Posted on: July 24, 2011 1:23 am
Edited on: July 24, 2011 9:35 am
Posted by Bryan Fischer
ORLANDO -- Gridiron Kings, the final recruiting event of the summer, kicked off at the Wide World of Sports complex Saturday afternoon near Disney World, featuring some of the top talent in the country.
Divided into four regions, the players from the Southeast continued their impressive dominance of the event, going undefeated in the first two games of pool play in an event the team has won every year since its inception.
"It's been a great experience so far, I'm playing with some of the best talent from the Southeast," Fairburn (Ga.) defensive back Joshua Holsey said. "We're playing against everyone from around the country and that's a great experience. We're having fun and since we're winning, it's really fun."
The Southeast lucked out in its two wins, however. The deciding touchdowns in each game came with less than a minute remaining, but the find-a-way attitude was just part of the spirit the athletes from the South exuded.
"Our offense just brings us back and our defense just tries to do what we can to stop the offense from scoring," Holsey said. "We all pretty much know each other from The Opening. We all have a close bond, either in the locker room or on the field, it's just like playing with each other (for years), we know what each other does and likes. That's the greatest thing."
Though most of the players at Gridiron Kings are already committed to a school, that didn't stop the Auburn-bound Holsey from trying to get a few players to join him on The Plains.
"Yes, I'm trying to get as many recruits to come to Auburn as possible," Holsey says without hesitation. "Me, JaQuay (Williams), we always talk about getting the best guys. We want to go down there and win, we're trying to win the national championship ourselves. We're trying to build a class that can go down there and compete and have fun."
Holsey has been committed to the Tigers since May and points to one thing above others as being the reason he is firmly a part of Auburn's recruiting class.
"Just the coaches," he said. "They're really nice to me. The players, the whole facilities, it just feels like a family and a place where I can spend the next four years there."
Adams close to decision
If there was one team really looking forward to toppling the Southeast, it was the West squad. Westlake Village (Calif.) cornerback Ishmael Adams helped the squad to a 1-1 mark, with the lone loss coming thanks to a pass that was tipped by a defender right into the hands of a Southeast receiver for a score with less than 30 seconds left. Despite the close loss, spirits were high throughout the day for a dangerous squad come the knockout round.
"It's a great time with all the fellas, just hanging out," Adams said. "We're putting in work."
Adams and his West teammates are closer than the other three regional teams in part because they've seen each other early and often this summer.
"Just from camps and doing all these different things, we're very comfortable with each other," he said. "The chemistry is there. We're looking to do well."
Doing well also includes a bit of trash talk between the squads. For the West, according to Adams, that means shouts of "West Side All Day," or "West Side is the Best Side." He is also pretty talkative on the field with his teammates about what to expect from the offenses and didn't mind talking about his recruiting either.
"I'm very close," he said of a decision. "I'm still going to take all my official visits but I'm pretty sure with where I want to go right now. I'm taking my visits to see what the other schools have. I want to make the decision before I go into the season."
Holding offers from most of the Pac-12, Adams has always looked to stay somewhat close to Southern California and has narrowed down his list to include programs with strong ties to the area.
"UCLA, Cal, Oregon, Colorado and Arizona State," he said were his finalists. "UCLA and Cal, they're on me real big, then ASU. I've also always talked to the Oregon coach and he's told me he's not really hard on calling me every day. He just let me know that he wants me at the school and if I want to come, it's my decision."
Adams added that fellow West teammate Bryce Treggs, who committed to Cal two weeks ago, was heavily recruiting him for the Bears.
-- Tampa (Fla.) athlete Nelson Agholor wasn't supposed to be at the event but was a late -- and impact -- substitution for the Southeast squad. He's a fluid athlete who was a favorite target on offense and could really get off the line. He's tremendous at safety, but the way he can influence a game on either side of the ball, it's no wonder schools are just recruiting to get him on campus and then figure out a position later. He said he didn't want to talk recruiting and instead wanted to focus on what happened on the field.
-- SMU commit Robert Lewis and Texas A&M commit Trey Williams were the two most impressive players out of the backfield. Lewis was able to find soft spots in the defense and exploit them at all three levels of the passing game. Williams had two highlight plays when he shaked and baked his way down the field for a big gain and then followed it up with a touchdown on a seam route.
