The Nike Elite 11 Finals, the nation’s premier quarterback competition, took place this weekend in LA. After holding 13 nation-wide Regionals, the organizers selected 25 quarterbacks to participate in the Finals, and are dangling a chance to go to the renowned “Opening” at Nike HQ in Oregon for the top performers.
If you peruse the list of quarterbacks that made the final cut, you may notice one glaring omission: Canes QB commit, consensus top 10 QB, and top 75 national prospect Artur Sitkowski.
Listen. We understand the Elite 11 organizers have their own way of evaluating QB’s that are separate from the recruiting rankings and choose their guys completely off one day alone, the Regional competitions across the country that each prospect attends. It would be easy to explain this away as Sitkowski having an off day at his first Regional, which was in Orlando. But he also attended the Miami Regional, and from all accounts, dominated. As an organization dedicated to training and developing the best QB’s America has to offer, how can you justify turning down such a highly regarded prospect with the pure arm talent that Sitkowski possesses?
If there really was just 11 QB’s taken, it would be a different story....BUT we are talking about 25 guys! There’s no way you can convince me there’s 25 QB’s in the nation that are better than Artur Sitkowski right now. No way. No how. It truly is the snub of all snubs. Hey, maybe the Elite 11 is falling off. It happens to all the greats at some point.
All jokes aside, let’s go back to the Orlando Regional, held in February, and break down Sitkowski’s performance to see how this injustice could have been perpetuated.
From the Elite 11/Opening website on how quarterbacks and other prospects are evaluated at their camps:
Nike+ Football testing & training: After a proper, supervised “dynamic warm-up,” participants will have the option to test in the 40-yard dash, 20-yard shuttle, vertical jump and kneeling power ball toss – the four tests that factor in to the Nike Football Rating. Nike+ Football trainers then work participants through specific drills designed to improve athletic ability, speed and explosiveness. Here, athletes have the opportunity to tap into the secrets of proper workouts that have helped players make it to the NFL, including cone and ladder drills. This period educates participants on how to improve football-specific speed, agility and quickness movements, and also how to train specifically for the needs and requirements of their individual positions.
Position specific drills: Participants are separated into position groups (QBs, RBs, WR/TEs, OLs, DLs, LBs and DBs) to work individually on football skills and techniques with top-notch position coaches with college and NFL experience.
Position competitions: The offensive line and defensive line come together for a Lineman Challenge, while the QBs, RBs, WRs, TEs, LBs and DBs participate in half-field, 3-on-4 passing drills.
One-on-ones: Nike Football The Opening Regional concludes with one-on-one passing and linemen drills, which many say are the highlight of the camp.
Sitkowski got off to a rough start, finishing 11th out of 29 participants in the Athletic Testing and Training portion of the competition. This isn’t the craziest result; while Sitkowski has some athletic traits and can hold his own in these areas, he is by no means an athletic freak. He’s much more known for his pocket passing and ability to make any throw necessary in a high-level offensive scheme, which made him an ideal candidate to show out in the drills and competition portion of the camp.
By all accounts, Sitkowski did not disappoint in this aspect, being mentioned by 247’s Steve Wiltfong as among the quarterbacks that made an impression at the event, specifically in the competition portion.
IMG quarterback Artur Sitkowski was another imposing quarterback that heated up in the competition portion. A high up-side prospect that is strongly considering Miami, Wisconsin, LSU and UCLA among others.
Call me crazy, but I’d much rather have a quarterback that can make all the throws with the football and dominate in a competitive setting than one that runs a fast 40 and can toss a medicine ball far from his knees. But that’s just me. Other guys mentioned by Wiltfong that played well at the event, such as Penn State commit Justin Fields, Michigan commit Joe Milton, uncommitted Carter Bradley, and Auburn commit Joey Gatewood, were selected to make the Elite 11 Finals.
Sitkowski then participated in the Opening Miami Regionals the weekend after, again impressing in the drills and competition portion, but opting to skip the Athletic Testing and Training portion this time. In fact, he was the clear leader of all the QB’s in attendance and it wasn’t even close, according to our very own Cam Underwood.
Here’s one of his many beautiful throws at the event:
Sitkowski rollout 5. Really nice ball pic.twitter.com/FKxbG5O4Qi— Cam Underwood (@UnderwoodSports) February 26, 2017
At the end of the day, Sitkowski didn’t make the cut, for whatever reason. As a result, whoever wins the Elite 11 Finals will have an asterisk by their name as far as I’m concerned. Sitkowski will spend his senior season at IMG Academy making the Elite 11 organizers look foolish, and making many wonder how one of the cream of the crop at the position was overlooked in an event purported to be the representation of premier signal-caller talent in the nation.
For another look at Sitkowski, check out his High School highlights below.