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April 18, 2010

QB Phillip Ely continues to grow, improve

Florida's most successful quarterbacks in recent memory (we're speaking of guys such as Tim Tebow, Rex Grossman, Chris Leak, Shane Matthews and Danny Wuerffel) had several things in common.

One of them was this: all won big at the high school level.

That is something Tampa (Fla.) Plant rising senior QB Phillip Ely certainly has done. He currently is 19-0 as a starter, played a prominent role on one state championship squad and was a starter on another.

Also, the 6-foot-1, 187-pounder has developed into nice college prospect.

Thus far, Ely has offers from the likes of Iowa State, Central Michigan and Ohio, to go along with strong interest from Arizona State and Wake Forest.

At Sunday's Gainesville NIKE Camp, Florida target Jeff Driskel of Oviedo (Fla.) Hagerty was named top QB performer. Ely was second in the voting.

"I loved the camp," Ely said. "I loved the competition (with Driskel). It was back and forth all day."

Driskel has a Gator offer. Ely, who had two uncles play for Florida and a sister who went there, does not.

Nonetheless, the Gators are talking to him a good bit. And the feedback from his recruiter, Florida defensive line coach Dan McCarney, apparently has been positive.

"They really like his film," Plant coach Robert Weiner said. "His size is the issue."

But, not as much as it used to be.

At the same event last year, Ely weighed only 161 pounds. On Saturday, he looked more fit -- and chiseled -- than ever before.

But, he added, "I've got to get bigger. It's as simple as that."

Ely displayed a strong arm and nice touch Sunday, and drew praise from camp instructor Browning Nagle, a former NFL quarterback.

"He's right there," Nagle said. "He's smart and has the willingness to learn."

Admittedly, Ely would love a Florida offer.

He said his relationship with McCarney is excellent, and he has been told Florida will be at Plant this spring to watch him -- and potential five-star prospect James Wilder Jr. -- in person.

"He's the best," Ely said of McCarney. "I really like him. You couldn't come across a better guy."

According to Weiner, Ely is on Florida's board. The question is, where?

"They just want to see him in the spring," Weiner said. "Then, we'll see. I think it's 50-50."


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