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Tag:The Opening
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 20, 2011 2:30 am
Edited on: July 20, 2011 2:38 am
 

Winston evolving into complete QB at Elite 11

Posted by Bryan Fischer

MALIBU, Calif. -- With everybody settled into their picturesque surroundings at Pepperdine University during day two of the Elite 11, the throws were sharper, the completion percentage was up and - perhaps just as important - so was the level of competition.

"It's been good out here with all these great quarterbacks," Bessemer (Ala.) quarterback Jameis Winston said. "I'm just out here competing, that's the main thing."

The 6-foot-4, 185-pound signal-caller was the top performer Tuesday and was really spinning the ball well during a brisk morning throwing session. Despite the effort he put in on each throw, Winston understands that he's still evolving from an athlete into a quarterback and that there are several parts of his game that he can work on.

"Drops," he identifies immediately almost before the question is even asked. "I want to also work on my hips more. I have to get my hips open more so I don't hurt anything down low. So I just have to work my hips more and get open. I've got to get better everyday."

Winston was almost like a little brother on the field to college counselor E.J. Manuel out of Florida State. The two have similar builds (though Winston is much thinner) and a similar throwing motion. Often conversing between snaps, the college starter had no problem mentoring the high school star.

"E.J. helps me a lot on making sure I'm staying on top of the ball and not squeezing the ball," Winston said. "He's helped me a lot and he's at one of my final schools, Florida State."

Down to three schools in his recruitment, Maxpreps' second ranked quarterback and 21st overall player in the class of 2012 is considering the Seminoles and hasn't been shy about asking Manuel about the program.

"I've asked him about Florida State and their program," Winston said. "He's been pretty real with me. He's told me the ups and downs - there's not many downs but he told me some."

The other finalists for the five-star quarterback are both SEC powerhouses, one close to home and the other a few hours away by car. With distance not a huge factor for Winston, he's had to look closer at what each program brings to the table for him.

"Alabama is the home school," he said. "I mean, there's no place like home. I've been there a million times, just over and over. LSU, it's just a great competitive atmosphere and I want to be in that competitive atmosphere wherever I go, especially with baseball and football."

Winston is a top high school baseball player in addition to his success on the gridiron. While Florida State and LSU are perennial contenders at the College World Series, the success of the baseball program at any of the three schools he's considering is only a small factor in his decision.

"Yes," he says before cautioning," but Alabama's baseball program is coming up."

Projected by some to go as high as the first round draft in next year's MLB Draft, Winston knows it's possible he'll have to make a decision similar to Nebraska quarterback and Kansas City Royals first round pick Bubba Starling.

"Yes I've followed him," Winston said. "I'm going to consider (going pro). I don't know right now because I'm not as advanced as he is. He got there this year and I'm just considering it. Thinking about it but trying to have fun. It's in the back of my mind."

Slated to make one fan base very happy when he ultimately picks a school on August 3rd, Winston revealed that he's already decided where he'll play his college ball - football and baseball - but didn't offer any hints as to where that might actually be.

"I know where I'm going," he said. "The coaches know."

Kline reps the West Coast

Danville (Calif.) quarterback Zach Kline had one of the shortest commutes to the Elite 11 from the Bay Area and though he is used to going down to the beach or enjoying a cool summer day, the experience with 23 other top quarterbacks at the Elite 11 has been eye-opening for him.

"It's been awesome," Kline said. "Nothing is like it, ever. It's the best thing I've ever been to and you have the best players here."

The California kid was sporting a Rafael Nadal-like look on Tuesday with long hair and a headband. Though he was one of the most outgoing and relaxed players on the field, that masked his workman-like approach to learning as much as he could from the coaches and counselors at the event.

"A lot of things like making every throw count and the little things matter the most," he said about what he learned. "Even the smallest thing down to a drop, the fake on the play action matters more than anything and is the difference between a completion and an interception. And just kind of getting to know these guys and the things that they see."

In between meals and film sessions, the Cal commit has been able to take time to bond with his fellow campers, many of whom he is already close with.

"I know these guys real well," Kline said. "Connor Brewer I've been friends with for awhile, for a couple of years. Jake Rodrigues I've been friends with for a long time as well. Tyler Matthews same deal. Gunner Kiel, I was at the Elite 11 last year as a ball boy with him. He's the man, he's a great quarterback and just a cool dude to hang around with. Same for all of those guys, every single one of them."

