Elite 11: Texas QB steals the show

Duncanville's Keelon Russell was named MVP of Elite 11.
Duncanville's Keelon Russell was named MVP of Elite 11.

In an annual peek at future pros — and a harbinger of Heismans — Duncanville High’s lithe and lanky Keelon Russell stole the show this week at prep football’s prestigious Elite 11 quarterback challenge in Manhattan Beach, CA.


In an eye-opening upset, the dual-threat, four-star Texas phenom was named Elite 11 MVP out of a class of the top 20 senior prep quarterbacks in the country who made it through the regionals and into the finals.


After flipping his commitment from SMU to Alabama, this was just the most recent headline-grabbing moment for Russell, putting him on a list with some of the most successful college and pro quarterbacks in recent history.


He has not stopped snatching attention since coming off the bench as a 15-year-old sophomore at Duncanville High (TX) in 2022 to replace upperclassman Jameir Willis. Since then, Russell led Duncanville to a 29-1 record and two Texas 6A D-1 state titles.

The 6-2 ½, 185-pound Russell entered the Elite 11 as a four-star prospect, rated the No. 8 quarterback in the 2025 Class. Beginning Tuesday, he was the most consistent player in the intense competition.


He sealed the top spot in Thursday’s 7-on-7 competition when he threw five touchdowns. Rated in the 50s overall only a couple of months ago, Russell is now No. 33 overall and the sixth quarterback on NFL Draft Scout rankings — and on the rise.


“Accurate to the first two levels and gets the ball out fast,” 247Sports director of scouting Andrew Ivins said in his assessment of Russell. “Slides around the pocket with his limber movement patterns and has both the speed and agility to turn scrambles into back-breaking gains. More of a one-read anticipatory thrower at this stage, but isn’t afraid to plant his flag and take a hit as he scans the field. Has also proven to be a rather efficient distributor on the move with the touch to drop passes into tight windows. Should be viewed as one of the more exciting signal callers in the 2025 cycle.”


Watching videos of Russell throwing at the competition, I couldn’t ignore something about his game that reminded me of one of the nine players who won multiple NFL MVPs. But is this a good thing? We will get back to it; read on.


The Elite 11 is the premier prep quarterback showcase every summer. Out of the 32 NFL starters last season, 27 participated in the Elite 11 at some level. Sixteen of the previous 17 Heisman Trophy winners competed in either the Elite 11 Finals or a regional, highlighted most recently by Bryce Young (2021), Caleb Williams (2022) and Jayden Daniels (2023).

After grabbing the starting job at Duncanville in 2022, Russell completed 170 of 254 passes (66.9 percent) for 2,377 yards with 22 TDs and nine INTs. He also ran for 203 yards and three TDs while averaging 4.83 YPC.


Last season, Russell guided Duncanville to a 14-1 record and its second-straight Texas 6A D-1 state title. He completed 189 of 262 passes (72.1 percent) for 3,483 yards with 38 TDs and three INTs. Repeat only THREE interceptions. He also ran for 361 yards and six TDs while averaging 5.82 YPC.


Did something look familiar about Russell’s throwing motion? He has a quick release, but the motion is a bit flat and he doesn’t get his elbow up and throw over the top. History tells us it is difficult to change a passer’s motion significantly, even if you catch them as a prep. That said, look at this guy’s motion.


Just sayin’. Go ahead; you make the call in the comments.


St. Clair and plenty of competition


The 2025 Class No. 1 QB prospect, LSU commit Bryce Underwood of Belleville (MI) High, did not take part, and Tennessee commit George MacIntyre of Brentwood Academy (Nashville, TN), No. 16 overall and No. 4 QB, injured his hand, and did not attend.


But Russell had plenty of competition.


Among the notable competitors, Ohio State commit Tavien St. Clair, rated No. 11 overall and the No. 3 QB, also left a strong impression. His performance was a testament to the high level of competition at the Elite 11 event.


Per an On3 Scout:


St. Clair looked like the most accurate quarterback on hand throughout Day One at the Elite 11 Finals. The Buckeye pledge lived up to our expectations in this on-air environment, impressing with his smooth, replicable throwing motion. St. Clair dotted his throws for much of the evening. We noticed that receivers did not have to break stride, with many of the throws being right on their face. At 6-foot-4, 225 pounds, St. Clair is also one of the more physically imposing signal callers on hand. In a workout that can highlight deficiencies in a quarterback’s game as a passer, there wasn’t much to critique with the Ohio native.


Attendees from 247 Sports thought St. Clair was “very close” to Russell.


Here are the top 11, with comments from 247, On3 scouts:


1.  Russell


A dynamic athlete with one of the best on-field resumes in the class, yet he performance was still surprising as he stood out alongside some of his peers. Russell can rip the ball on tight lines to all three levels. He also can change his release and arm angles to manipulate coverages. If there's one finalist that absolutely put himself in the five-star discussion this week, it's Russell.


