Tag:The Opening 2011
Posted on: July 22, 2011 2:45 pm
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VIDEO: More 'The Opening' highlights

Posted by Bryan Fischer

Plenty of talent was on the field at The Opening two weeks ago. Here's some highlights of day two featuring some coaching by NFL players, one-on-one drills and even some of rapper Ace Hood's concert for the players.

Image for MaxPreps Video.

Posted on: July 20, 2011 10:32 am
Edited on: July 20, 2011 10:38 am
 

VIDEO: The Opening Day 1

Posted by Bryan Fischer

The Opening took place two weeks ago up at Nike's headquarters in Beaverton, Ore., featuring more than a hundred of the top high school football recruits in the country. Here's some highlights from Day 1, which included SPARQ testing and the SPARQ Combine National Championship.

Image for MaxPreps Video.

Posted on: July 12, 2011 12:50 am
Edited on: July 12, 2011 9:49 am
 

The Opening: Top Defensive Performers

Posted by Bryan Fischer

Linebacker Kwontie Moore (Norfolk, Va.), committed to Virginia

Moore has great size for a linebacker and moved well side-to-side. He made one of the plays of the week when he took an interception at the goal line all the way back to the other end zone and outran some pretty fast offensive players. He's a steal for Virginia.

Linebacker Dillon Lee (Buford, Ga.), committed to Alabama

You wouldn't think someone could move as quickly and as fast as Lee, as big as he is, but his athleticism just jumps out as much as he jumps routes. He can stay with tight ends and even speedy slot receivers and cover a lot of ground. He's the perfect type of player who can drop deep in Tampa-2 coverage from the middle linebacker position.

Linebacker Keith Brown (Miam, Fla.), committed to Miami

Brown has the size and speed to be really good at the next level. It's surprising how rangy he is. He got to the flat quickly and was able to take away a lot of underneath routes just with his ability to quickly break on running backs and tight ends.

Cornerback Cedric Dozier (Lakewood, Wash.)

Dozier could have also played wide receiver and made this list, he's extremely quick and can really change directions in a split second. He likely could come in and play early at most programs at nickel back as he has what it takes to lock down opposing slot receivers.

Cornerback Tee Shepard (Fresno, Calif.), committed to Notre Dame

Like his cousin Deontay Greenberry, Shepard was dominant at times. He would get a little lackadaisical at times (one could interpret it as bored) and allow his man to get too far away from him before recovering. It's tough to get any separation from him when he presses from the corner position and he leaves little doubt he's one of the top defensive backs in the country.

Defensive back P.J. Williams (Ocala, Fla.), committed to Florida State

Williams is a smooth cornerback and plays the game effortlessly. He's got good speed and can hit that extra gear when needed. He's a ball hawk and just a really good defensive back overall who can play safety or corner if need be.

Defensive back Travis Blanks (Tallahassee, Fla.), committed to Clemson

If there was a ball in the air, chances were Blanks was around it. And if he wasn't picking them off, he was knocking them down. He nearly came up with four interceptions in his first game on Saturday and was just off the charts in terms of athleticism.

Cornerback Chris Bivins (Gainesville, Fla.), committed to USF

Bivins has done well on the camp circuit and showed he could compete with the best and the brightest at The Opening. He's someone who won't back down from anybody and sees the bigger receivers as a challenge. Aggressive and quick, he was really good breaking on the ball and deflecting it.   

Defensive end Chris Casher (Mobile, Ala.), committed to Florida State

During part of one-on-ones, Casher was pretty much impossible to block. He explodes out of his stance and got to the tackling dummy quicker than just about everyone. He can still add some weight but he has the frame to be a top flight end at the next level.

Defensive tackle Sheldon Day (Indianapolis, Ind.)

Day caught the eye of many with a great performance at the Ohio State Nike Camp might have been twice as good at The Opening. He was a beast up the middle on Saturday and could get around the lineman using either his strength or quickness. His first step is something that has plenty of programs excited about his potential.

Defensive tackle Ellis McCarthy (Monrovia, Calif.)

