizona four-star Ty Thompson, an Oregon Ducks pledge, rounded out the top-five by all posting a 2.42 average.
The final day of the camp, July 1, tested the attendees’ accuracy by having them attempt to hit a stationary bullseye while throwing on the run. Like the day before, prospects were graded on a scale, this time one-to-three, eliminating the zero.
Tallying a 1.85 average on his 20 throws, Del Rio finished in ninth-place, still good for a spot in the top half.
Bogart, Georgia five-star Brock Vandagriff, committed to Kirby Smart’s Bulldogs, won this event with a 2.14 average. Pearland, Texas three-star Kyron Drones, an upcoming Baylor Bear, captured second place with a 2.09, and Santa Ana, California four-star Miller Moss, pledged to Clay Helton’s USC Trojans, completed the top-three with a 2.04.
Taking all three days into account, 247Sports’ Andrew Ivins placed Del Rio at No. 6 in his final rankings.
“This was the best we have seen out of Del Rio,” he began.
“The Loganville (Georgia) Grayson signal-caller flashed for us during his pro-day workout and had some of the most impressive throws of the night. He showed off one of the biggest arms in the event and followed it up with a strong day during Wednesday’s accuracy gauntlet.
“At 6-foot-3 and 205 pounds, Del Rio has a big frame, moves well and has some intriguing upside to him. The Florida commit is the nation’s No. 213 overall prospect.”
Vandagriff received the No. 2 nod from Ivins in his rankings, with fellow Southeastern Conference commit Tyler Macon, a three-star from East Saint Louis, Illinois who pledged to the Missouri Tigers on March 13, slotting in at No. 9.
Seizing the job following Feleipe Franks’ season-ending injury against the Kentucky Wildcats in September, Trask’s collegiate eligibility will expire following the 2020 season. Redshirt sophomore Emory Jones, who appeared in 11 games in 2019, is projected to serve as his backup once again, and the program added dual-threat four-star Anthony Richardson, a Gainesville native, in this year’s cycle.
Looking ahead to the 2021 class, Del Rio is joined by one other quarterback commit, Burleson, Texas, three-star Jalen Kitna.
Finishing 11-2 last fall, Del Rio, Reynolds, and the rest of the Grayson Rams are scheduled to begin their campaign on Aug. 21 against the Creekside Seminoles.