Regarded by many as the top quarterback on the West Coast, the 6-foot-3, 210-pounder is confident in himself and showed that he can make all the throws on the field, going neck-and-neck with other highly ranked players like Winston and Kiel. Still, despite actually belonging with the best in the nation, Kline knows there's still something left for him to prove.

"Definitely," he says before identifying the biggest reason why. "Tanner Mangum is giving me a run for my money. He's good, a great quarterback and a great dude too. He's a good friend of mine as well and he's going to do big things at BYU, just an awesome quarterback, can't wait to watch him."

Appleby stars in the classroom

While Mangum wore a yellow jersey for being the winner of the Golden Arm competition on the field Monday, North Canton (Ohio) quarterback Austin Appleby sported a red jersey on Tuesday after taking home honors for best performance in the classroom. The chance to show off his quarterback IQ was a welcome one for someone who had prepared to do so for quite some time.

"I got a chance to get up in front on the board, in front of everybody, and impress Coach (Trent) Dilfer," Appleby said. "I put a lot of time and preparation coming into this. I've been hours upon hours into knowing this playbook and I take pride in being the most prepared at this camp."

With so much teaching on and off the field from instructors, Appleby made an apt analogy to schoolwork when talking about what specifically he'll take back to his high school.

"It's graduate level stuff," he said. "In my offense, I'm a little more advanced and making those checks and making those slide protections, or any audible I need too. So having this knowledge and understanding of how it's really supposed to work is really going to broaden my skill level from a mental aspect as well from the coaching we're going to get from a fundamental aspect."

The 6-foot-5, 230-pounder looks like he's physically ready to play on Saturdays and appears fully recovered from a knee injury he suffered last year. He throws a very catchable ball but can really put some spin on it if required. Even having the opportunity to showcase his quarterback skills alongside the other campers has been quite the experience for Appleby.

"It's awesome, there's no better place than to be here right now," he said. "The talent level is unbelievable. It's the top 24 for a reason and as the days go by and we get near the end, the elite will rise towards the top. Then we'll see who's number one and I have full intentions of being that number one."

Committed to Purdue, Appleby is in constant contact with the Boilermakers staff to keep them updated on his progress at the Elite 11.

"I'm going to be in contact with them and at the end of the day, I kind of update them with what's going on," he said. "It's kind of tough with the time zone, I keep forgetting how late it is over there. But I tell my high school coach as well and we're going to all together get better."

Clearly advanced mentally and physically, the senior to-be is undecided if he'll enroll early and take part in spring football with Purdue next year.

"I don't know at this point," he said. "We're looking into it but I don't know the details at this point."

Notes:

- Tanner Mangum won the Golden Arm competition for the second day in a row. After proudly sporting the yellow jersey on Tuesday, he will do so again during Wednesday's throwing sessions.

- Utah commit Travis Wilson has the frame to put on a few pounds of muscle but the 6-foot-6 quarterback has all the tools to make it at the next level. His release might be the best part of his game, as the ball comes out quickly and effortlessly.

- One of the surprises of day two was North Carolina commit Patton Robinette. He came in a close second behind Mangum in the Golden Arm competition but was sharp throughout practice. He did a good job hitting the receivers in the right spot and knowing just how much to put on the ball. Robinette also did a good job on throws to the outside and could really drive the ball on out routes.

- After a rough week at The Opening, Oregon verbal Jake Rodrigues has bounced back nicely at the Elite 11. It still seems like he gets a little bit too wide of a base but he was accurate and was able to get good power on just about every one of his throws.

- If there's anyone who could be labeled Mr. Consistent, it would be Bart Houston. He doesn't wow you out of the gate but he's got the perfect mix of arm strength, frame, throwing motion and accuracy to know he'll be a perfect fit at Wisconsin.

Posted on: July 19, 2011 3:16 am
Edited on: July 19, 2011 10:04 am
 

All eyes on Kiel as Elite 11 kicks off

Posted by Bryan Fischer

MALIBU, Calif. -- Perfection isn't something that is easy to come by but 24 of the nation's top quarterbacks found the conditions to be as close to perfect as you could be on a picturesque Southern California day to open the Elite 11 quarterback competition on the campus of Pepperdine University

Amid signal-callers who had succeeded in high school, college and the NFL, the one player that drew plenty of attention with every throw was Columbus (Ind.) star Gunner Kiel. One of the handful of uncommitted players at the event, he was slated to have already made a decision last month and again in the middle of July. But those dates came and went and so everybody wanted know just who was standing out and when the top-ranked quarterback would pull the trigger on a school.

