In the summer of 2003, high school coach Gus Malzahn and former Arkansas quarterback Jason Allen were looking for a way to showcase the top high school quarterbacks in northwest Arkansas.
Their vision resulted in the Northwest Arkansas Quarterback School, an event that helped quarterbacks improve their game, compete against other top local passers and garner attention from recruiters. The event was an instant hit as quarterbacks came from all over the region.
Six years later, the local event has blossomed into the national Top Gun Challenge. This summer, the TGC will hold 10 national events, in cities such as Chicago, Oklahoma City, Charlotte, Los Angeles and Seattle.
"The Top Gun Challenge is different than other camps. We create an environment of competition," Allen said. "We want the results to reflect a quarterback who did well mentally, physically and in the on-the-field skills.
"Beyond the competition, we strive to instill attributes that will last with each and every quarterback. We work hard at the leadership portion of our events. We feel that every quarterback is in a position of leadership; how they use that position is up to them."
Before each regional event, there will be 15 quarterbacks selected by the TGC staff and recruiting analysts from Rivals.com. But there will be five more "qualification" slots available, and the overall top 20 passers from each region will participate.
Malzahn has moved on to the college ranks – he's now the offensive coordinator at Auburn – but Allen and seven other regional directors have continued to build on the event.
Going into enemy territory to snag a highly touted recruit is tough enough. But to go into enemy territory to snag a highly touted recruit who has family ties to another rival school is even tougher. But that's exactly what Nebraska assistant Ted Gilmore did last week when he secured a pledge from four-star wide receiver Keeston Terry of Blue Springs, Mo.
Terry is one of the most highly coveted players in Missouri and is the son of former Kansas player Doug Terry, so the recruiting victory over Big 12 North rivals Missouri and Kansas has to be especially sweet for the Huskers.
Keeston Terry said Gilmore played a huge role in his decision.
"He really wanted me to keep in contact with him," Terry said. "I don't think any coach wanted me to call him as much as he wanted me to call him. They expressed how big of a need they had at receiver, so that was a big factor."
A Stanford surprise
Many people assumed Huntington Beach (Calif.) Edison three-star linebacker Jordan Zumwalt was a lock for Arizona State because both of his parents attended the school. In fact, Zumwalt almost committed to ASU after an unofficial visit in April. That's why his commitment to Stanford on Monday was shocking to quite a few people.
Zumwalt fell in love with Palo Alto on a visit to the Cardinal's "Junior Day" this past weekend. As a junior, Zumwalt had 111 tackles, three sacks, two interceptions, four forced fumbles and seven blocked kicks.
"The campus is ridiculous," Zumwalt said. "It's simply amazing. Plus, the coaches, they all seem like players' coaches. They get to know you. They make you feel important to them. And you can't beat the academics. You get a degree from Stanford, you are set for the rest of your life.
"I really like the coaches. They seem like pretty cool guys. I get along with everyone there, and I think I am going to fit in very well in their program."
Zumwalt wasn't the only big commitment for Stanford over the weekend. After the "Junior Day," four-star cornerback Louis Young of Olney (Md.) Our Lady of Good Counsel reaffirmed his commitment after backing away from an original pledge a few weeks earlier. The Cardinal also landed Houston Cypress Creek defensive tackle Will Hampton.
Take your pick
The debate has been raging for months about the top quarterback in the state of Michigan. Rivals.com currently has Joe Boisture of Saline High as the top passer in the state ahead of Devin Gardner of Inkster High and Robert Bolden of Orchard Lake St. Mary's. But many people believe Gardner and Bolden are the state's best.
While there might not be a consensus on who's No. 1, there is a consensus that all three have the talent to be special. That point was hammered home after each quarterback had a strong showing at this past weekend's Midwest Elite Camp.
"Boisture impressed as much in person as he does on film," said Rivals.com analyst Mike Farrell, who covered the camp in Wixom, Mich. "He's a tall, skinny quarterback with plenty of room to add weight. He sets his feet well, has good mechanics, good touch and accuracy, and sees the field well.
"Gardner has a release similar to those of Vince Young and Terrelle Pryor. His accuracy on Saturday was above-average considering his mechanics, and he threw some ropes downfield that were dropped by receivers. His frame is impressive, and he has excellent quickness and throws with velocity on the run.
"Bolden has a live arm, and he delivers the ball with pace and good spin. He has a tall, wiry frame and good feet. He is at his best on slants and post patterns, where he can just drop and sling it downfield."
• Three-star offensive lineman Anthony Gatti (6-6, 280) from St. Louis Parkway North has added two SEC offers, from Vanderbilt and Ole Miss.
• Cornerback Tony Grimes (6-0, 166) of Hollywood (Fla.) Hollywood Hills has become one of the hottest prospects in Florida over the past few weeks. He has received offers from such schools as Miami, Maryland, Michigan, West Virginia and many others. Now you can add Alabama to that list. "Nick Saban produces nothing but ballers and league-bound cornerbacks," Grimes said.