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Courtesy McKee family
Tanner McKee, from Corona, California, one of the country's most sought-after quarterback recruits, made national headlines when he declined to compete in 7-on-7 competitions on Sunday at two prestigious national events where attendance was by invitation only.
Tanner has two or three inches on Tuttle and is leaner, but Tuttle is built more like an outside linebacker. McKee is a more mobile quarterback who has remarkable speed for his size, but he is a pocket passer. —Scout.com's Brandon Huffman, on Jack Tuttle and Tanner McKee

Is there any deep meaning in summer seven-on-seven tournaments for prospective college recruits?

Yes, if you are the spotlighted boys of summer and if you are one of three high school star quarterbacks who have ties to recruiting in the state of Utah.

Lehi’s Cammon Cooper, a 6-4, 202-pound commit to Mike Leach at Washington State, has dazzled with his consistency. Utah 2018 commit Jack Tuttle, a strong-armed, athletic and studious four-star phenom from San Marcos, remains loyal and true to Uteville after a ton of summer exposure. The nation’s top-rated uncommitted pro-style quarterback is 6-6, 220-pound Tanner McKee, a four-star pro-style recruit from Corona, California. McKee told me last week he and BYU offensive coordinator Ty Detmer text and speak frequently.

All three of these guys have had their time in the limelight this summer.

Both Tuttle and McKee have had spectacular showings at summer competitions. Cooper was on his way at a big Nike event until he was paired on the same team with a guy some label the nation’s No. 1 recruit, quarterback Justin Fields, a quarterback from Georgia. Cooper’s opportunities were limited.

So, do college coaches care about seven-on-seven performances? Head coaches say they don’t, but their assistants and recruiting coordinators consistently call national director of college football recruiting for Scoutrecruiting.com Brandon Huffman. They pump him for updates on recruits, commits, sleepers and underexposed prospects.

“They put more value on them than they admit,” said Huffman, who has talked to every Pac 12 staff and many other staff members of schools from across the country after these events. “They are anxious to find out what’s happened and who stood out.”

These seven-on-seven tournaments, like the Elite Eleven and The Opening, are everywhere from Las Vegas to Los Angeles, all over Texas, Beaverton, the Northwest and deep South.

Huffman has seen Tuttle, McKee and Cooper in action. He likes all three.

“Tuttle had an up and down at The Opening finals (Oregon), but up until that point he was fantastic. He was outstanding at every Nike seven-on-seven in the spring. He was excellent at the Elite Eleven finals in L.A. At The Opening, working out with the receivers, he was terrific. Until the finals at The Opening, no quarterback out west was as consistent in all events as Tuttle,” said Huffman.

McKee, who is LDS, made national headlines when he declined to participate on Sunday at the Elite Eleven and The Opening.

“He piqued everyone’s interest because he didn’t play on Sunday but it worked in his favor because he came out on Monday fresh and with no practice reps Sunday, he performed at a high level. To me, that was admirable … he earned respect for sticking to his guns on that issue. He came out Monday and led his team to touchdown drives nine times in two and a half games. He definitely caught attention. At the Elite Eleven on Sunday, he sat out the most crucial day for evaluations and picking guys for The Opening finals. He was able to risk not having that extra day to throw. That he was so remarkable at the Elite Eleven and then so good Monday at The Opening after sitting out Sunday again only elevated his stock on how good he is.”

In comparing Tuttle and McKee, two of the top-rated prospects in the country, Huffman describes Tuttle as a thicker athlete with a cannon for an arm, a stronger arm than McKee. “But McKee gets it down the field a little bit better. A year ago, Tanner may have had a stronger arm, but Jack has grown more into his body and become stronger.

“Tanner has two or three inches on Tuttle and is leaner, but Tuttle is built more like an outside linebacker. McKee is a more mobile quarterback who has remarkable speed for his size, but he is a pocket passer,” said Huffman, who called McKee an athlete similar to former Ute Travis Wilson, “only he is a more accurate passer than Wilson.”

Cooper was the only left-handed quarterback who made The Opening finals.

“The problem Cooper had at The Opening finals was that he was on the same team with the MVP of the event.

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“The Kellen Moore comparison is accurate. He doesn’t woo you with his arm strength, but he is bigger than Moore. He has that kind of three-quarter motion throw and gets the ball where it needs to be. You look at Washington State’s offense, that’s exactly the kind of quarterback they like. He distributes the ball very well and he’s a high football IQ guy.”

Seven-on-Seven performances? Yeah, they produce more than raised eyebrows among the collegiate elite.

You know Mike Leach, Kyle Whittingham and Kalani Sitake know exactly what kinds of summer action Cooper, Tuttle and McKee have had.