"I just decided to go and check out my options again and what was out there," Kiel said. "I tried (to set another date). I tried that next week but that didn't really work out. I'm done putting dates on it and whenever I feel ready to commit, that's when I'm going to."

Wearing his familiar white and orange shoes, Kiel was sharp throughout the two hour workout overlooking the Pacific Ocean. He threw a tight spiral on just about every throw and was one of the few quarterbacks who stayed balanced throughout the throwing motion.

Because he often declines interview requests, Kiel knows that there's intense interest in his decision and though he had no trouble answering any question that came his way from a throng of reporters, the 6-foot-4, 215-pounder wouldn't offer up many hints as to which program he was leaning towards.

"I like to keep it kind of personal, I'm always a team player too," he said. "I like to focus my time on my team and school work. I think of college stuff all the time but at the end of the day, I'm not going to make it a big thing. I'll probably tell the team and my family and it will probably gradually get out.

"It takes a lot out of you for a teenager but I have a strong family that's always by my side." 

Kiel's older brothers are quite familiar with the ins and outs of the recruiting process. Dusty is Indiana's possible starter this season while other brother Drew is reading defenses and calling out plays at Illinois State. While the conversations between the Kiel brothers might not always be about football, the pair have been an invaluable resource for Gunner to lean on.

"It's huge, they know what's out there and what's not," said the youngest Kiel. "I couldn't be more thankful for more blessed with a better family or better team."

Oklahoma, Indiana, Missouri and Alabama have mostly been the four teams out front for the five-star quarterback and many believe the Hoosiers are only on the list because of his brother. Ask Kiel though and he'll dismiss talk that it would be a "shock" if he were to play for the local team.

"I wouldn't say that," he said. "Indiana has a great coaching staff and they're definitely going to win football games. Coach (Kevin) Wilson is a fiery guy. My brother is going to be playing quarterback for them, which is awesome. I'll be at games and cheering him on. When I talk to him, I know they're going to win football games."

Kiel said that he does not plan to take any other visits and that he has already taken a trip to see all of his final schools. One notable thing he mentioned Monday was the fact that he would not go to a school that is looking to take two quarterbacks in the class of 2012. That would seem to rule out Oklahoma and Missouri, who both picked up players at the position in the past few weeks, but MaxPreps' top signal-caller wouldn't let on about any of his finalists in too much detail.

"There's some schools out there, i just kind of try and keep it low-key," he said. "I think everyone's great that I'm interested in. They have great facilities, great football teams, it's just kind of hard to make a decision right now.

"I'll probably decide before school."

Performing at events like the Elite 11 are one of the few times players get a chance to gauge how they stack up against competition nationally. Ranked as the second best player in the country overall, the red haired quarterback isn't feeling the heat from others and is focused only on improving himself throughout the rest of the week.

"There's always pressure out there," Kiel said. "At the end of the day, you've got to have fun and let it sling and not care. I know it's out there that I'm the number one quarterback in the nation but that's just a number."

Mangum continues to impress

As the camp counselors announced who won the final drill of the day, it was no surprise to hear them call out Eagle (Idaho) quarterback Tanner Mangum's name after the BYU recruit continued to show off his accuracy and strong arm on the final stop of the camp circuit.

"It feels good to come out on the first day and do well to start the week off right," Mangum said. "I know there's a lot of talented quarterbacks out here so it feels good to kind of get your name out there within the group."

Mangum was the top quarterback at last week's The Opening in Oregon and he picked up right where he left off in Malibu, winning the Golden Gun award for best accuracy during the final drill of the day.

"I'm trying to keep the momentum going," he said. "I'm playing well right now and hopefully I can keep it up the rest of the week. It definitely feels good to come out here and play well."

As the one of the few players from Idaho to receive much attention nationally, competing with the top players from around the country - and more often than not beating them - has been welcome preparation for the next level.

"You've only been here a few hours but you can already feel the competitive nature that these guys have," he said. "They're here for a reason. It's good to get to know these guys on a level other than football."

The 6-foot-3, 195-pounder will get to wear a special gold jersey throughout Tuesday as a result of being the top performer in the final drills.

Pike loving the experience

Auburn commit and Edgewood (Ky.) quarterback Zeke Pike has already been around the country for 7-on-7 competitions but walking off the field at Pepperdine was an altogether new, and very welcome, experience for the 6-foot-5, 230-pound football player.

