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February 17, 2013

A unique QB experience

Joey Elliott wanted to provide a unique experience for quarterbacks willing to work.

Featuring only standard QB drills and weight training wasn't going to cut it for the former Purdue quarterback's first Elliott Quarterback Academy in Indianapolis. So Elliott opted for quarterback-specific workouts and "chalk talk" sessions, to go along with the traditional drills.

The twist has produced good feedback and success during the six-week camp for high school kids that meets on Sundays at Brebeuf High School on the North side of the city.

"There's always people who will say, 'I'll teach you how to throw the football.' What we do in the weight room is by far the best part about the camp," Elliott said before gathering the group of about 20 kids for the first session on Sunday. Another 20 would be in Group 2 later in the day. "Our names aren't big enough to just say, 'Hey, I'm Drew Brees, I'm Peyton Manning, let's run a quarterback camp' and you'll get 1,300 kids. You have to have some way your camp separates you from everybody else. It's the workout. The actual physical workout separates us from the rest of the camps.

"We're taking the stuff I do now and how I train on a regular basis. You can't just go in and do bench press all day long. I barely ever bench press anymore. It's functional training vs. Olympic. I still want these kids to go to their high school weight room and do what their coaches say because that builds team unity, but once a week, I want them to think about being a quarterback. That's what we are."

Elliott has showcased a QB-specific workout that focuses on the players' hips, core, shoulders and footwork. The participants worked in a circuit on Sunday, using ropes to get shoulder work before moving to crunches for the core to footwork drills and then drop-back and shuffle drills with Elliott and his fellows coaches attached at the hips with a resistance band.

Elliott was at his enthusiastic best during the latter drill.

Before latching on, he clapped and got hyped, then barked out instructions to the participants. He was always quick to offer specific pointers - "keep your knee open," "use your legs not your arms." He kept encouraging, "Let's go! Let's go!" He offered high-fives and even launched into a jump-and-bump with one high schooler.

During a self-imposed break, he even danced a bit to a song pumping over the weight room's speakers.

"I love it," he said. "It's full throttle. The kids get everything out of me. I have a good time doing it. Obviously, one day I'll be too old running around like a kid, but right now, I really do enjoy it."

But Elliott didn't only ooze energy.

He also flashed some knowledge, too.

For the first time during the camp - Sunday was Week 5, the final one is on Feb. 24 - Elliott and fellow coach and former Colts backup quarterback Jim Sorgi brought the campers into a classroom for a "chalk talk" session.

Elliott broke down the basics of Cover 1 and Cover 3 defenses - Cover 2 and Cover 4 are next week - and went briefly over defensive fronts. Sorgi stepped in with pointers, too, on recognizing coverages, and both used a white board to diagram while participants scribbled in notebooks.

Some of the information was too much - the campers admitted they hardly look at the fronts, whether it's an "over," "under" or "Okie" - and Sorgi also went on a tangent about Cover 3 vs. Cover 6 and how that turned into a debate he had with Manning.

But, for the most part, the participants seemed to like a new aspect of the camp.

And it's not a bad deal to have professional or retired NFL QBs sharing what they know. Former Boilermaker and Colts QB Curtis Painter also is a coach in the camp, but he didn't attend Sunday.

"You get kids who go to quarterback camps and all they do is work on drills and techniques and we're going to teach them the workout form of it first, break it down in sections, a little bit of classroom work. What's better than working with guys who played at Purdue and Wisconsin in the Big Ten and played in the CFL and the NFL, somewhere you ultimately want to get to?" said Sorgi, who met Elliott while both worked out at St. Vincent's in Indianapolis.

Elliott has plans to expand the camp.

He'll hold a one-day camp in his hometown of Evansville soon, and next year, he hopes to have another six-week or so camp in Indianapolis, Evansville and West Lafayette. The goal is to have three sessions of about 20 or so quarterbacks apiece, small enough to still offer intimate one-on-one work while also expanding the reach.

And with the feedback Elliott has been getting from this effort, the numbers should grow.

He said he got a text message after a first-timer came last week - campers aren't tied in to coming every week - that said it was the best quarterback workout he'd ever done.

Roncalli junior Cam Smock, who has attended since the first week, would tend to agree.

"The weight room and the chalk talk we did (Sunday) is unique to this camp, something I've never done at another quarterback camp," Smock said. "The coaches are all high-energy, highly intelligent. Not only do they know what they're talking about, but they can also demonstrate it for us. So it's good to have coaches that can show you as well as tell you what you need to do."

Copyright, Boilers, Inc. 2013. All Rights Reserved. Reproducing or using editorial or graphical content, in whole or in part, without permission, is strictly prohibited. E-mail GoldandBlack.com/Boilers, Inc.

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