Day and McCarthy were 1 and 1a among the lineman all week and there were times you thought that McCarthy was looking like D-line coach Ndamukong Suh. The fact that he performed as well as he did on Saturday with a  bum ankle shows why he is the top guy at his position in the rankings.

Defensive tackle Korren Kirven (Lynchburg, Va.)

Kirven was overshadowed by some of the bigger names on the line but he nevertheless showed he belonged. He's got a good set of moves that he just needs to polish to be dominant but has all of the physical tools needed to be very, very good.


Posted on: July 11, 2011 8:04 pm
Edited on: July 11, 2011 8:18 pm
 

The Opening: the good & bad of an all-star event

Posted by Bryan Fischer

I'm glad I wasn't alone.

In talking with most of my colleagues at The Opening, we all pretty much had the same thought: This. Is. Great.

One of the biggest reason why Rivals, Scout, ESPN, 247Sports and CBS Sports/MaxPreps send reporters all over the country to cover camps and competitions, such as the one held on the Nike Campus this past week, is access. For four days, nearly 100 of the top players in the country were measured, tested, put through drills, played in 7-on-7 games, photographed, filmed and available to be interviewed. There should be over 20,000 words and hours of video from a majority of the players at The Opening on the Eye on Recruiting Blog alone.

As a media member, the event could not have been better.

As a media member, I also see why some people have serious concerns about events like The Opening.

The event was a collaboration between ESPN and Nike, who run most of the Nike Football Training Camps and Elite 11 quarterback competitions around the country. Nike paid players' travel costs and - depending on their respective state football association - gave them some free Nike gear. Just about every player was part of a group that saw a Nike presentation about their upcoming products and why said products are better than their competitors.

When people talk about "AAU Football," it's not necessarily all-star 7-on-7 events that come closest to that term, it's actually something like The Opening.

In the interest of full disclosure, I'm a fan of Nike's products (and Under Armour's and adidas'…) and jumped at the chance to go to the Nike Employee Store when offered. I don't think that any of that clouded my judgement of what I wrote or did, I was there to cover the event to the best of my abilities and I think that I did. There's a lot of good people involved with running The Opening and associated events, people who I believe have the best interests in the kids at heart. All that said, there's something at least a little unsettling about a company - even one as reputable as Nike - putting on this type of event.

Though I know what most of the NCAA enforcement staff looks like, I didn't see anyone in Beaverton but was told someone from the organization was on hand to look around. Everyone always asks me if I see "shady" people at recruiting events and to be honest, there was really only one person who I saw around the sidelines that looked out of place.

If Under Armour or adidas came to CBS Sports wanting to do something similar, I'd tell them to jump at it to be honest. Events such as The Opening are the future of football recruiting like it or not.

Do they contribute to a sense of inflated egos on the part of the players? Absolutely. Are they great events full of good competition? Absolutely. Do they lead to players getting scholarship offers based on their performance? Yes indeed.

Outside of banning events in the first place - something the NCAA could do quicker than you might think - the current model is actually pretty good right now. It's much better and cleaner than basketball and, despite what some might tell you, not headed down that slippery slope too quickly. In fact, I'd invite the conference commissioners and senior athletic administrators to come out and take a look at the events before the speak ill about them and casting all of them into one generic "bad for the game" category.

Are things perfect? Nope.

But it is the future as far as I can tell.

Posted on: July 11, 2011 4:13 pm
Edited on: July 11, 2011 4:40 pm
 

The Opening: Top Offensive Performers

Posted by Bryan Fischer

Quarterback Tanner Mangum (Eagle, Idaho), committed to BYU

Mangum was the top quarterback at the event and impressed with his strong arm and decision making. He's got a good release that was evident in the 7-on-7 setting and was probably the most accurate signal-caller on the field. He was a leader and was on the same page as his teammates early on, so it's no surprise he guided them to the championship game.

Quarterback Tyler Matthews (McPherson, Kan.), committed to TCU

One of the bigger quarterbacks on the field, he was a big guy who delivered a catchable ball right where the receiver was expecting it. He's got a strong arm that can get the ball downfield and displayed nice touch on corner routes and when trying to hit guys against a cover-2. He seems as if he'll be a perfect fit in Fort Worth with his skill set and football IQ.