-- Tight end Sean Price continues to impress this summer. The Citra (Fla.) product was once again a matchup issue for linebackers who either couldn't handle his speed or couldn't handle his size. He has a good release off the line, but it can get better, which will only make him more dangerous in the passing game. Price made one of the best catches of the day when he dove for a ball and caught it one-handed for a touchdown.
-- 2013 quarterback Shane Morris had a bit of an up-and-down day. He wasn't as sharp as he normally was in 7-on-7 settings, sometimes lapsing when making an easy throw and turning it into an incompletion. The lefty didn't have the athletes that some of the other quarterbacks did but he still should have performed better.
-- Texas A&M commit Matt Davis was one of four Aggies in Orlando and just flat-out moved the ball downfield for the Southwest team. He doesn't throw the tightest spirals, but he moves the chains and gets the ball to the right receiver.
-- Boise State commit Marcus Rios had a nice day and grabbed a spectacular interception off a deflection versus the Southeast team.
-- It's going to be tough to get past the Southeast team when they have players like defensive backs Chaz Elder and Travis Blanks. The pair hooked up on an interception with Blanks tipping the ball and Elder pulling down the turnover. The pair simply were ball hawks all evening.
-- The top wide receiver in the country, Texas commit Cayleb Jones, went down with a hand injury early in the day. Fellow Longhorn Thomas Johnson made sure he wouldn't be missed with a terrific day. He has great hands, runs good routes and catches everything.
-- The more athlete Ronald Darby plays defensive back, the more he looks like a top-flight safety prospect. The talented athlete has speed and burst almost unmatched and does a really good job of focusing on his man and reading what he does.
-- It was a very good day for Scottsdale (Ariz.) athlete Davonte Neal. There's still debate as to whether he's best suited for offense or defense and he played both equally well on Saturday. He's still a bit stiff in his hips when he turns and runs at corner but he nevertheless was an impact player on both sides of the ball and made several plays in the secondary.
Tags: Arizona State, Auburn, Boise State, Bryce Treggs, Cal, Cayleb Jones, Chaz Elder, Colorado, Davonte Neal, Gridiron Kings, Gridiron Kings 2011, Ishmael Adams, JaQuay Williams, Joshua Holsey, Marcus Rios, Matt Davis, Nelson Agholor, Oregon, Pac-12, Robert Lewis, Ronald Darby, Sean Price, Shane Morris, SMU, Texas, Texas A&M, The Opening, Thomas Johnson, Travis Blanks, Trey Williams, UCLA
Posted on: July 11, 2011 4:13 pm
Edited on: July 11, 2011 4:40 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
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
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.”
-- 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.
Tags: Alabama, Armani Reeves, Aziz Shittu, Bob Diaco, Bralon Addison, Brian Kelly, Brian Kimbrow, Bryce Treggs, Chad Kelly, Chaz Elder, Clemson, Curtis Riser, Cyrus Jones, Deon Bush, Deontay Greenberry, Derrick Henry, Dillon Lee, Dillon Lee, Duke Johnson, Dwayne Bowe, Ellis McCarthy, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Georgia, Germone Hopper, Issac Sumalo, Jabari Ruffin, Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick, James Franklin, Joe Paterno, Johnathan Gray, Josh Freeman, Justin Ferguson, Kaiwan Lewis, Lamar Louis, Landon Collins, LSU, Marcus Maye, Mark Richt, Miami, Nelson Agholor, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Penn State, Randy Uzoma, Sean Price, Shledon Day, Skype, South Carolina, Stanford, Steven Longa, Tee Shepard, Tennessee, Terry Richardson, The Opening, The Opening 2011, Tracy Howard, Trae Elston, Travis Blanks, USC, Vadal Alexander, Vanderbilt
Posted on: July 9, 2011 1:17 am
Edited on: July 11, 2011 4:33 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
BEAVERTON, Ore. – Day three of The Opening could not have turned out any better for the assembled campers as wall-to-wall 7-on-7 action and a lineman challenge took place on a picturesque day at the Nike campus.
After NFL players and Nike coaching staff members drafted teams from the nearly 150 players at the event on Thursday night, the pressure was on to gel quickly during round-robin play all day Friday. One of the consistent playmakers at the event with his blazing speed, fluid routes and soft hands was Tampa (Fla.) athlete Nelson Agholor.
