Texas vs. California QBs rivalry is surprisingly civil at Elite 11


BEAVERTON, Ore. -- If you were watching an NFL game from the stands or at home last season, chances were high that you would be seeing at least one quarterback that went to high school in either Texas or California.

Be it Drew Brees and Matthew Stafford, of the 51 quarterbacks that made a start in the league in 2013, 12 of them hailed from the Lone Star State. A further eight, such as Tom Brady and Colin Kaepernick, played high school football in California. While Pennsylvania, Florida and Virginia also helped produce multiple starters, none did so in the numbers department quite like two of the biggest football-playing states in the country.

So it should be no surprise that the prestigious Elite 11 quarterback competition that is playing out at Nike's World Headquarters this week is producing a similar dynamic. Texas Tech commitment and Stephenville (Tex.) signal-caller Jarrett Stidham has been atop the leaderboard for most of the competition. The fact that seven of the 18 quarterbacks invited to the event hail from California should tell you plenty about their class.

One would assume there would be a bit of a budding rivalry between the two groups, but the friction between the Jets and Sharks of quarterbacking isn't as tense as some would believe this year or in years past.

"You have to rep Texas, we play the best football in the nation," Allen (Texas) quarterback Kyler Murray said. "But there are a lot of cool California dudes though, I'm not knocking them at all. It's just Texas is the best high school football. They're all pretty good dudes and it's good to meet them."

"I've actually gotten to be pretty good friends with Kyler the past few days because Bosco and Allen kind of butted heads for the mythical (high school) national championship last year," said Bellflower (Calif.) QB Josh Rosen, a UCLA commit who is considered the best in the country at the position. "We've gone over the differences between Texas and California football."

This year the California crop, and specifically those from the southern part of the state, have turned up atop the rankings from recruiting services like Rivals, Scout and 247Sports in record numbers. Many believe it's the best group of signal-callers to come out of the area (and maybe any one region) ever.

Given the number of NFL starters who have passed through the Elite 11 (Matt Stafford, Andrew Luck, Teddy Bridgewater and E.J. Manuel, among others) in years past, chances are high at least a handful of the players this year will hear their name called in the NFL draft down the road.

As to which area will produce more? Well, that's only for time will tell, but there are numerous differences between the groups that coaches have picked up on over the years.

"Six years ago when I joined the staff, Texas 7-on-7 was really growing and you saw sophomores, juniors and seniors that could throw OK, but were really good athletes. Now they're starting to throw well at seventh, eighth and ninth grade and have been seeing Cover-2, under center versus in the gun, etc.," Yogi Roth, a former USC quarterbacks coach who helps run the competition, said. "The California quarterbacks have been doing that forever, but the difference is they've had personal quarterback coaches that have been more detailed-oriented.

"Now it's completely flipped and there's a real healthy competition and there's not as much of a difference. They might just be more athletic coming out of Texas."

Stidham and Murray are both dual-threat quarterbacks, while Houston pledge Ben Hicks from Waco is more of a pro-style signal-caller. None of them holds a candle in either area to camp counselor Johnny Manziel, however, who is in attendance helping out.

Rancho Verde (Calif.) quarterback and Florida commit Sheriron Jones, Alabama pledge Blake Barnett and Servite (Calif.) quarterback Travis Waller are among those from the Golden State who can use their legs more than others. The majority of guys from out West are more traditional passers, but all are mobile enough to pick up a first down when needed.

On the field this week, most have been closely grouped together with nobody among the 18 signal-callers really standing out from the crowd for an extended amount of time. When asked what might be the separation between the two, Barnett remarked that it is what's between the ears that gives the California kids a bit of an edge over their peers.

"I think it's a good mindset out here," he said. "The ones with the best goals are going to achieve the most. I think Southern California has proven that."

Chances are you'll hear more about quarterbacks from Texas and California in the coming months, whether it be the NFL side or the college one. Based on this year's Elite 11 and a strong number of quarterbacks in the class of 2016, that might be the case for years to come.

*Follow Bryan Fischer on Twitter **@BryanDFischer.*

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