By: Jake Perper
The 2016 Tampa Quarterback Challenge, presented by DeBartolo Sports and the John Kaleo QB Academy at the University of Tampa’s Naimoli Family Athletic Complex was held on Sunday, Jan. 31.
Over 90 quarterbacks from the greater Tampa area took part in the event at the University of Tampa.
The participants, grades 8-11 (Class of 2020-2017) showed off their skills in a professional skills challenge similar to what college prospects go through as they prepare for the NFL Draft. The preliminary challenge drills included: Long Ball, Accuracy Throws, Throw on the Run and Fade Throws.
Eight quarterback finalists moved onto the elite portion of the challenge which featured the top two overall scores from each graduating class. The final competition, run by John Kaleo, presented these tests: Do the Math, Blind Throws, and the Gauntlet Challenge.
Jefferson’s Cade Weldon (Class of 2017) captured the crown of Elite Passer of Tampa with his impressive performances in the Long Ball, Accuracy Throws, Throws on the Run and Fade Throws on the way to the elite round where he became the top overall performer.
In his fourth year participating in the challenge, Weldon saved his best for last as he’s now the second straight rising senior to win the title following in the footsteps of Clearwater’s Garrison Bryant (2015).
Weldon transferred from Berkeley Prep to Jefferson following his freshman year. After suffering a season-ending knee injury in August, he says winning the Quarterback Challenge is something that feels really good.
“Blowing my knee out and just coming back, it helps out seeing the progress with how hard I’ve been working to get back to this level,” Weldon said.
With offers from six Division-I programs (Miami, Kentucky, South Carolina, Toledo, USF, Samford) and interest from West Virginia and North Carolina, Weldon has one focus in mind as he trains alongside Kaleo heading into his senior season.
“Just mainly on my mechanics,” Weldon said about training with Kaleo, his coach since seventh grade. “I usually get too tense when I’m throwing so he always tells me to relax and to rely on mechanics. I’m happy with how I did today.”
In terms of team goals, Weldon wants to make 2016 a special one.
“Winning a championship is a big goal of mine,” he said. “Obviously getting hurt this year and missing out it has made me real hungry to get back on the field.”
Complete results can be downloaded here: 2016 Challenge Results
Photos: 2016 Tampa Quarterback Challenge Photos (available 2/5/16)
Top Performers by Grade:
Cade Weldon – Jefferson High School
The 6’2”, 204-pounder led the entire group with 37 points in the preliminary challenge drills. He posted scores of 10 on the Long Ball and Escape Throws along with a nine on the Fade Throws which included back to back bulls-eyes and an eight on Accuracy. Weldon won the challenge with a tie breaker over Tucker Gleason (Class of 2020).
Chaddrick Cann Jr. – Dixie Hollins High School
A rising senior at 6’4”, 192 lbs, Cann flashed off his strong arm with the highest recorded Long Ball on the day of 68 yards. He used a score of 12 on the Long Ball, 10 on the Escape Throws and eight on Accuracy to generate a score of 34.
Gavin Denboer – Gaither High School
The 5’9”, 154-pound rising junior added the second highest score of the preliminary round, 34. He proved to be the most accurate passer on the day with a high-score of 14 on the Accuracy throws. Denboer also added scores of nine on the Long Ball and 8 on the Fade Throws on the way to the elite round.
Fred Billy – St. Stephens
A 5’9”, 185-pounder, Billy proved to be the second most accurate passer just behind Denboer with a score of 13 on the Accuracy throws. Billy also recorded scores of nine on the Long Ball and five on the Escape Throws. He had an overall score of 30.
Shaye Scott – Alonso High School
Scott, a rising sophomore at 5’10”, 163 lbs finished with a score of 24 in the preliminary challenge as he posted nine points on the Accuracy throws, six on the Long Ball and six on the Fade Throws.
Tyler Riddell – Chamberlain High School
The 5’10”, 142-pounder added 23 points in the preliminary round which included a score of eight on the Long Ball, five on the Escape Throws and seven on Accuracy. He had a Long Ball of 54 yards which led his class.
Tucker Gleason – Safety Harbor Montessori Academy
At 6’1”, 165 lbs, an eighth grader set to be a freshman, Gleason used a score of 23 points to advance to the elite round. He added eight points on the Long Ball, six on the Accuracy throws, six on the Fade Throws and three on the Escape Throws. He finished second behind Weldon in the championship as he added eight points in the Gauntlet and one in the Math.
Graham McDermott – Plant High School
The 5’9”, 164-pound rising freshman had a score of 18 points to make it to the elite round. McDermott had a Long Ball of 47 yards which led his class as he recorded points of six (Long Ball), three (Escape Throws), three (Accuracy) and six (Fade Throws). He was one of three Plant quarterbacks at the challenge alongside Kyle Trina (Class of 2017) and Isaac Nunamaker (2019).
Fun fact: Jesuit led the challenge in the total amount of quarterbacks with six (Class of 2017: Danny Boon, Shane Eilers, Class of 2018: Brendenn Flynn, Jake O’Donnell, Nicholas Vastano, Class of 2019: Nash Chiulura).