A threat at multiple positions on the field, the talented Floridian was a touchdown threat every time he touched the ball on offense. Despite standing out on the field, it was hard to get him to talk about himself off it as he personified the definition of a team player.
"Yeah, I hope we have a good one the next day. We're ready to go and play hard," Agholor said. "We've got a great team."
NFL stars Josh Freeman of Agholor's local team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Kansas City Chiefs wideout Dwayne Bowe were the honorary coaches of “Team Alpha Talon.” The 7-on-7 setting provided the players they picked a chance to spread the field and allow players such as Agholor to go up and make plays.
"We were blessed with two great coaches that put a bunch of athletes on the team," Agholor said. "We're going to do well. There's not one bad guy on our team. Everyone on our team is really good."
Featuring quarterback Chad Kelly (committed to Clemson), receiver Bralon Addison (Texas A&M) and running back Duke Johnson (Miami) among others, Agholor's team was one of the best in the field. Boasting players from 10 states, the all-star squad was an opportunity for Agholor and others to bond with players they had only heard about.
"These are guys you want to compete against everyday,” he said. “They say everyone around the nation is getting better, these are the guys that they're talking about. Now we're all together having fun and winning together."
Ranked 22nd overall in the MaxPreps Top 100, schools such as Florida, Florida State, Miami, Texas and USC are heavily pursuing the talented athlete as both a receiver and defensive back. With so much attention on the recruiting trail, Agholor is almost to the point where he narrows his list down to a more manageable five to 10.
"I have sort of an idea of a shorter list," he said. "That's between me and my coaches and parents right now. We're going to work something out and hopefully narrow it down soon.
"There's many things I'm looking for. When I first started recruiting, it was all about people and their morals, that was always number one. Academics is number two because I feel like there's a degree out there for everyone, it's up to you to go get it."
In terms of a decision, that will be awhile for the five-star athlete.
"I think I want to sign on National Signing Day," Agholor said. "I really want to think this all through. Schools know, who I'm in contact with, they know what type of interest is coming in and if not, I'm going to make it a little bit clearer soon."
Miller enjoys getting some pad work
While most of the skill position athletes were playing games, the big fellas down in the trenches were also having some fun and it came in something unique to The Opening: pads.
"It was fun, I haven't put pads on in awhile since I didn't play in the spring game," West Palm Beach (Fla.) offensive tackle Patrick Miller said. "It was sweet, I got a little hitting time in."
Armed with full shoulder pads and helmets, the one-on-one drills between the offensive and defensive linemen were one of the highlights of the camp. For some players, such as Miller, who have largely been without contact, it did take a bit of an adjustment.
"Definitely, you're getting the cob webs out," he said. "You kind of forget how to pass set or something like that. But you're with all these great coaches and stuff and you get your technique back to where it was and everything. It's just part of getting ready for the season."
Working with former NFL lineman LeCharles Bentley among others, the 6-foot-7, 270-pound Miller has been able to pickup plenty of small tips and tricks that should serve him well going into his senior year.
"There's just so many small, miscellaneous things," Miller said. "I mean a pro tells you, and you're like, alright and you listen to him then. The only people I like to listen to is my head coach, my position coach but obviously, if an NFL player says it, you know it's right."
As one of the top offensive tackles in South Florida, Miller has offers from just about every SEC school, as well as Notre Dame, Florida State, Miami and others. He has taken several unofficial visits recently and will likely take a few more between now and trimming his list down.
"I think I'm going to narrow it down in the middle of the season," Miller said. "I know I'm going to visit Oklahoma and North Carolina. I've already visited Auburn, LSU and Tennessee and Florida too. I liked them all a lot, I liked Auburn a lot obviously. After taking these visits, I definitely was thinking I wanted to commit somewhere but now I realize I just want to wait and weigh my options. There might be something better out there for me."
Mangum sharp again in 7-on-7 setting
If you wanted to have a good 7-on-7 team at an event like this, you needed to pick a good quarterback. Noted quarterback guru George Whitfield Jr., who has worked Ben Roethlisberger and Cam Newton among others, was in charge of drafting “Team Vapor Carbon” with rookie Patrick Peterson. It's no surprise that Whitfield's acumen was on the money as Eagle (Idaho) quarterback Tanner Mangum was the top signal caller throughout the day.
