Aden Chavez got a taste of the big city, and of deep dish pizza, too.
But the reason he flew halfway across the country had nothing to do with Chicago or its cuisine.
“I wanted to put my name out there,” Cibola High School’s sophomore quarterback said after what he described as his first visit to a large city.
Chavez last Saturday participated in the Elite 11 Regional Chicago combine for quarterbacks, which bills itself as a premier quarterback event.
Most of the quarterbacks who attended were from the Class of 2022. Chavez was among a small handful of QBs from the Class of 2023 who also were invited.
Top candidates out of the regionals can earn a spot at the Elite 11 finals next summer. Chavez said officials have not yet made any selections from the Chicago regional.
“The one thing I wanted was to not just put my name out there, but also the state of New Mexico, and say that there are kids from New Mexico trying to do the things I’m doing,” Chavez said. “(A lot of kids) there were shocked that a New Mexico kid was out there.”
The 6-foot-5, 190-pound Chavez was a stellar freshman for the Cougars, throwing for nearly 1,500 yards and 13 touchdowns in six games. A knee injury sidelined him in the second half of the year.
The one-day event last weekend was largely about passing skills: quick throws, three-step-drops, play-action, stepping up in the pocket, throwing on the run and the like.
Miami Dolphins rookie Tua Tagovailoa and Clemson standout Trevor Lawrence are among those who have participated in the Elite 11.
“It was big to get invited,” Chavez said, who said he thought he excelled.
“If anything,” he said, “I would say I was top 10 there. There was definitely a lot of competition there.”
In September, Chavez was in Las Vegas for Under Armour’s Elite Underclassmen Showcase. That camp is part of the measuring devices ESPN uses to rank up-and-coming QBs, and also a recruiting tool for Division I coaches.
Chavez earlier this year was rated as No. 37 among the top-200 pro-style QBs nationally in the Class of 2023 by QBHitList.com.
The showcase, which was held in northwestern Indiana, not far from Chicago, was attended was 42 QBs, largely from that area of the country.
Chavez said he paid strict attention to other QBs, looking for areas in which he might improve and potential drills he might take home to New Mexico.
“That’s one of the things,” he said. “I always just watch every player, every little thing. I go back and watch their film. … There’s always stuff to improve on.”
At the end of this month, Chavez said he plans to attend a Top 200 showcase for quarterbacks in suburban Phoenix. He will be allowed to bring one of his receivers for that event.
“My whole mindset is, get to a national level and be able to show (what I can do),” Chavez said. “Showing what you’ve got — in person.”