"It's great just coming out here and competing with the top guys in the country," Pike said. "Even better than that is to be out here in California and Malibu. It doesn't get much better than this."

Pike is still recovering from minor shoulder surgery but was throwing the ball well at the end of the day after starting a bit slow. As someone who is a bit raw, picking up tips and tricks from the instructors has been vital to becoming a better quarterback. 

"It's fun to come out here with guys who know what they're talking about and be able to pick up teaching points," he said. "It's a lot different but it doesn't get much better than this, practicing football with the ocean in the background."

With camp counselors such as Florida State's E.J. Emanuel and Michigan State's Kirk Cousins, Pike has dedicated himself to soaking up anything and everything they and others have to offer as advice.

"You just try to take anything you can get back," Pike said. "You're working with Trent (Dilfer) and Jordan Palmer was in our group, he's five minutes from where I live. It's kind of good to come out here and meet him, we'll probably work a little when I get back. You just try and take something to improve your game."

Posted on: July 16, 2011 11:53 pm
 

Loaded DeSoto team takes home Texas 7-on-7 title

COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Bryson Echols just couldn't help himself.

Minutes after winning the Texas state Division I 7-on-7 championship, the longtime Texas commitment threw up the 'Hook 'em' sign at Texas A&M's Kyle Field with a very large grin on his face.

"It's very good," Echols said. "I know what they're missing out on.

"It's even better that we won at A&M."

Echols' fellow DeSoto (Texas) teammates were just as happy after the team ran through the competition at one of the biggest events in the state undefeated and in the process, accomplished one of their many team goals.

"It's exciting, we worked hard all summer for this," fellow corner Jalen Mills said. "Now we've got to go out and win the real state championship."

The Eagles were one of the most athletic teams at the event and used their quickness and speed to blow through the rest of the field in impressive fashion. It meant a little bit more to many members of the team after they fell just short of grabbing a medal last year.

"It's special because last year I thought we were going to win it for sure," Echols said. "This year I had a few doubts but we won and that's all that matters."

"It's a rush because you're playing against the best athletes in the state of Texas," Mills added. "You have to bring it every game."

The 5-foot-10, 170-pound Echols played well for the second consecutive week after participating in Nike all-star event The Opening in Oregon. While there were not a ton of prospects for him to recruit for the Longhorns at the state tourney, he has been active for the school for several others.

"At The Opening, I was whispering in everybody's ear," he said. "There was the safety, Landon Collins, him. And a running back, he's a sophomore, (Altee) Tenpenny."

Echols is one of two players from DeSoto headed to Austin next fall and one of several FBS-level recruits on a loaded team primed for a run at state later this year. Mills is one of the few uncommitted players on the team and has seen his recruitment pick up following a good summer at 7-on-7 tournaments. 

"I have offers from Pitt, Virginia, Baylor, Houston, Tulsa, UTEP, Louisiana Tech, Memphis and a couple of others," he said. "Coach Norwood at Baylor and Coach Henson at Virginia are coming after me the hardest. And Coach Norvell at Pitt."

Mills says he'll head to Florida State next week and that defensive coordinator Mark Stoops is recruiting him and may offer him soon if he performs well at the Seminoles camp next Tuesday. An offer from the school will certainly change things but at the moment he remains wide open and really only has two schools he knows will make his short list.

"I know I want to visit Virginia and Pitt, those two colleges for sure," said Mills. "Probably later in the season is when I'll end up making my decision."

Given his offer list, it appears the 6-foot, 180-pounder is headed outside the state to play college ball but that isn't a problem for Mills, who says distance is not a factor in his recruitment.

"Not at all," he said. "I just want to go to where the team plays the top level competition every game and goes out there and wins."

Davis enjoying time in Aggieland

If there was one player who really gave it his all this weekend, it was Houston (Texas) quarterback Matt Davis. Ranked 73rd overall in the country by MaxPreps, Davis showed he was fully recovered from a knee injury last season by playing both quarterback and safety for his Klein Forest team in every game despite it being roughly 100 degrees two days in a row.

"It's pretty hot but I'm doing what's best for the team," Davis said. "It's all about athleticism. Anything that comes in the air, we try and snatch it up. We just try and make plays."

The 6-foot-2, 210-pounder is a Texas A&M commitment and represented the Aggies well, throwing a nice spiral and really spinning the ball well in the 7-on-7 setting. Being able to grab some wins in the fields near where he will one day play was an experience and just one of the reasons why he'll eventually make his way up to College Station.