"I'm just doing my best to make them look good," Mangum said. "I know they're talented, they're playmakers, so I'm just doing my best to make good decisions and keep up with them. It's an honor to be playing with them so I don't want to make them look bad."
Mangum team featured Notre Dame-bound receiver Deontay Greenberry, Florida-bound running back Mike Davis and plenty of other impressive skill position players. Being able to throw to such a talented group was nice for the 6-foot-3, 200-pound quarterback but that wasn't the biggest take away from the event.
"There's so many things but I think it's forming relationships with these guys," Mangum said. "These are the top players from across the country and you wouldn't have any other chance to meet them but here. It's an honor to be considered among them and it's been even better getting to know them."
As a BYU commitment for several months, Mangum is one of several players who are already dead-set on their college of choice. With 11 players on his team who have not made a commitment and plenty more at the event, there has surprisingly not been many conversations asking him for advice on the recruiting process.
"Not too much," he said. "Everyone here is pretty set in where they're going, there's a few guys that aren't committed. There aren't any here, but I'm doing my best to recruit some guys to get to the "Y." Dylan Collie and I are working together to get some guys to BYU. There's some big recruits that have committed there and I think that 2012 recruiting class will be pretty good."
The recruiting class that the pair is apart of is the Cougar's first as a football independent. The opportunity to go out on their own and the advantages with that are a big draw for several recruits according to Mangum.
"I think it's helping a lot, it's a big positive," he said. "It allows us to play some big time teams on national television and I think guys draw to that and want to play for that. It's helping out a lot."
The Opening is not the only national competition Mangum is taking part in. He will head down to Pepperdine in a little over a week for the prestigious Elite 11 quarterback camp, something he lights up when asked about it.
"I'm very excited," Mangum said. "I've grown up watching that since I was a kid and it's always been a dream of mine. So it's a dream come true for sure."
Dawson sees two recruiting him hard
One of the more physically imposing defenders on the field was 6-foot-3, 230-pound linebacker Nick Dawson. Flying across the country from Charlotte (N.C.) to the Nike campus was no problem for the talented athlete as he's having a blast so far at The Opening.
"Everything's great," Dawson said. "It's so unique it doesn't make sense. And every day it gets better and better. I'm just out here to compete with the top 150 and I'm doing going good."
Like many players, the opportunity to interact and learn from NFL players has been a moment that often leaves Dawson in awe as he receives tips from the best of the best.
"I'm just getting coached up, you can't ask for any more than this,” he said. “Aaron Curry is out here coaching the linebackers Ray Rice with the running backs. Dwayne Bowe with the receivers, there's just so many unique athletes out here."
Holding offers from schools such as Arkansas, Auburn, Miami, USC and others, Dawson is trying to begin the arduous task of narrowing down his list of programs he is considering.
"Everything is going great with my recruiting," he said. "I'm trying to narrow it down but I don't really have a top five right now."
Just because it's tough to limit his options going forward, doesn't mean a few schools aren't standing out.
"Louisville and Clemson are recruiting me the hardest," he said. "I went to Clemson's camp and Louisville's also. They were great, everything was great. Both of the schools were perfect. I'm just trying to figure out which one is the best, best, best for me. I'm in the process of doing that right now."
Dawson had entertained thoughts of committing during The Opening but could not decide on a school enough to give his verbal pledge. He said he was unsure when he would eventually pull the trigger and commit.
- It wasn't a great day of football for USC commitment Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick. He banged his head against another player while making a play for a ball and ended up having to sit out most of the day (against his wishes it should be noted) after receiving stitches above his eye.
"Four. It wasn't too bad," Cope-Fitzpatrick said before getting to the bad news. "If football doesn't work out, I'm trying to be a model for Nike."
- Oregon commit Jake Rodrigues struggled mightily during 7-on-7, tossing more interceptions than touchdowns and misreading the defense a few times. He was able to throw the ball better as the day went on but he just wasn't as sharp as he was yesterday.
- USF-bound tight end Sean Price has performed well in 7-on-7 events before and did so once again Friday afternoon. He was able to use his big frame and speed to create mismatches and was a nice target in the red zone.