Athlete Nelson Agholor (Tampa, Fla.)

One of the top athletes in the country, Agholor could play on either side of the ball but spent his time at The Opening as a receiver. He's got the size to be very effective and can really flash his speed and create space for the offense. The only thing that we didn't see was for him to take over during 7-on-7 play and dominate but he was certainly a top performer based what he showed last week.

Running back Johnathan Gray (Aledo, Texas), committed to Texas

It seemed as if Gray touched the ball on just about every series for his 7-on-7 team (fellow Texas commit Connor Brewer was the quarterback by the way) and he ended up showing great burst and change of direction as soon as he snagged the ball out of the air. Ranked at the best running back in the nation, Gray showed he was a complete package and someone Longhorn fans should get very excited about in Brian Harsin's offense in 2012.

Wide receiver Deontay Greenberry (Fresno, Calif.), committed to Notre Dame

Greenberry has put together two dominant performances in back-to-back weeks against national competition. He's athletic and fast and is one of the few players who stood out as really being able to take over a game. He was, quite simply, dominant and able to get any ball he wanted. He sometimes gets a little lazy running his routes, but his talent is off the charts.

Wide receiver Jaydon Mickens (Los Angeles, Calif.), committed to USC

Mickens almost looked as if he was on the JV compared to some of the players at the event but that didn't matter as he is a flat-out player. He turned in the play of the day Friday by zigging across the field several times and stopping on a dime. He's fast enough to pull away from just about anybody, and even if you think you're close to "tackling" him, he more often than not can scoot away.

Tight end Taylor McNamara (San Diego, Calif.), committed to Arizona

There were plenty of weapons on McNamara's 7-on-7 team, but he was its most consistent target. He's got the size to create match-up issues with linebackers and safeties alike. He's still rail thin but has the size and skills to develop into another great tight end in the desert. He gets off the line well and also has a solid pair of hands.

Tight end Sean Price (Citra, Fla.), committed to USF

Every time you turned around it seemed Price was catching a touchdown or making a big play. He's done well in these types of competitions, and against top talent at The Opening, he was no exception. He's got great size and, with is gigantic hands, seemed to nab everything thrown his way. Though he's not the fastest guy, he's got football speed and just finds a way to get open.

Offensive tackle Vadal Alexander (Buford, Ga.)

Alexander showed remarkable improvement from the Georgia Nike Camp over a month ago and was solid throughout the week. He was named position MVP and did so by rarely losing one-on-ones and showing off good athleticism for someone his size.

Offensive tackle Zach Banner (Lakewood, Wash.)

Easily the biggest player at the entire event, the 6-foot-7, 340-pounder was able to handle much quicker defensive ends surprisingly well considering that is something he normally struggles with. Banner was dominant in the run-blocking drills and though he didn't win every one-on-one rep, managed to move his feet well and keep his man in front of him most of the time.

Offensive lineman Josh Garnett (Puyallup, Wash.)

With so many tackles at the event, Garnett decided to move inside and get several reps at guard and he left many observers impressed. One of the calmest, nicest players off the field, he had a mean streak on the field and was like a brick wall. He's got the athleticism to play just about every position on the line and showed it during the event.

Offensive tackle Patrick Miller (West Palm Beach, Fla.)

Miller is tall and lean but surprisingly moved well side-to-side and handled fast, big defensive lineman pretty well. He still needs to get stronger but he more than held his own and showed off a bit of a mean streak during drills. There were times when he got a little bit off balance but for the most part, he was a difficult match up for all the defenders. 

Offensive lineman Curtis Riser (Desoto, Texas), committed to Texas

Riser was dominant throughout the entire week, and it was a bit of a surprise that he didn't get MVP honors. He was excited for each rep and had a good celebration whenever he stopped one of the defensive linemen. He's very big and certainly looks to be the part of a guard but still was able to move fairly well. The one thing that stood out was how powerful he was, often driving back the defensive linemen coming at him.

