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July 23, 2012
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REDONDO BEACH, Calif. -- California quarterback commit Jared Goff had an inkling on Saturday that the "free time" line on Saturday night's schedule would be anything but. Having watched Elite 11 coach Trent Dilfer throw a curveball at the last minute to last year's contestants -- an all-night new playbook study session -- and having already been through a surprise Navy SEAL workout on Friday, Goff was ready for anything. What he and the 24 other Elite 11 hopefuls got was a trip to see The Dark Knight Rises in IMAX.
"He was tricking us all night, saying, 'Oh, you guys think you're going to the movies, huh?'" Goff smiled. "But, I guess we were. It was a good movie -- a long movie -- and I fell asleep a few times."
Given the grueling week of long practices and high-pressure competition, Goff could be forgiven a few small naps. Less than 24 hours later, though, Goff was wide awake and beaming, as he became the eighth Bears quarterback recruit in 10 years to be named to the prestigious Elite 11, as Dilfer -- a former prot? of Cal coach Jeff Tedford -- barked out his name at the 20-yard line of the Redondo Union football field.
"It means everything," Goff said. "It means a lot. Working through everything that I've been through this week and coming out in the top 11, it's just fantastic."
Goff, USC commit Max Browne and Arizona State commit Joshua Dobbs all made the Elite 11, with Washington pledge Troy Williams standing as the only Pac-12 commit in attendance to not make the final group.
"Personally, I think it's the best conference for quarterbacks," Goff said. "It showed today with me, Max and Josh -- all good players."
Dilfer has now seen two straight Elite 11 QBs bound for Berkeley, including now-true freshman Zach Kline, who sparkled both at the Palo Alto Regional and at last year's event in Malibu.
"Jeff's on fire," Dilfer said. "I called him a while back, and I said, 'Well, you've got your fastball back.' Zach's a special kid, a special player, and I know he's very successful right now. I actually saw him there the other day. Jared's going to be a rock star. He's got more intuitive qualities than I know how to explain. He's special, and he was in the running for the MVP. He made one bad decision, and that cost him that on the fourth down play. That's how intense this was. It came down to really a decision here, little, tiny things. He's a rock star kid."
[MORE VIDEO: Goff Shines on Saturday]
Browne and Goff came into Sunday ranked second and third, respectively, out of the 25 quarterbacks in attendance, and while Browne helped his cause during the Pressure Cooker competition, Goff sputtered just a bit down the stretch.
"I was a little nervous just because of the way I performed in that last thing," Goff said. "But, I knew deep down that I did well enough through the whole week to be able to sustain my spot in there."
The lowest Goff slipped during the week was to No. 7, but after climbing back into the top five on Sunday, he was feeling a bit froggy during the final drill, after completing his first two passes for 25 yards.
"I just didn't stay disciplined like I had been all week," Goff said. "I was thinking, after it: 'I was making the right decisions all week, every single throw. I've made the right decision on every single throw all week, and those last two throws I got a little risky.' I got a little greedy, threw it deep, and it came back to bite me."
Goff, though, was steady throughout the week, showing a consistent release point and a quick motion. He wasn't as consistently accurate as he was at the Oakland regional event, but threw some of the better balls with the most frequency. Goff is, if anything, very relaxed, with a loose motion and good zip.
Goff and his Kentfield (Calif.) Marin Catholic squad have already been preparing for the 2012 season, and though Goff had to take this week off to travel down south, he's gotten quite a lot accomplished during the Monday-through-Thursday sessions.
"We start really going in about two weeks," Goff said. "After that SEAL training, I told my coach - he was here yesterday - I said, 'Our conditioning has nothing on what I just did.'"
Of course, the last thing that Goff needs to do is to lose weight. He has stretched 190 pounds out over his long frame, but he has the shoulders to add some more bulk, something he keeps trying to do, but to no avail.
Goff's father Jerry and his mother were in attendance, having driven down from the Bay Area, and the elder Goff -- a former catcher for the Bears before moving on to the Montreal Expos, Pittsburgh Pirates and Detroit Tigers in the big leagues -- still looks like he could hit a few out of the ballpark (he is ninth in career homers at Cal). Jared lamented that he got his father's height, but his mother's metabolism.
"I was the only one who ate before the SEAL thing, because I knew we were going to work," Goff said. "I had a protein shake and a protein bar, because I knew we were going to be running around. It wasn't as physically grueling as it was just mentally and emotionally. We weren't out of breath; we just could barely move."
For being one of the taller signal-callers in camp at 6-foot-4, Goff doesn't have a lengthy release at all. He won't dazzle with the heater like Kline, but he gets the ball where it needs to go, and gets it there on time.
"They're very different," Dilfer said. "What I will say is that both of them have a very high-functioning football IQ, which means, they see the pictures, they can process the information as it happens and it doesn't slow up their body, doesn't slow up anything. They'll both digest what Jeff does there, very well. Jeff will be able to go back to doing what he does best, and that's calling balanced football, put a lot on the quarterback to make decisions and handle the run game and protections and all that stuff. Both of those guys do a very good job of that."