Q&A with Elite 11 Head Coach Trent Dilfer

Former NFL QB Trent Dilfer is seen here working with the quarterbacks at the Dallas Nike Football Training Camp on April 7.

Former NFL QB Trent Dilfer works with the quarterbacks at the Dallas Nike Football Training Camp on April 7.

We caught up with Super Bowl winning quarterback Trent Dilfer today to ask him about this week’s Elite 11, where he’ll be the Head Coach directing traffic and pushing the 18 high school QBs in ways they’ve likely never been driven before.

A passionate coach who’s always bursting with energy, here are his insights into what he’s expecting from those who take the field and what he hopes they take away when they leave the Oregon-based event…

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StudentSports.com: First, what are you looking for in a quarterback?
Trent Dilfer: I’m looking for a guy who is fiercely competitive, but with a good temperament, someone who has transferable quarterback traits with coachability and a thirst to learn and a thirst for knowledge. He needs to have his thermostat of leadership presence, meaning when he comes into the room it changes the environment.

SS.com: One of your favorite sayings is, “Be a surgeon, not a butcher.” Walk us through what that means…
TD: It’s a fun analogy George Whitfield and I came up with to talk about today’s quarterback. So many are successful because they’re a bigger, better, badder dude living on superior athleticism and physicality.

The butcher has his sharp tools and hacks away so at the end of the day you get a ribeye. That’s not a bad thing! The surgeon, on the other hand is precise in his execution. The great ones do have the athleticism with the mind and soul, but while the butcher gets you a ribeye, the surgeon saves your life.

Dilfer wants the Elite 11 quarterbacks to leave the event with confidence and the ability to absorb, adapt and accomplish on the field and in life.

Dilfer wants the Elite 11 quarterbacks to leave the event with the ability to absorb, adapt and accomplish on the field and in life.

SS.com: How do you want these players to prepare for the Elite 11?
TD: The biggest emphasis going in is studying the playbook. It’s overwhelming and no one knows that better than me. I want the quarterbacks coming in to understand that nothing is easy. You made it this far, that means you have—and should-have big dreams, but there’s a big difference between “want to” and “know how to.”

The playbook will teach you how to go get it. It’s like learning another language. An example would be learning how to write a paragraph in Chinese after 2 1/2 weeks of studying. If I knew it would help me reach my dreams, I’d certainly learn to write a Chinese paragraph in 2 1/2 weeks!

SS.com: What do you expect from them on their first day there?
TD: They’ve seen the two years of TV shows, the tweets and texts saying, “Be ready to step it up.” They will be nervous, curious and, hopefully, they’ll be excited about themselves being able to take the hardest situations and rising above it. They should be excited that they might be one of those guys.

SS.com: What are your expectations for them when they leave the Elite 11?
TD: the biggest thing I want them to take home is the confidence and the capacity for growth mentally, emotionally and physically. They’ll have accomplished more than they ever thought they could and be capable in any arena of life to absorb, adapt and accomplish.

Updated: June 24, 2013

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