Posted on: July 10, 2011 1:34 pm
Edited on: July 11, 2011 4:28 pm
 

The Opening: Day 4 closes out all-star event

Posted by Bryan Fischer

BEAVERTON, Ore. -- As things wrapped up on Day 4 of The Opening, one couldn't help feeling a tinge of sadness on behalf of the nearly 150 athletes at the event. Knowing the end was coming and that they soon would have to hop on a plane home, many players couldn't believe the all-star event had come to a close. 

"It's a very humbling, lifetime experience," Yulee (Fla.) running back Derrick Henry said. "I'll never forget it. All this competition, the whole 150, it's a blessing. It's nice getting guys' prospectives on different colleges and stuff like that, it's been good."

As one of three sophomores at the event, Henry was just trying to soak in the event. Playing with some of the top players in the country, The Opening was a chance to learn from the best in anticipation of coming back next year as the elder statesman.

"This is my first time coming up here, and I'm starting to enjoy the whole thing," he said. "But next time it's going to be business."

The 6-foot-3, 225-pound Henry was one of the most impressive athletes, physically, at the event. Though he plays running back in high school, if he continues to grow, he might develop into a tight end -- a position he got reps at during the 7-on-7 portion of the event.

"It just gives me a chance to get out there and catch some balls and get some touchdowns," he said. "I'll do anything to get my team the win."

Though he was split out catching passes instead of running down hill, there's no question what position he wants to play at the next level.

"Oh running back, that's what I play," Henry said. "I'm just doing this because it's 7-on-7. You've got to do what you've got to do to get the ball."

The Opening also gave Henry a chance to talk with plenty of older, heavily recruited athletes such as Nelson Agholor, Terry Richardson and Dillon Lee just on his 7-on-7 team. Already solidified as one of the top players in the Class of 2013, Henry has been picking up scholarship offers at a good clip over the past few months.

"I got an offer from Stanford, North Carolina, Tennessee and some others," he said. "I know I'm over 50. It's a humbling experience. I thank god everyday for this opportunity. I just use it as motivation to keep working hard in the weight room and the classroom and the field. Hopefully I can give back to my teammates by using my talent and my name to get them opportunities for the young guys who are under (the radar)."

Although many had considered him a Florida State lean early on, it's another in-state program that has moved out in front nearly a year and a half before he eventually signs a letter of intent.

"Florida is my leader, then Georgia, Florida State and Alabama," Henry said. "I'm open to any school; it's just where I feel comfortable and at home at, that chemistry I have with the coaches and where my family likes."

Reeves down to two

With so many talented players on the fields at the Nike campus, tempers were bound to flare given the level of competition. But, surprisingly, things were mostly limited to some good-natured trash talking because of the bond the players had formed over the past few days.

"It's very competitive out here,” defensive back Armani Reeves said. “But they're all good guys. When we go inside the lounge in there, we're all family and have a good time. But when we come out to (the fields), that's the time to compete and that's what we do.”

Things have been competitive on the recruiting front for the Roxbury (Mass.) corner. Reeves recently narrowed down his list of schools to two and talked about both, starting with Notre Dame.

"They're a great school academically," he said. "Coach (Bob) Diaco, Coach (Brian) Kelly, they're trying to turn that program around and make it a championship school. When they talked they had a lot to offer. When they showed me around, the campus was beautiful and I got to hang out with a bunch of the players. I had a good time there.”

The Irish are not the only program in the running for Reeves' services, as the Nittany Lions are neck and neck with them in Reeves' eyes.

"As far as Penn State goes, it feels like home," he said. "Coach (Joe) Paterno, I talk to him every time I see him. We even Skype now. All of those coaches treat me like family and express how much they want me. I'm just enjoying the process and trying to think about everything."

Several recruits have reported they have Skyped with the coaching legend and like the others, Reeves feels it's a unique connection to one of college football's icons thanks to a bit of modern technology.

"Yeah it's pretty cool," Reeves said. "He was cracking jokes with me. He's new to the whole thing so when you have an old guy like him doing something like Skype, it's just fascinating. He was just talking and we forgot about recruiting, telling me stories and stuff. It was really fun, I had a good time."

The 5-foot-11, 185-pound defensive back returned from unofficial visits to both schools shortly before heading to Oregon for The Opening. While he is officially down to two schools, a timetable for a decision on which one he will commit to is up in the air.