2.  St. Clair (NDS No. 11 overall, No. 3 QB)


Solid all three days and made things constantly look easy. He not only has ready-to-play size, but he possesses clean mechanics and is able to touch all different corners of the field. We loved how St. Clair was able to glide both inside and outside of the pocket and came away impressed with his ability to layer the football over the middle. In our eyes, St. Clair is the type of signal caller that you could drop into next year's NFL Scouting Combine and he would have scouts buzzing given the combination of his frame, mobility, arm and mindset. We have already had some discussions behind the scenes about him potentially moving to No. 1 our rankings and this week will keep them going.


3.  Husan Longstreet, Texas A&M commit, Centennial, Corona, CA (NDS No. 35 overall, No. 7 QB)


Credit Husan Longstreet for playing through pain all week. After injuring his foot Monday night during a private workout, the Elite 11 staff advised Longstreet to take it easy. The twitched-up athlete wasn't having any of it. A hobbled Longstreet came out firing Tuesday and had one of the better pro day scores on Wednesday. He also was crisp in his 7-on-7 game. Longstreet is going to need to learn how to not always throw a fastball, but he's got NFL velocity and is more than comfortable distributing on the run.


4.  Deuce Knight, Notre Dame commit, George County (MS) (NDS No. 35 overall, No. 7 QB)


A "streaky" passer, but he's starting to change the script. Knight had one of the most exciting pro days as he was able to drive the football to the perimeter like few others while also delivering some absolute dimes down the sidelines. Knight is far from a complete product, but he's the type of dual-threat talent that we would bet on as he's got rare athletic juice for the position. We are eager to see what he's going to do as a senior after a mixed junior campaign.


5.  Ryan Montgomery, Georgia commit, Findlay (OH) (NDS No. 188 overall, No. 13 QB)


A full-field reader who wins primarily with precision and accuracy. Even more bullish on what he can be at the next level after watching him roll and sprint out the past few days. Montgomery is a coordinated mover that serves up plenty of catchable balls on the move. We could see him thriving in a pro-style attack that's heavy on the play action as he can climb and put the ball on a dot.


6.  Tramell Jones, Florida St. commit, Mandarin (JAX, Fla) (No. 322 overall, No. 26 QB)

Statistical profile won't blow many away as he's less than a 60 percent career passer, but he proved to be one of the more dialed-in quarterbacks as his pro day and accuracy challenge scores ranked near the top. Jones did toss a pair of interceptions in 7-on-7 play, but those were the only real blemishes during an overall steady week. We exit the competition viewing him as a high-floor pocket assassin.


7.  Julian Lewis, USC Commit,  Carrollton (GA) (NDS No. 10 overall, No. 2 QB)


The youngest finalist after reclassifying and moving up a year and one of the smallest quarterbacks in attendance (6-0, 186). Surgical with his ball placement. Lewis had the highest pro day score on Wednesday and followed that performance up with one of the cleaner 7-on-7 games as he barely put the ball in danger. Lewis might not have a prototypical build, but he has the makeup of a high-volume, up-tempo passer that can pick defenses apart.


8.  Matt Zollers, Missouri Commit, Spring-Ford (Royersford, PA) )(NDS No. 31 overall, No. 5 QB)


Up and down week, so split on his 7-on-7 outing. If you love gunslingers, then Zollers is your guy. He threw an event-high six touchdowns to go against two interceptions. The turnovers were bad, but Zollers isn't afraid to take risks, which counts. He needs plenty of polish, but has one of the higher ceilings in the class as he's got the ideal blend of tools with his live arm, plus frame, grit and explosive lower half.


9. Bryce Baker, North Carolina commit, E. Forsyth (Kernersville, NC) (NDS No. 267 overall, No. 21 QB)


One of the biggest surprises of the week. A longtime three-star prospect, Baker was near the top of the pack all three days. His arm and feet are frequently in tune, which allows him to challenge tight windows at the intermediate level. Baker threw five touchdowns on Thursday. More importantly, he protected the football, which is also what he did high school as his interception rate ranks third-best amongst the finalists.


10.  Luke Nickel, Miami commit, Milton (GA) (NDS No. 282 overall, No. 25 QB)


Each day Luke Nickel got sharper. Nickel, who was dealing with an injury in his lower half, is very clean from a mechanical standpoint and is the type of quarterback that will throw wide receivers open. He might not have an elite arm or be a top-flight tester, but he's consistent in everything he does and is able to diagnose coverages better than most.


11.   Jaron-Keawe Sagapolutele, uncommitted, (NDS No. 725 overall, No. 44 QB)


Southpaw out of Hawaii definitely won some people over. Sagapolutele was the champion of the annual 'Rail Shot Challenge' on Tuesday. He was solid Wednesday, but really sent a message during his 7-on-7 game on Friday when he ripped dart after dart. Sagapolutele is going to need some seasoning, but he could be well worth the wait for someone as he's got the raw traits you want at the position.


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