- All-around athlete Cedric Dozier is really rangy as a defensive back. He grabbed quite a few interceptions, including a nice one off Cal commit Zach Kline. Top ten defensive back Landon Collins also impressed in the secondary.
- Number one ranked running back Johnathan Gray is a special back. Known for his rushing skills, he was explosive out of the backfield and displayed some soft hands. He lined up next to future Texas teammate Connor Brewer and the pair definitely had some chemistry out on the field.
- Tight end Taylor McNamara, headed to Arizona, had a really nice day and went up and caught some throws that very few people could get to. Ray Rice jokingly started calling him Todd Heap after making so many plays.
- The play of the day came from receiver Jaydon Mickens. The USC-bound athlete took a short pass and turned it into a 40+ yard touchdown by traversing the field three times and leaving several defenders unable to move. Even speedy Dwayne Bowe was impressed and quite excited about the play.
Tags: Aaron Curry, Arizona, Arkansas, Auburn, Ben Roethlisberger, Bralon Addison, BYU, Cal, Cam Newton, Cedric Dozier, Chad Kelly, Clemson, Connor Brewer, Deontay Greenberry, Duke Johnson, Dwayne Bowe, Dylan Collie, Elite 11, Florida, Florida State, George Whitfield, Jake Rodrigues, Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick, Jaydon Mickens, Jonathan Gray, Josh Freeman, Kansas City Chiefs, Landon Collins, LeCharles Bentley, Lemming Top 100, Louisville, LSU, Miami, Miami, Mike Davis, Nelson Agholor, NFL, Nick Dawson, Nike, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Oregon, Patrick Miller, Pepperdine, Ray Rice, Sean Price, SEC, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Taylor McNamara, Tennessee, Texas, Texas A&M, The Opening, The Opening 2011, USC, USF, Zach Kline
Posted on: June 26, 2011 7:39 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
With new coaching staffs at Miami and Florida, many observers thought that USF could capitalize on the turnover and steal a few recruits that might otherwise head to those two schools or go out-of-state. Skip Holtz and the Bulls picked up two such players this weekend with the commitments of Citra (Fla.) tight end Sean Price and Gainesville (Fla.) cornerback Chris Bivins.
“There is so much to like about USF,” Price, right, told USFNation.com. "When I visited with them and got to hang with Coach (Phil) McGeoghan, Coach (Larry) Scott, Coach Holtz, the whole staff, and some of the players, I felt like it was one big family and I wanted to be part of it.”
Price held scholarship offers from Florida, Miami, Alabama, LSU and Notre Dame among others and has had a terrific summer at 7-on-7 competitions. Despite all of the attention from powerhouse programs in the recruiting process however, it was the school just down the highway that offered Price the best chance to improve his game.
“The campus was real nice, the facilities are awesome and it’s a place where I feel like I can grow into a man at. The whole atmosphere there is electric,” said Price. “They’re a young team and are just going to get better and better, and I know I can go in there and play my freshman year.”
Like Price, Bivins has been a mainstay on the 7-on-7 circuit and camp circuit. He ended up committing at the SuperBull camp put on by USF coaches at Raymond James Stadium.
"After I did everything with the coaches, had some experience with the coaching staff to see how they did things, everything just felt good," Bivins told The St. Petersburg Times.
Bivins' sister, a volleyball player, committed to USF earlier in the week. The 5-foot-11, 170-pound corner also held offers from Arkansas, Illinois and South Carolina. Even with several other programs close to offering this summer, it was tough for the family to be separated and therefore Chris became the second member of the Bivins clan to commit to USF.
"We've been together all our lives. It would be hard for us to separate," he said. "I love my sister to death. I've got to be her big brother and not let anything happen to her. She's older than me, but I still think of myself as her big brother."
The in-state duo give USF six commitments for the class of 2012, including four defensive backs.
Posted on: March 16, 2011 3:46 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
Courtesy of the folks at Elite Scouting, here's some highlights from this weekend's USF Badger Sports 7-on-7 competition.
Included in the video are top plays from Sean Price, Kent Taylor, Latroy Pittman, Nequan Phillips, Tracy Howard, Nelson Agholor, Alvin Bailey, Duke Johnson, Chris Bivins, Amari Cooper, Ahmad Fulwood, Avery Johnson, Drico Johnson, James Brooks, Malcolm Lewis, Tyrece TJ Jiles, Keith Brown, Larry Hope, Tyriq McCord and Leon McQuay.