"It's great," he said. "I'm always looking back over there at Kyle Field."

"I talked with Coach Williams yesterday, he was just asking how we did. I told him we won all three and had a game tomorrow. He's great."

Though he holds offers from Alabama, Arkansas, LSU, Oklahoma State and others, Davis is a very solid commitment to Texas A&M because of that relationship with the current staff.

"That's the main reason why I committed," Davis said. "They have great coaches here, great fans, great recruits."

In between games and even during them, the four-star signal-caller is one of several Aggie recruiters, hoping to lure the next wave of talent to the program.

"There's a kid on Plano's team, a 2013 kid, so I told him to come to the A&M camp tomorrow," Davis said. "There's a lot of kids out here. I know there's a kid from Arlington, (linebacker) Sam Douglas, they say he's a player. In between possessions, I may talk to him a little bit."

Notes

- Texas A&M, Oregon, USC, Baylor, Oklahoma, Texas Tech and others have shown interest in Rosenberg Terry High wide receiver Derrick Griffin. The 2013 prospect was dominant Saturday, powering his team to a consolation game win and using his 6-foot-5, 210-pound frame to shield the ball from defenders. Griffin is already well known from playing AAU basketball (he already holds an Oklahoma offer) but it not surprising when he said he'll likely be playing both sports in college after his performance at the 7-on-7 tournament. He has already camped at Oklahoma and Texas Tech.

- Baylor commit Kiante Griffin played both ways for his team and looked good when observed. He could succeed at the next level at either but it still seems like he'll wind up on offense.

- TCU pledge Kolby Listenbee had on an Oregon shirt Saturday but not to worry TCU fans, he didn't have a Horned Frogs shirt and the Ducks shirt was all that he had in his bag after returning from The Opening last week.

- Texas Tech quarterback commit Clayton Nicholas had a very good tournament, leading his team to the consolation game final and looked very sharp. He was named to the All Tournament team over several other deserving players but easily earned the honor.

- One 2013 player that caught just about everyone's eye was Austin (Texas) Lake Travis wide receiver Dannon Cavil. The 6-foot-4, 210-pound rising junior impressed with size and speed but he has a very good pair of hands. Several colleges are already interested and pursuing him.

Posted on: July 13, 2011 9:44 am
Edited on: July 13, 2011 9:45 am
 

7/13 Recruiting Roundup

Posted by Bryan Fischer

- I joined the In The Bleachers podcast to talk about The Opening so be sure to listen in.

- Top 100 quarterback Jameis Winston won't pass up first round money if he's drafted high. 

- The top returning high school passers for this upcoming season from Maxpreps

- There are plenty of factors going into the decision of number one recruit Dorial Green-Beckham.

- A look at the ACC Coastal division's recruiting classes.

 Florida put together two really good recruiting classes this past decade. Wide receiver Jeremy Glinton could commit to their current class.

 Miami has been very aggressive in their recruiting under Al Golden

Commitments:

 Virginia Tech recruiting is doing well after the Hokies added another receiver.

 UCLA added a defensive end from Delaware. 

It's no surprise but Colorado picked up a commitment from another player from Texas. 

 Another new Husky for Washington's recruiting class.
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 11:31 am
Edited on: July 11, 2011 3:10 pm
 

High school teammates pledge to Miami

Posted by Bryan Fischer

There were six Miami commitments at The Opening this past week at the Nike Campus in Oregon. Competing with the best of the best, the group represented the Hurricanes with a variety of hats, shirts and even eye black with the "U" on it.

On top of all of that, they were also Al Golden's recruiters on the road and did a pretty good job if you consider the results: Fellow Opening players and high school teammates James Burgess and Herb Waters both made verbal commitments to Miami upon returning home from the event Sunday.

"I couldn't feel any better," Waters told CaneSport.com. "Today was the best day of my life becoming a family with the rest of the kids and knowing we have a championship to win."

Waters had scholarship offers from Ohio State, Florida State, UCF and others before selecting Miami. His Homestead High teammate Burgess said the pair literally selected the 'Canes over their other offers on the way back from The Opening.

"We decided today at the airport when we landed," Burgess told the site. "We decided on the plane. When we got settled we called coach Golden. We talked to him for 10 minutes. He was out of town, said best of luck and welcome to the U family."

The pair give the Hurricanes 22 commitments for the Class of 2012. Burgess finished last season with 132 tackles and an interception; Waters played multiple positions as a junior, including quarterback, receiver and running back.
 
 
 
 
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