"Hopefully I'll make a decision soon but if not, I don't mind waiting," he said. "I just came back from those visits like two or three weeks ago so I'm just taking this time enjoying my time out here with these fellas."

Elder getting closer to decision 

Proving that defensive backs can also have a pair of good hands, College Park (Ga.) corner Chaz Elder made one of the defensive plays of the day when he caught a beautiful over the shoulder interception in the end zone to prevent a touchdown.

“My teammate told me to watch for the corner,” Elder said. “So I went over to try and get over the top. I got over there a little to late, but luckily the wide receiver missed it and I was able to catch it.”

Coming a long way from home and making plays is something new for Elder, but the overall experience in Portland has been a rewarding one for the talented cornerback.

“It's been great,” he said. “This is the furthest I've ever been outside of Georgia. I like it. (The plane ride) is kind of long. It's very long but it's alright.”

One of the top players in a deep pool of talent in Georgia this year, Elder has more than 25 scholarship offers from major powerhouses, but he has narrowed his list to three schools.

“With (Georgia), I like the fact that me and Coach Mark Richt have a good relationship,” Elder said. “South Carolina, I like the fact that they're known for having good DB's. Plus I like the defense they run because it's similar to what I run now in high school. With Vanderbilt, they're upcoming and I could help change the face of the program.”

Vanderbilt is making news in the recruiting world by picking several major commitments, including one from Top 100 running back Brian Kimbrow. The momentum the school has under new coach James Franklin is something that matters to Elder.

“That's a big factor,” he admitted. 

Elder won't open up as to which of the three programs is out in front but plans to make a decision soon, likely in August before his senior seasons begins. 

Howard staying open

There were plenty of players who had fun at The Opening, but it was hard to top the excitement about the event that Miramar (Fla.) defensive back Tracy Howard had following a 7-on-7 win.

“It's been one of the best experiences of my life,” Howard said. “To come way out to Portland, Oregon, I know I haven't been this far from home. The only place I've been is the Bahamas on a cruise. It's definitely a blessing to get out here with the top talent and compete against those guys.”

A talkative player on the field, Howard doesn't mind finding a player on the opposing team and talking a little trash to back up his coverage skills

“Oh Sean Price,” Howard responds almost instantly about who he talks the most trash with. “We're good friends, it's not bad talk, we're just getting each other better.”

Though Howard has been leaning toward Florida for a good portion of the recruiting process, he's narrowed his list of schools he's considering and looking at all of the options equally.

“I'm just staying open right now,” he said. “I'm down to a few: Miami, Florida, Florida State, Alabama, LSU, South Carolina and Notre Dame.”

Notes 

-- Very impressive day by defensive linemen Sheldon Day and Ellis McCarthy. Though Day was named position group MVP, McCarthy was unblockable during one-on-ones and went around and through his man, all on a bad ankle. Aziz Shittu rebounded from a sub-par day Friday to perform well. Curtis Riser was the top offensive lineman of the group on Saturday to go with good performances from Vadal Alexander and Issac Seumalo.

-- No matter what position he played, Fresno (Calif.) athlete Deontay Greenberry was a flat-out player. From skying on jump balls in the end zone to intercepting passes during limited time on defense, the Notre Dame-bound Greenberry was consistently a top performer over all three days of competition.

-- Geismar (La.) safety Landon Collins was named the 7-on-7 MVP and overall MVP of The Opening. He was everywhere on the field and quite literally had too many interceptions to count over the two days of 7-on-7. He more than lived up to his billing as a top 10 player in the class of 2012 and might even be underrated based on what he has done this summer.

-- Another defensive back that stood out was Clemson commit and Tallahassee (Fla.) safety Travis Blanks. Blanks had two interceptions in the opening game Saturday (and nearly had two more) and continued his stellar play throughout the day. He is one of the most versatile defensive backs in that he's equally good as a safety and cornerback.

-- There weren't many of them, but the walking wounded on the sidelines generally sported cardinal and gold. USC commits Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick (stitches) and Jabari Ruffin (fractured wrist) were both out of action Saturday.