Tags: Ahmad Fulwood, Alvin Bailey, Amari Cooper, Avery Johnson, Badger Sports 7-on-7, Chirs Bivins, Drico Johnson, Duke Johnson, Elite Scouting, James Brooks, Keith Brown, Kent Taylor, Larry Hope, Latroy Pittman, Leon McQuay, Malcolm Lewis, Nelson Agholor, Nequan Phillips, Sean Price, tracy Howard, Tyrece Jiles, Tyriq McCord, USF, USF Badger Sports
Posted on: March 15, 2011 11:21 am
Posted by Bryan Fischer
Another week, another Badger Sports Elite 7-on-7 in the books. As always, the Florida event brings some of the top talent from the state and surrounding areas and is one of the better 7-on-7 events in the country. Here are some of the players who stood out at the USF Badger Sports 7-on-7
Alton 'Pig' Howard - 5-foot-9, 180 pound running back, Orlando, Fla.
Howard not only had one of the best nicknames at the event (second only to team Child Please), but he was one of the top running backs as well. Very solidly built, he was extremely dangerous once he reached the open field. Comfortable lining up in the slot or in the backfield, Howard had very soft hands and was very focused on the ball when it was thrown his way. His acceleration was off the charts and he is a great multi-purpose back in that he can run down hill and swing out of the backfield to catch passes.
Sean Price - 6-foot-4, 210 pound tight end, Citra, Fla.
Price was probably the top overall playmaker at the event, catching everything thrown his way. He is a bit on the skinny side but has an excellent frame and should be able to add weight with ease. A great leaper, he made a spectacular one-handed catch near the goal line and really attacks the ball and snatches it out of the air. He looks like one of the top tight ends in the state if not the top tight end. With his frame and quickness, he would also make for a pretty good linebacker as well.
Kent Taylor - 6-foot-5, 225 pound tight end, Land O' Lakes, Fla.
Taylor was easy to pick out from a crowd and despite his size, displayed good speed running around the field. He has solid hands made several great plays on jump balls near the end zone. With a good initial burst, Taylor did a good job getting off the line and performed well all tournament as a big, go-to receiver.
Jordan Diggs - 6-foot-2, 200 pound safety, Fort Meyers, Fla.
One of the most impressive looking safeties on the field, Diggs has great size and looks like he could be playing college football already. He was like a hawk roaming around the secondary and didn't let much get through in the passing game. Diggs is probably quicker than he is fast but he does have goot speed and has no problem swatting balls away from receivers. The best part about his game was him talking to younger players in the secondary about what to look for and adjusting the defense to what the offense was doing.
Nelson Agholor - 6-foot-1, 180 pound wide receiver/safety, Tampa, Fla.
Easily one of the top players at the camp, Agholor impressed on both sides of the ball. He played a bit more wide receiver than he did at defensive back and at this point, he's a top level recruit at both positions. Agholor played mostly corner but with his size and speed he could be a very good safety at the next level, especially after a nice diving interception on Sunday. He was also a very good wide out, with plus hands and the ability to blow past corners on defense. Already holding offers from most of the top programs in the country, expect his recruitment to reach a fever pitch as we move closer to the season.
Issac McDonald - 6-foot-6, 200 pound wide receiver, Hialeah, Fla., class of 2013.
McDonald is young but he has a bright future ahead of him if this weekend was any indication. Though he didn't have high end speed, he was catching everything throw his way and was a bit of a bully to defensive backs the way he would make things look effortless. He's still raw but you can't over look his great hands. He made a nice catch in the end zone by reaching back and stealing the ball out of the air on a fade route in one of the biggest plays in round-robin play.
Sony Michel - 5-foot-10, 205 pound running back, Plantation, Fla., class of 2014.
It's easy to see why Michel is one of, if not the, top players in the class of 2014 because he looks like he belongs in the class of 2011. On top of his size, he displayed good quickness and found open spots in the defense like an older player. It's hard to say he's the complete package at such a young age but he is easily the most advanced running back prospect in either the class of 2013 or 2014.
