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NEW YORK -- The beauty of the Elite 11 regional camps is that stats don't matter. Neither do rankings. It's not always the competitor with the best offers or the family pedigree who earns the golden ticket to the Elite 11 finals in Redondo Beach, Calif. In fact, many times it's a fresh face with nothing to lose and everything to prove.
Of course, sometimes a top-rated recruit snags the honor, too.
That was the case at Saturday's New York City Elite 11 regional at Randall's Island Park in Manhattan, where Wayne Hills (Wayne, N.J.) junior Kevin Olsen took home top honors and earned a trip to the competition in July.
Olsen, rated the nation's No. 7 pocket passer and No. 77 overall recruit in the ESPN 150, was the top-rated quarterback at the event and the only signal-caller among the 60 competitors from 17 states and the District of Columbia who boasted an ESPN 150 rating.
Olsen also comes from a family of high football acumen. His brother Greg is a tight end for the Carolina Panthers, his brother Christian was a quarterback at Virginia and his father, Chris, is a successful coach for Wayne Hills.
Kevin Olsen is the fifth athlete to earn an invitation to the Elite 11 finals. Other finalists include Anthony Jennings of Marietta (Ga.), DeVante Kincade of Skyline (Dallas), Tyrone Swoopes of Whiteright (Texas) and J.T. Barrett of Rider (Wichita Falls, Texas).
When coaches at the event called his name as the MVP, Olsen simply grinned. He said he didn't know what else to do.
"There was nothing going through my mind," he said. "I didn't really know how to react. I just said, 'Thanks, Coach.' I couldn't stop smiling after that."
After the announcement, Olsen shrugged off cameramen and reporters to give his mom and dad a hug. He scolded his father for talking on the phone, then took a call from Greg before posing with his new prize in hand -- a ticket to California.
Olsen, who said right now he's considering Wisconsin, South Carolina, Miami and Auburn among a boatload of offers, was pleased with the result but felt he could have done better.
"I think I did OK," said Olsen. "There were some throws I'd like to have back right now, especially in the two-minute drill. But for the most part, I guess I did well enough for them to think that highly of me to bring me to California."
One of those coaches, former Boise State and University of Colorado head coach Dan Hawkins, an Elite 11 coach, praised Olsen, but said there are still areas for improvement.
"He did a nice job," Hawkins said. "You can tell he's very comfortable, and that's his edge. I'm this way with every guy, so don't take this the wrong day, but I think he can still improve. I think he can still improve on his footwork. To me it all comes down to footwork. You just cannot work on that stuff enough."
Still, Hawkins praised his attitude and his ability to make throws under pressure.
"I think it's his moxie," Hawkins said. "He's clearly very comfortable out here."
Brick by Brick
"There's going to be a lot of people who didn't stand with us who are going to be remembered for not standing with us,"
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