BEAVERTON, Ore. -- The Opening has wrapped up for 2012 and 150 of the top recruits in the country turned in a terrific couple of days of work at Nike headquarters. With hours of competition in the books, CBSSports.com is taking a look at the top performers at each position, starting with offense.
|USC-bound Max Browne more than lived up to his ranking at The Opening.|
Browne was easily the top signal-caller at The Opening, putting some distance between him and No. 2, Shane Morris, on the final day. The five-star attacked the 7ON competition in a perfect manner by checking down after his first or second read was covered to his pair of speedy running backs and then taking a chance or two down the field to one of his wideouts. He struggled in the championship game but was close to flawless during the earlier pool and tournament play. He earns high praise mostly for his consistency at a high level and not having off series or games like the other quarterbacks. Browne showed he could make all the throws and used his arm strength to get the ball to his receivers quickly on out routes and upfield throws. It was also noticeable that he took some heat off his fastball on shorter throws to make the ball more catchable for his targets, a nice touch for a savvy quarterback that more than lived up to his billing as the top player at the event.
It is pretty easy to pencil in Morris as the second-best quarterback at The Opening because there was a significant drop off after him to the other four QB's. We've seen him in action a few times this year and we can't help but notice that his arm is much stronger than it was this time last year. He was the top guy during pool play but was hot and cold during the tournament go around, tossing a few interceptions and sailing the ball high at times. He did a good job of getting the ball out quickly but when he had to move on to other reads, that's when he started to struggle. There were some grumbles that Morris was the reason his team didn't win the championship but, frankly, they wouldn't have even been in a position to play for it if it were not for the five-star's precision passing most of the weekend.
|Running back Alvin Kamara was the focal point of the Field Generals' offense.|
Kamara and his running mate Ryan Green carried the load for most of the tournament for the 'Field Generals' team led by Browne and company. He is one of the quickest players in the country and showed great burst up field once he caught the ball in addition to turning on a dime when a defender was in front of him. The only catchable ball he dropped came in the championship game but for the most part, he was terrific taking short flat, stop and arrow routes and turning them into sizable gains. Few players enjoyed the event more than Kamara as well, who seemingly had the biggest smile all week.
Although he wasn't used like other running backs in terms of being a top option on plays, Elliott was nevertheless a big part of his team and a nice target for quarterback Cooper Bateman. He snagged some terrific catches over the middle and went high and low to grab the tough ones that others might have let go. He was one of the bigger guys on the field but still made plenty of moves to escape defenders and head toward the end zone. More than anything Elliott showed he was a complete back and a terrific get for Ohio State.
He teammates were big play threats for Max Browne all weekend, stretching the defense and more often than not, getting behind it for a long score. They were equally effective on short and intermediate routes but the spectacular over the shoulder catches they made every game earned the duo a spot on this list. Bailey was the top wideout at The Opening thanks largely to his consistently each day and never seemed to drop any easy catch. He was also a savvy guy that knew how to read the defense and adjust his route accordingly, a rarity even among the elite recruits at this event. Mitchell was the top guy during pool play on Saturday but seemed to not be involved I the offense as much on Sunday. Overall though, not sure any receiver has had as good of a spring/summer on the camp circuit than the USC-bound receiver and this might have been the only tournament he's lost all year to boot.
|Ryan Switzer was so productive he landed on the top performers list ahead of a five-star wide receiver.|
Laquon Treadwell may have taken a spot on this list but suffered from sub-par quarterback play that would have boosted his production even more than what it was. Yet as good as he was, it was hard to top North Carolina commit Ryan Switzer, who may have been the smallest guy on the field but was like a jitterbug with the ball in his hands. He dropped a pass or two he could have had but for the most part he caught everything thrown his way, including numerous passes where he ended up sandwiched between two guys and still came out with the ball. He is quick and deceptively fast, which was evident when he burned a few safeties for long scores.
Hunter's team had issues moving the ball all weekend but be seemed to have a knack at keeping his squad in it with a long touchdown. In one game on Sunday, he managed three scores of 40+ yards alone and, though he didn't seem to do a ton on routes under 15 yards, also grabbed some nice catches over the middle. To borrow a term from his father's sport, he was a home run threat on every play and had enough of them to be named overall 7ON MVP.
There's a reason Seals-Jones is the number one athlete in the country and he put on a show at The Opening as a nice warm up act for his senior season this fall. The first thing that stands out is simply his size at 6-foot-5 and 220-pounds. While he still needs to add upper body strength, he's got a great frame to do so and could wind up as a tight end if he bulked up even more. You could tell he hasn't quite been coached up about the intricacies of playing wide receiver but he's got really good hands and fantastic body control.
|O.J. Howard confirmed he was a five-star after being the top tight end at The Opening.|
Perhaps the easiest pick on offense was Howard at tight end. He caught everybody's eye on the first day simply because he looks like a million bucks and one player joked with one media member that he was a "10-foot tall tight end ." More than his size tough were his hands that could have been mistaken for oven mitts with the giant Nike gloves on them. He made one of the catches of the tournament by one-handing a touchdown in the back of he end zone and made routine plays look great. At full extension he can catch everything and clearly Alabama is getting a good one.
Devine wasn't in pads thanks to Georgia high school rules but that didn't prevent him from landing on this list. He carries some bad weight and needs to reshape his body over the coming months but he's the big left tackle-type every quarterback would be lucky to have on their blind side. His two best attributes are his kick-step to get back to speed rushers and his hand placement and leverage, which was the best of the offensive line group.
During drills on Saturday, Redmond was adjusting to the level of competition he was facing and you could tell that while he did ok, he didn't put it all together. On Sunday however, he was neck-and-neck with Ira Denson for top offensive lineman that day and pushed his way into the top performer group for the entire event. The highlight of his camp was pancaking Eddie Vanderdoes, the defensive line MVP, in the morning. Redmond could play either guard or tackle but looked like a starter in the interior line in college because of the way he comes off the ball and keeps leverage with opposing defensive tackles.
Top center was actually one of the more heated calls for top performer at The Opening as Georgia commit Brandon Kublanow certainly gave Lancaster a run for his money and didn't back down at all. The Northwestern commit got the edge as a top flight snapper who handled tackles that tried to get underneath him much more easier. His light feet really stuck out and he carries his weight well while being able to drive block a nose tackle if necessary.
|Denver Kirkland turned in his best performance of the year against some top defensive talent.|
The big-bodied tackle earned overall offensive line MVP after a very good week of work that was consistent more than anything. He lost a rep or two but impressed when he handled bigger ends and tackles such as driving back Florida commit Caleb Brantley on one play. He was a boarderline BCS-caliber offensive lineman earlier this year but has steadily improved everytime he goes out to play and could wind up as a very solid option for a highly regarded school. He still needs to turn some of his fat into muscle and learn the neuances of playing offensive tackle but he was very good at The Opening.
The offensive line one-on-ones MVP at The Opening, Denson was probably the one guy everybody wanted to see in action over the weekend and he didn't disappoint. He had the most dominating performance of the camp season earlier this year in Orlando and while he was that good, he was still the top offensive lineman by a good amount. Basically he was a stone wall in pads and the rare time he got beat was only because he overextended himself on his initial punch and allowed the opposing tackle to go right around him. He's more of a downhill run blocker then a shuffle back pass blocker at this point but is still a very, very good guard.
The Notre Dame commit was at his best on Friday when he handled pretty much everything that was thrown at him. The best part of his game is how he stays balanced and really works to get out of his stance. He had no problem with contact and used his hands really well against both quicker and stronger linemen. In addition, he did a good job of holding his ground when defenders were coming at him or pushing them around the quarterback.