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June 26, 2004

Jake’s day: QB shines at Elite 11 regional

LAS VEGAS - Call him the comeback kid.

Lockport, Ill., quarterback Jake Christensen was solid Friday at the EA SPORTS Elite 11 regional workout, but Saturday's workout on the practice fields at UNLV showed why the 6-foot, 200-pound left-hander is considered one of the nation's best signal-callers.

Christensen was especially accurate, looked even better with his footwork, and proved to be the most consistent quarterback at the workouts for the second straight day.

"I don't want to make any excuses, but the wind was blowing my throws all over the place on Friday, and today the wind died down," Christensen said.

"With us whacky left-handers, you never know when something like that can affect us a little bit. But I just went out there and let it go today. I was able to put some nice touch on the ball and it seemed like I was able to make all of my passes count this time."

Christensen, who is committed to the Iowa Hawkeyes, was especially deadly when the quarterbacks went into situations where they had to read and react to what a defensive back was doing.

"I feel like I'm so much better when you get me in a game type atmosphere instead of just throwing it around in drills," he said. "That's what my game is all about, coming and showing what I can do when it counts."

Christensen picked the right time to step up.

With several more Elite 11 announcements scheduled for next week and only six spots left, the battle for those last remaining slots was fierce over the two days of workouts in Las Vegas.

"I feel like I did the best that I could do," Christensen said. "That's all that you can do."

For the second straight day, Fresno (Calif.) Edison quarterback Arkelon Hall looked to be the best quarterback at the workout. He displayed tremendous accuracy, his footwork was impeccable, his drops were great and he had plenty of velocity on the ball and completed about every type of pass quarterback coach Bob Johnson asked of him.

After emerging as a dark horse on Friday, Carlsbad, Calif., standout Sean Canfield had another solid day and put himself to be a serious contender for one of the final spots.

The 6-3˝, 203-pound Oregon State bound signal-caller had great drops, great technique, a super quick release and about everything else you want from an elite quarterback.

The one knock on Canfield is that he doesn't have the strongest arm, but he really doesn't see it as something that should hold him back.

"I can put some velocity on the ball when I have to," he said.

"I think I'm very sound in other areas of the game, and that helps me out a lot. I have very good mechanics, and I can put great touch on the ball and I have tremendous accuracy."

Stockton (Ariz.) St. Mary's quarterback Willie Tuitama had another tremendous workout and positioned himself to be a serious candidate for one of the spots.

His mechanics were very fluid, his arm strength was easily one of the best at the camp and he did about everything right both on Friday and Saturday.

After tearing it up at the Penn State NIKE Training Camp and then at the Elite Combine in New Jersey, Princeton (N.J.) The Hun School quarterback Domenic Natale struggled at times in both workouts. With a low release point, Natale's balls had a tendency to float high above the receivers.

Still, when he wanted to put some major-league velocity on the ball he was able to do that. He also displayed solid footwork, and with a 4.6-second 40-yard dash time he was easily one of the more athletic quarterbacks at the workout.

A few quarterbacks that likely won't be Elite 11 bound but are still solid Division I candidates had very good workouts Saturday.

West Hills (Calif.) Chaminade quarterback Chris Turner looked very good on Saturday and did especially well in the read and react drills. He also could put zip on the ball when it was needed. It's easy to see why teams like Illinois, UTEP and Boise State have offered him a scholarship.

Boise (Idaho) Timberline quarterback Russell Hill wasn't the tallest in the bunch, looking between 5-11 and 6-0, but he did do a lot of things right. He had plenty of velocity on his passes and his footwork was solid at times.

With interest from Oregon, Idaho, Idaho State, Boise State and Arizona, Hill could be a name to keep your eye on this fall. He definitely looked good enough to play somewhere for somebody on the next level.

For more coverage on the Elite 11, check out StudentSports.com.


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