-- Team Alpha Talon, with honorary coaches Josh Freeman and Dwayne Bowe, won the 7-on-7 tournament. The team featured Bralon Addison, Nelson Agholor, Deon Bush, Landon Collins, Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick, Trae Elston, Justin Ferguson, Derrick Henry, Germone Hopper, Chad Kelly, Duke Johnson, Dillon Lee, Kaiwan Lewis, Steven Longa, Lamar Louis, Marcus Maye, Armani Reeves, Terry Richardson and Randy Uzoma.  

-- The overall offensive line MVP was Vadal Alexander while Sheldon Day took home the same honors on the defensive line. Offensive tackle Kyle Murphy and defensive end Jamal Marcus were one-on-one champions.

-- The 7-on-7 All-Tournament team was Travis Blanks, Cyrus Jones, Johnathan Gray, Deontay Greenberry, Marcus Maye, Bryce Treggs and Tee Shepard.

Posted on: July 9, 2011 9:01 pm
Edited on: July 11, 2011 4:30 pm
 

No surprise, Bryce Treggs commits to Cal

Posted by Bryan Fischer

BEAVERTON, Ore. -- There wasn't much drama associated with Bellflower (Calif.) wide receiver Bryce Treggs' recruitment. It was really a matter of when, not if, he would commit to California. One of the top players at The Opening on the Nike campus, the silky smooth athlete decided the event full of 150 of the top players in the country was just the right time for him to make public where he would be heading to school, announcing his choice Saturday afternoon on national television.

"I'm going to commit to Cal," Treggs told CBSSports.com. "Just my relationship with coach (Ron) Gould -- he's a great guy, and I can see myself being around them for four years.

"The Cal area, I can see myself living there for four years not only to just play football. The education was a big factor. It's the number one public school in the nation. It just felt like the right place, so I figured I might as well commit."

No one could be happier to hear the news that Treggs finally committed than fellow Bears verbal commit Zach Kline, who quarterbacked a 7-on-7 team at The Opening that took a loss at the hands of the speedy wide receiver.

"He tore our defense up," Kline said. "He's definitely their biggest guy offensively. Our defense was locked down, and somehow he found a way to catch the ball. He's just a great player."

"This is fun, we're having a little competition," Treggs said. "I was talking trash the whole game."

Many observers had penciled in Treggs as a Cal lean ever since he picked up an offer from Jeff Tedford because Treggs' father, Brian, was a former Cal receiver who also played in the NFL. Despite considering Arizona State, Stanford, Notre Dame and UCLA among others, the chance to follow in his father's footsteps was just too much to pass up.

"It's a big factor," the younger Treggs said. "Every time I go up there, everybody always calls me Little Treggs and stuff. I'm well known around the Cal area."

With Kline and Treggs officially headed to the same school next year, the two have already turned their sights on adding more pieces to the Golden Bears' recruiting class.

"Christo Kourtzidis, he's a good dude," Kline said. "I'm still trying to get Taylor McNamara, Kenny Walker -- he's a stud. Those guys and Cedric Dozier, that will be an unstoppable team. I'm really excited  about this recruiting class. Should be one of the best in the nation for sure."

Despite being a commit to the school for only a few hours, Treggs had no problem joining his future quarterback in spreading the word about what is going on in Berkeley.

"I'm trying to get Shaq Thompson and some of the other DBs I see out here," Treggs said. "I'm still doing a little scouting."

The 6-foot, 170-pound receiver is the third commitment for Cal's class of 2012. Treggs finished his junior year with 56 catches for 1,010 yards and 12 touchdowns.




Posted on: July 9, 2011 6:47 pm
Edited on: July 11, 2011 4:31 pm
 

VIDEO: Lineman one-on-ones at The Opening

Posted by Will Brinson

BEAVERTON, Ore -- As I mentioned Friday, some kids were lucky enough to have Ndamukong Suh as their coach during Nike's 7-on-7 camp, "The Opening."

Some kids were also lucky enough to have Russell Okung coach them.

And these kids squared off in the lineman drills that took place on Friday, before the actual 7-on-7 games. 

As you can see, the training paid off.




 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com