It is that time of year again, as Nike hosts its elite football prospect camp at its campus in Oregon. “The Opening” has become perhaps the nation’s premier showcase for high school football talent, even if in this hyper-accelerated recruiting environment most of the prospects in attendance have been household names among recruitniks for some time.
In the past many of the drills, skills challenges, and other events have been broadcast nationally, giving us a great window into how some of the nations premier prospects look when matched against each other. Unfortunately, it appears that this year the only televised portion of the event will be the 7-on-7 tournament on Monday, July 3rd. You can catch that on NFL Network.
Another important aspect of this event is that it provides a chance for committed prospects to get face time with uncommitted targets of their chosen schools. It's also a chance for recruits to compare notes about programs which they are considering, and too see players that could end up playing with up close. For all these reasons, it is not uncommon to see some pretty major Recruiting News pop up in the days following the event. (Speaking of which, are you subscribed to SB Nation Recruiting’s daily Crootletter? If not, why not?)
The Georgia Bulldogs usually have some prospects in attendance, and this year is no different. The quarterbacks arrived yesterday and so far a lot of eyes have been focused on rising senior five star signal callers Matt Corral and Justin Fields.
Corral, a former USC commitment, was rumored to have tried to commit to UGA last week but was rebuffed because the Bulldogs had their sights on fields. Personally, I find this extremely hard to believe. Since opening up his recruitment Corral has heard overtures from a ton of programs and I doubt seriously that he will be shutting things down very soon.
Fields has likewise been hearing a lot from the nation's top football programs since decommitting from Penn State recently. Fields has also hit the road for visits to Athens, Gainesville, Tuscaloosa, and Tallahassee. The Gators and Seminoles will be key competitors for likely the nation's top dual threat quarterback, along with the Auburn Tigers (Fields plays on Cam Newton's 7-on-7 team). Some other prospects to be aware of:
2019 Bulldog commit Nolan Smith of IMG Academy will be in town. Clemson has been making a run at the Savannah native recently, and while he remains committed, Smith’s recruitment is going to be a marathon not a sprint.
Fellow 2019 Peach State prospect Owen Pappoe of Grayson returns to Oregon after turning heads last year. Georgia is fighting every major football power in the nation for Pappoe’s commitment. FSU looms large at this point along with Clemson.
FSU tailback commit James Cook will be showcasing his impressive combination of size and speed. While Cook’s certainly got a lot pulling his to Tallahassee (his older brother is Dalvin Cook), there's been a lot of talk about him landing at UGA if he wants to escape his brother’s shadow.
Five star Stockbridge defensive and Brenton Cox, and Ohio State commit, will be there. The buckeyes have a ton of commits in Oregon, but Cox is one to the Home State Bulldogs are continuing to push for.
Pace Academy standout in Jamatee Salyer, also a five star prospect, will be among a number of elite interior lineman at the camp. Salyer has long been considered, if not a Georgia lean, at least well in play for UGA. He’ll be joined by Houston County OL Trey Hill, the guy who gaurded Jake Fromm’s blindside in 2016 and a major UGA target.
Also among the big guys in attendance will be the (literal) biggest guy on Georgia’s 2018 recruiting board, IMG’s Daniel Faalale. While the 6’9, 395 pound behemoth hasn't played a down of regulation football yet, he's got unreal athleticism for his size, and is being pursued hard by programs willing to take on his development.
The nation's top weak side defensive end, Virginian Micah Parsons, will be at the event and is a big-time UGA target. The Bulldogs will have a lot of work to do to get Parsons in red and black, but it's clear that the nation’s #4 overall prospect is a major priority. The #2 ranked defensive end, KJ Henry of North Carolina, will also be at the Opening and is being recruited hard by Kirby Smart’s staff (Clemson appears to be the leader here).
Monday’s 7-on-7 should be a good chance to see priority UGA target Tyreke Johnson. The 6’1, 190 pound Jacksonville native is rated as the #2 cornerback in the 2018 class, and a lot of recent speculation has the Athenians leading for his services. Current UGA corner commit Chris Smith of Hapeville Charter will be on the field as well. I'm forecasting that he’ll outplay his current three star recruiting ranking.
On the other side of the ball, Tucker wide receiver Josh Vann and Peach County receiver Kearis Jackson may well end up in the red and black, and will be on the field at Swoosh U.