MALIBU, Calif. -- You're never too old to learn as a college quarterback. Just ask Brandon Weeden.
The Oklahoma State senior, who turns 28 one day before the Cowboys' October visit to Texas, is working as a counselor to the high school quarterbacks this week at the Elite 11 finals.
But the five-day event at Pepperdine University also presents an opportunity to improve for the group of college signal-callers that includes Weeden, Boise State's Kellen Moore, Florida State's E.J. Manuel, Ryan Lindley of San Diego State and Kirk Cousins of Michigan State.
Former NFL QB Trent Dilfer, the head instructor in Malibu, offered Weeden a few throwing tips that may help him better enjoy his birthday weekend.
"Trent was helping me with balance and staying level," Weeden said. "All these high school quarterbacks are good players, but I can use the coaching, too. When you're out here with these [coaches], you've got to be a sponge."
The 6-foot-4 Weeden, drafted out of Edmond, Okla., by the New York Yankees in 2002, played five seasons of minor-league baseball before joining the Cowboys. He threw for 4,533 yards and 38 touchdowns as a junior last fall.
"You never want to quit learning," Weeden said. "At the quarterback position, you can never perfect it. The speed of the game is always going to get faster. It's organized chaos."
After Weeden stopped "bouncing" in the pocket, Dilfer said he did not see Weeden miss on a throw.
"He's all about learning," Dilfer said. "He was already really darn good, and he's gotten better."
Carroll addresses group
Pete Carroll knows a thing or two about the Elite 11 program. The Seattle Seahawks coach encountered a few Elite 11 products during his time at Southern California from 2001 to 2009 -- notably Carson Palmer, Matt Leinart, Matt Cassel, John David Booty, Mark Sanchez and Matt Barkley.
Carroll stopped by Pepperdine on Monday to address the high school players. His message focused on competition, said Yogi Roth, a former USC graduate assistant coach and a fixture on the field during Elite 11 workouts.
"He told them USC looked not so much for the best quarterbacks but the greatest competitors," Roth said. "That's how the No. 1 quarterback separates himself. Just the idea of being relentless. Every little thing counts -- be first in line, ask questions, shake hands. All those things matter, not just here but in the evaluation process for colleges and in the NFL."
As an NFL coach, Carroll was not allowed to watch a practice attended by the college quarterbacks.
Elite 11 alum talks leadership
Cassel, the Kansas City Chiefs QB and former backup at USC under Palmer, spoke to the quarterbacks on Wednesday about determination. He would know, as he is the only quarterback in NFL history to start in the league without starting a college game.
"There were coaches who told me I'd never make it in the NFL, [to] go out and get an insurance job," Cassel told the group.
He beat the odds, of course, escaping the shadow of Tom Brady in New England to sign a $62 million contract with the Chiefs in 2009.
Cassel recalled for the quarterbacks in Malibu a story of how Brady used to yell at him, encouraging Cassel to show emotion around his teammates and to carry himself differently than his teammates.
Cassel said he didn't understand at the time. He gets it now.
"You have to be a leader," he said.
Tanner Mangum (Eagle, Idaho/Eagle) continues to impress at the Elite 11 finals after showing well recently at The Opening in Beaverton, Ore.
The 6-foot-2, 195-pound Mangum, ranked 19th nationally among quarterbacks, won the Golden Gun award for throwing accuracy on the first and second days of competition in Malibu. For it, he wore a bright yellow jersey -- Tour de France style -- at practices on Tuesday and Wednesday.
"I wanted to come out here and show everybody that I'm not a one-day wonder," Mangum said. "A lot of it, being from Idaho, is to show everyone that we can compete up there."
Players from Idaho are largely undervalued, Mangum said.
"A lot of people, when they think about Idaho, they think it's just farmland and potatoes," Mangum said. "But you realize, when you go there, it's a great state."
A state with a college football power in Boise State. Mangum described the decision as difficult to turn down the Broncos in favor of a Brigham Young scholarship.
"It was tough," he said. "People can say what they want and think what they want, but you've just got to follow your heart."
At BYU, he'll leave for a two-year LDS mission next summer before starting his college career in 2014. Though it's three years away, Mangum said, he can hardly wait to join the illustrious BYU quarterback fraternity headlined by Steve Young, Jim McMahon, Ty Detmer, Robbie Bosco and others.
"Part of being a quarterback at BYU is that you get to know those guys," Mangum said. "They care about BYU football. You're not just a Cougar while you're there; you're a Cougar for life."
Mitch Sherman is a senior writer for ESPN.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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