Posted by Bryan Fischer
PISCATAWAY, N.J. - They came from far and wide (and even from north of the border). They came to throw. They came to pass.
But mostly, the over 700 players that attended the first Badger Sports 7-on-7 tournament came to compete.
The 32 team field that converged on Rutgers’ indoor practice facility had some of the most talented players from Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont and Canada. One of the most competitive groups of the day took place late in the afternoon, headlined by Red Lion Christian Academy and USC quarterback commit David Sills and defensive end Kenny Bigelow.
Despite the hype on Sills - he’s not even a freshman but has been committed to USC for over a year - Monroe (Conn.) class of 2012 quarterback Casey Cochran was the most impressive signal-caller of the group with a strong arm, quick release and a cannon on his shoulder.
“After the state championship game, I hurt my ankle so I really couldn’t do a lot of things,” Cochran said. “This feels great coming out here and working things. I try not to go crazy, I want to stay with my progressions. A lot of guys, they come out and they try and force some balls. That’s the biggest things, try not to force balls and go through your progressions.”
Cochran already holds a scholarship offer from Boston College while Rutgers and Connecticut could be on the verge of extending an offer soon. The 6-foot-1, 200 pound quarterback was particularly impressed with what the new UConn coaching staff has said. Cochran displayed good anticipation when throwing but does need to work on his balance, as he throws off his back foot and leans back sometimes.
Sills was nevertheless one of the top quarterbacks to throw Saturday. His 6-foot-3 frame is impressive and he certainly fits into the USC mold of pro-style quarterbacks. Most impressive is Sills’ knowledge of the passing game and leadership skills. Though he was easily one of the youngest players at the competition, he was calling out plays and making sure his receivers were properly aligned.
The one flaw in Sills’ game Saturady was that he forced several balls into coverage and threw three interceptions as a result - which may be, as Cochran said, a product of 7-on-7 competitions. It's easy to understand the hype around him when you see him throw (as the four or five cameras he almost hit with every dropback would attest).
Looking like a very good year for Northwest quarterbacks
After several down years for producing quarterbacks, 2012 is shaping up to be quite nice if Saturday's competition is any indication.
The PA Playmakers team actually had two of the better quarterbacks throwing in Bloomsburg (Pa.) Blake Rankin and Steelton (Pa.) Max Ward. The 6-foot-4, 200 pound Rankin certainly has the build of a pro-style quarterback and had good touch on several of his deep balls. His arm is not the strongest however, while Ward’s seemed like he was firing balls out of a rifle. Impressive wide receiver Greg Garmon caught most of what was thrown his way. Although he's not the fastest wide out, he does have good body control and attacks the ball when it is in the air.
2013 quarterback Kevin Olsen also stood out from the crowd. The younger brother of Chicago Bears tight end Greg Olsen, the 6-foot-3, 210 pound signal-caller could be one of the top quarterbacks in the nation, if not the Northeast. A little thin and somewhat hesitant in the pocket, Olsen was still one of the most accurate QB's in attendance. If he can refine his throwing motion into something a little more compact, he could be someone who racks up offers in the coming months.
Jersey City (N.J.) athlete Brandon Napoleon was also sharp in the pocket. Holding offers from North Carolina and Rutgers, he threw a nice, tight spiral and had a very powerful arm. Because of his size (6-foot, 170 pounds) he will likely be offered as an athlete at BCS-caliber schools but it wouldn't be surprising if he were giving a shot at quarterback in the right system.