Dan Hoffer had no clue what to expect.
The Stepinac quarterback had participated in a half-dozen combines and countless 7-on-7 camps. But when Hoffer arrived at New Rochelle High School early Sunday morning and saw bulls eye targets on golf carts and Phil Simms standing on the sideline, his expectation level changed completely.
“I was like ‘Wow.’ I actually got on my phone and texted my brother ‘This is ridiculous.’ I couldn’t believe it,” Hoffer said. “I was a little nervous at first. But once I got that first throw in, I felt comfortable.”
Hoffer, a rising senior, was one of 25 signal callers from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut to participate in the first Tri-State Quarterback Showdown, a competition that measured arm strength and accuracy.
The invitees to the event was a who’s who of the area’s elite who’ll be returning this fall, led by Kevin Olsen of Wayne Hills, who recently committed to Miami, as well as John Germano of Bergen Catholic, P.J. Walker of Elizabeth (N.J.), Joe Capobianco of Lawrence (L.I.) and Jack Massie of Staples (Conn.).
“It was a great experience just to be a part of something like this,” said Massie, who’ll be a junior in the fall. “A couple of these guys were pretty good. It taught me what I have to do to get to the next level and how hard I have to work.”
The competition, which will air on MSG Varsity in July, was hosted by Simms and former Giants great and MSG Varsity analyst Amani Toomer.
“The one thing I noticed overall today was how these kids are better prepared and more groomed than ever before,” Simms said. “Ten years ago I probably would have hated an event like this. But this means so much to the kids to be in the spotlight, be with their peers and be on TV, all of that is good for them. It will make them better because they’ll be more at ease on the big stage.”
The 25 quarterbacks competed in accuracy drills to start the day and were trimmed to 11 by the event’s judges, including New York Giants greats Simms and Amani Toomer.
Hoffer, Olsen, and Germano were among the 10 selected by the judges to advance. Walker was selected by Simms as the wild card 11 th player chosen.
“When I heard that Phil Simms picked me for the 11th spot, I actually got really relaxed,” Walker said. “That felt really good.”
The second round was measured the quarterbacks’ velocity using a radar gun, which Walker dominated with a 57 MPH throw of 15 yards. That was followed by a long distance pass, which Hoffer led with a 62-yard throw.
With the field cut to a final five — Germano, Hoffer, Walker, A.J. Otranto of William Floyd and Mario Biagi of Iona Prep — the last event was an accuracy competition. The quarterbacks had four throws at bulls eyes on moving golf carts.
Who won? You’ll have to tune in to the Tri-State Quarterback Showdown when it airs on MSG Varsity next month to find out.
All of the competitors, even the ones who didn’t survive the first cut, basked in the opportunity of such a prestigious event.
“It was eye-opening to be out here and see all of the talent on this field,” said John Jay-Cross River coach Jimmy Clark, who’s quarterback Tyler Keech competed in the event. “It’s good for football and this event and MSG Varsity have done a great job promoting high school football.”
Email Kevin Devaney Jr. at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @MSGVarsityKDJ