• Ainslie Lee

2021 QB Carlos Del Rio leaves Gators excited after Elite 11

Photo by 247 Sports

After watching his cousin rise to football success, only to find himself in prison later, Carlos Del Rio knew what he wanted to do and how he wanted to do it. 

He wanted to play football. But he wanted to make it. 

Del Rio was six years old when he first started playing football. Like most football players his age, Del Rio bounced from position to position. Lineman, running back, wide receiver and running back were all tested by the Georgia native. 

However, by the age of eight, Del Rio’s coaches started to realize that maybe he belonged elsewhere on the field. 

“I used to play receiver, I used to run down the field and catch the ball and the coaches would always say to throw the ball back to the quarterback. And every time I did it, it would hit the quarterback right in his hands and it was a perfect spiral.”

From then on out, Del Rio settled into his new position under center. 

Through three high school seasons, Del Rio has tallied 4,655 yards and 40 touchdowns. The four-star prospect added an additional 666 yards and eight touchdowns with his legs. 

In 2019, Del Rio helped the McEachern Indians to a 12-1 season record, which was enough for the Indians to be ranked as the ninth-best football team in the State of Georgia. 

With such success, it’s no wonder multiple college football programs have offered the Peach-State prospect.

In his recruitment, Del Rio fielded offers from Michigan, Florida State, Louisville, Georgia Tech, Miami, Tennessee and Florida, among others. 

With the help of quarterback coach Brian Johnson and Dan Mullen’s resume of successful quarterbacks, the Gators ultimately won over Del Rio, leading to his commitment on July 26, 2019. 

Del Rio announced his commitment to Florida back in July of 2019. Courtesy of Del Rio's Twitter

“What helped me make that decision was the coaching staff,” Del Rio told GatorBait. “I spoke with the coaches before I committed. I actually got a one-on-one personal talk with Dan Mullen and a one-on-one personal talk with Brian Johnson. And the conversation was that I’m ready to commit and they told me once I get up there, the spot’s not guaranteed.”

And while most high school recruits would love to be guaranteed time off of the bench, that wasn’t the case for Del Rio. 

“I'm going to have to work for the position and compete to get the starting spot. And me being a competitor, that’s what I want to hear. That’s what I want in a college. I don’t just want a college to tell me that once I get there the spot is mine, the spot is guaranteed, you don’t have to compete for it. So every other school I went to, they told me the spot would be given to me. I didn’t like that.”

And while Del Rio’s competitive nature is sure to pay off upon his tentative arrival to Gainesville, he also put it to the test this last week as he competed in the Elite 11 Finals. 

Since 1999, the Elite 11 has been the nation’s premiere quarterback competition. It’s the high-school-quarterback’s Olympics, if you will. This past week, Del Rio joined 19 other Elite 11 finalists for three day’s worth of competition in Nashville, Tennessee. 

Heading into the competition, Del Rio told GatorBait that he had three goals:

“Some of my goals are to definitely make everyone out here better. Also, I want to nitpick and take back some of the coaching points from the coaches. Most importantly, I want to win it all.”

The finals finished up on Wednesday. And though Del Rio didn’t win the competition, he certainly turned heads. 

According to those in attendance, Del Rio definitely seemed to settle in over the three-day stretch. 

SI All-American placed Del Rio in the middle of the pack on day one, before really tipping its hat to the Florida commit on the second day. 

Day two’s action resembled a pro-day workout and ranked throws on a scale of 1-3, with a 1 being an uncatchable pass and a 3 being a “money throw” -- meaning it was thrown and timed accurately. 

Of his allotted 18-20 throws, Del Rio threw 12 “money throws”, which led the field. His 2.47 average rating earned him the top spot in day two. 

In day three’s “accuracy gauntlet”, the future Florida Gator put on the ninth-best performance of the day. 

When all was said and done, Caleb Williams, an uncommitted prospect out of Washington D.C. took home MVP honors. 

Surprisingly (and cause for much debate on Twitter), Del Rio was not listed as one of the “Elite 11”.

According to the Elite 11’s official Twitter page, 50% of a competitor’s assessment comes from high school film, while the other 50% of a competitor’s assessment comes from a player’s actual performance at the Elite 11. 

GatorsTerritory’s Zach Abolverdi tweeted, “A #Gators QB hasn’t been snubbed this bad since Rex Grossman in NYC.”

Meanwhile, in Carlos Del Rio fashion, the 2021 commit took to Twitter to give his take on the week. And Gators fans should be comforted by his attitude:

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