Jamie Wilson - 5-foot-11, 190 pound wide receiver, Belle Glade, Fla.
Every time you'd look up, it seemed like Wilson was making a play or, at the very least, held his hand up because he was open. Though he wasn't the fastest of the quickest on the field, Wilson may have been the savviest. He seemed like he carried his team at times, making play after play. Though Wilson only has one offer, he should expect several more to come his way after a terrific performance this weekend.
Posted on: March 13, 2011 7:06 am
Posted by Bryan Fischer
TAMPA, Fla. - To play against a team of all-stars, bringing your “A game” is a must. Sometimes, even an “A+ game” isn’t enough.
Such was the case at the Badger Sports Elite 7-on-7 tournament Saturday night. Despite several terrific - some would even say ridiculous - catches by Citra (Fla.) tight end Sean Price, Team Showtime narrowly lost to all-star travel team South Florida Express in one of the most exciting games in day one round-robin play.
Price nearly pulled off the upset single-handedly, slightly misjudging a deep pass that would have given Showtime a two-score advantage late in the game. Though he didn’t make that play, the talented tight end used it as motivation.
“I’m used to making plays, that’s nothing new,” Price said. “On the last play, I felt kind of disappointed in myself though because I kind of underestimated the ball and what was going to happen. I can’t hold my head on it, it happens. I just have to play better the next game.
The 6-foot-4, 210 pound Price put on a show for much of the evening, bringing down several one-handed catches and showing off his vertical leap by out-jumping more athletic defensive backs. His best quality was the ability to attack the ball in the air and snatch it away from just about everybody. Though the Showtime team was at times relying exclusively on Price for offense, the young tight end said the team was starting to gel as the night progressed.
“We just started and have only had a few practices,” Price said. “End of the night, we’re starting to get our swag and chemistry up. Things started to click. We know we’re just as good as that team and one of the best out here.”
Price and Team Tampa/Land O’Lakes (Fla.) tight end Kent Taylor were both impressive at the position and will likely battle for the title of best in the state at the position throughout the upcoming season. Price already holds scholarship offers from Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Florida State and others.
“Recent offers are Tennessee, Clemson, LSU, Miami and USF,” he said. “Most are looking at me on offense at tight end. A few have said I could play at defensive end if I want to because I play that in high school too.”
Given Price’s frame, adding weight and playing linebacker at the next level could be something for college coaches to consider, especially considering how well he moved in coverage in limited time on defense during the competition. With multiple schools after his services, Price plans on committing after his senior season and has already scheduled an unofficial visit to Miami next week to give a close look at one of his favorites.
“My top four would be Florida, USF, Miami and possibly Alabama,” he said. “I’m going to go wherever they give me love. If it’s out of state, doesn’t matter, I’ll go there too.”
Fuller tries his hand at safety
Another player who caught the eye of several observers with stellar play Saturday was Fort Myers (Fla.) linebacker/safety Tajarvis Fuller. Playing at both linebacker and safety, the junior used the Badger Sports 7-on-7 competition to adjust to his new position in the secondary after playing mostly linebacker in high school.
“I’m working on trying to be a better safety,” Fuller said. “All of the colleges recruiting me are recruiting me as a strong safety. I’ve never played it before so I’m working on my feet, turning my hips and getting my body right. I just want to show everybody that I’m capable of playing the safety position and showing them what I’m capable of doing.”
The 6-foot-2, 185 pound athlete displayed good quickness but was timid at times while in coverage. Thin for a linebacker, Fuller readily admitted that he would try to add some weight despite changing positions.
“I’ll be playing safety in the spring,” he said. “I still want to get bigger and bulk up 10, 15 pounds. I don’t want to get up to like 230 though.”
Holding scholarship offers from Georgia Tech, Illinois, Indiana, UCF and UCLA, Fuller wore a Miami hat most of the afternoon and did not shy away from expressing his excitement over his most recent offer from the Hurricanes.
“We went down there last Saturday and again on Thursday,” he said. “That’s two times in one week and we talked with Coach (Al) Golden and (defensive backs coach Paul Williams). I was really excited about it. We went down there for the first spring practice.
“Illinois is recruiting me very, very heavily. Top five, Miami is number one, Clemson number two. Alabama is number three but I don’t have an offer. Georgia Tech maybe and then Illinois.”
