Tom VanHaarenESPN Staff Writer
From Saturday to Tuesday, Frisco, Texas, will be inundated with 162 of the top high school football players in the country participating in Nike’s The Opening. It’s a star-studded camp that puts the best football prospects against one another in one-on-one and linemen challenges as well as a 7-on-7 tournament that will feature a plethora of future college standouts.
The annual event has taken place in Oregon at Nike headquarters in the past but has now moved to The Star in Frisco, headquarters of the Dallas Cowboys, which includes an entertainment district.
The event is a who’s who of college football recruiting, and there is a ton to know about this event. Here is a look at some of the more important bits of info to keep an eye one heading into The Opening.
Who will be there?
All 11 of ESPN’s five-star recruits will be in attendance, including the No. 1-ranked prospect overall, defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux. The 6-foot-5, 234-pound California prospect is uncommitted and still considering Alabama, LSU, Washington, Florida State, Michigan, USC, UCLA, Clemson, Oregon, Georgia, Florida and Oklahoma.
Defensive end Nolan Smith is the No. 2-ranked prospect. He will also compete at The Opening and is committed to Georgia.
To round out the top three, defensive end Zach Harrison will also be at the event, which means the offensive tackles are going to have their hands full in the one-on-ones. Harrison is uncommitted at this point and is mainly considering Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State.
The top three prospects are all defensive ends, but the tackles who will have to block Thibodeaux, Smith and Harrison in Texas also happen to represent the next four prospects in the rankings. Texas A&M commit Kenyon Green, Alabama commit Pierce Quick, uncommitted prospect Darnell Wright and Michigan State pledge Devontae Dobbs will all be battling throughout the event.
Defensive tackle Ishmael Sopsher and center Clay Webb are both uncommitted five-stars who should see each other frequently in one-on-ones and could see each other in college as well. They haven’t made their commitments yet, but Sopsher is considering LSU and Webb is very high on Alabama. This could be a preview of future SEC West foes.
Outside of the five-stars, 59 other top 100 prospects will attend, including the No. 1-ranked quarterback in the class, Oklahoma commit Spencer Rattler. It’s always a battle among the quarterbacks to see who comes out on top at the end of the week, and Rattler will compete with South Carolina commit Ryan Hilinski, Wisconsin commit Graham Mertz, Auburn commit Bo Nix and the top-ranked uncommitted quarterback, Jayden Daniels, among others.
Which teams will be most represented?
Oklahoma has the most commitments in the showcase with seven prospects pledged. Rattler is the highest-ranked commit for the Sooners, at No. 22 overall, and Oklahoma fans could get a good look at the future offense as Rattler will be joined by tight end Austin Stogner and wide receivers Theo Wease Jr., Arjei Henderson and Trejan Bridges, as well as offensive lineman E.J. Ndoma-Ogar.
Alabama is next with six. Quick, the highest-rated Crimson Tide commit in attendance, will be joined by linebacker Shane Lee, defensive back Christian Williams, defensive tackle Antonio Alfano and defensive end Kevin Harris, among others.
LSU has the next most commitments on hand, with five, featuring offensive lineman Kardell Thomas and defensive backs Derek Stingley Jr. and Marcus Banks. Georgia, Penn State, Oregon and Florida State will all have four commitments in attendance, and Ohio State, Auburn, Texas A&M, Michigan and Stanford have three committed recruits each participating.
Top uncommitted prospects in attendance?
Thibodeaux and Harrison are the top uncommitted prospects at No. 1 and 3 overall in the rankings, and we already mentioned Sopsher and Webb, who are fellow five-stars. Offensive lineman Wright is ranked No. 6 overall and still looking for a future home. Alabama, Ohio State and Tennessee seem to be the teams most mentioned with Wright.
Athlete Daxton Hill ranks 14 overall and is down to Alabama, Clemson, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Michigan and Ohio State. Wide receiver Marcus Washington from St. Louis is the No. 15-ranked prospect overall. Washington has a top six of Texas, Oregon, Ohio State, Missouri, Georgia and Florida State, and is planning to announce his commitment on Aug. 7. Running back Trey Sanders is the No. 1-ranked running back in the class, and while he was committed to Alabama at one point, he is currently uncommitted. Florida, Alabama and Georgia are in consideration, along with Texas, Oklahoma, Florida State, LSU and USC, according to Sanders.
Non-seniors to know
It’s never too early to get to know the next crop of recruits, especially since recruiting is happening faster and faster every year. There are typically a handful of outstanding rising juniors invited to The Opening, and this year is no exception.
Six 2020 recruits will attend this year, and despite lacking a year of experience on their older peers, the youngsters will be looking to prove they belong on the same field. Among the list are running backs Chris Tyree from Virginia and Jase McClellan and Zachary Evans, both out of Texas. McClellan is already committed to Oklahoma, but the other two remain uncommitted. Tyree hasn’t officially narrowed down his list but has a lot of interest in Virginia Tech, Penn State, Mississippi State, Florida State and Stanford.
California linebacker Justin Flowe, at 6-foot-1, 223 pounds, has been racking up offers from programs across the country. And Maryland defensive lineman Bryan Bresee, a 6-foot-5, 290-pound defensive end, might have the best opportunity among all the 2020 guys to showcase his abilities, given the nature of the event. He’ll have a lot of eyes on him as he takes on some of the best tackles in the senior class. Bresee has offers from nearly every major program in the country, and is already one of the biggest names in his class.