Although Miami is firmly in the lead, Fuller’s recruitment also has one other factor that will have an effect on where he plays college football.
“Me and Christian Brown, a defensive tackle at my school, we’re going to go to the same college,” Fuller said. “The plan is to commit, maybe, after spring or right at the beginning of the fall.”
Brown’s offer list doesn’t quite match up with Fuller’s but the two do share several offers and both figure to pick up several more over the next few months.
Crow solid throwing and in commitment
The Elite 11 competition in Orlando featured a spirited competition among many of the top quarterbacks from the region and Miami commit Gray Crow was one of several that stood out from the pack. Although he might not have been the top guy at the event, he did turn in a solid performance even if he thought it wasn’t that great.
“Personally, I’m a perfectionist, so I felt like I left a little out here,” Crow said. “I felt like I could have done better. I’m going to take these drills I learned out here and use them to try and improve every single time I put my cleats on.”
Though several schools have reached out and continued to recruit him, Crow remains firmly committed to the Hurricanes for a number of reasons.
“It was my favorite school as a little kid and the combination of academics and the relationship with Coach (Jedd) Fisch and Coach Golden,” he said. “The type of people they are, match my personality. I really like that and having a pro-style offense. Then you get to play at a school like Miami also.”
“I’m set on Miami, no doubt about it.”
The Clearwater (Fla.) product recently traveled down to see Miami go through spring practice and was impressed with the new direction of the program under Golden.
“The practices are very different, very fast paced,” Crow said. “He just brings the attitude that we want to win. He has very good character like myself and he’s going in there and picking everybody back up.”
News and notes
- In addition to Crow and the other quarterbacks mentioned in an earlier update, Tampa (Fla.) quarterback Greg Windham stood out. Earning a coveted yellow jersey as one of the most accurate passers, Windham was very fluid when throwing the ball and has decent size at 6-foot-2, 200 pounds.
- Orlando (Fla.) quarterback Nick Patti surprised with a great arm despite being about 5-foot-10. A quick release and an accurate arm normally gets attention at Elite 11 competitions and Patti earned a yellow jersey as well on top of being named one of the best at the event. The only knock seems to be his height but he is a player and showed his competitiveness off at the event. He was scheduled to throw at the Badger Sports 7-on-7 later in the day but pulled a muscle according to the Orlando Sentinel.
- Class of 2013 quarterback Akeem Jones displayed a cannon of an arm in both events Saturday. He has great size at 6-foot-3, 210 pounds and gets the ball to the receiver in a hurry. Jones is still raw as a passer but making the elite travel team as a sophomore is an indication of just how talented he is. He might end up playing wide receiver in college but he’s got a good head on his shoulders and a great work ethic so it wouldn’t be too surprising if he ended up getting a shot to play quarterback first.
- Former Colorado coach Dan Hawkins is an instructor at the Elite 11 this year. The always enthusiastic Hawkins said he will be attending several spring practices, starting with BYU next week, and instructing at the Elite 11 camps on the weekend. His son, former Colorado quarterback and Elite 11 counselor Cody Hawkins, is in Sweden preparing to play quarterback for a team there.
- Teams from South Florida dominated the Badger Sports event, with three going undefeated in round-robin play. Elite travel team South Florida Express went a perfect 4-0 and had an unbelievable collection of talent at wide receiver, led by LSU commit Avery Johnson and Herb Waters. The South Florida Blur were led by several good performances from wide out Jamie Wilson.
- Florida commit Matt Jones did not play with an undisclosed injury.
- Orlando (Fla.) defensive back Ty Law said he recently picked up offers from N.C. State and West Virginia.
Tags: Akeem Jones, Al Golden, Alabama, Arkansas, Avery johnson, Badger Sports 7-on-7, BYU, Christian Brown, Clemson, Cody Hawkins, Colorado, Dan Hawkins, Elite 11, Florida, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Gray Crow, Greg Windham, Herb Waters, Illinois, Indiana, Jedd Fisch, Kent Taylor, LSU, Matt Jones, Miami, N.C. State, Nick Patti, Paul Williams, Sean Price, South Florida Express, Tajarvis Fuller, Tennessee, Ty Law, UCLA, USF, USF Badger Sports, West Virginia