BEAVERTON, Ore. – We’re live at The Opening, Nike football’s recruiting showcase talking about the most important storylines affecting Big Ten teams and the players they’re chasing. Join us nightly from Nike’s world headquarters for the news and notes about your favorite school and their recruiting efforts.
Alpha Pro Struggles to find offense, knocked out early of 7-on-7 tournament
Things did not go as expected for Tate Martell, Trevon Grimes and Tyjon Lindsey’s team – Alpha Pro – at The Opening. After securing a first-round bye in the 7-on tournament, Alpha Pro came out sluggish and never found any sort of offensive flow Sunday morning, losing their first two games of the day without scoring a point.
Martell and Jake Fromm continues to split reps and there’s no doubt that some of the struggles were a result of quarterbacks who were tired, out-of-rhythm thanks to split-snaps and – even though it’s weird because we’re talking about flag football here – bad coaching. Alpha Pro appeared to call the same play nearly every single snap and never made getting the ball to Grimes or Florida State commitment DJ Mathews a priority and when defenses tightened up on Lindsey, it was tough to find enough time for the outside guys to work themselves open.
Overall, it was a disappointing day for Martell, but he wasn’t fretting about it.
“I know what kind of player I am,” he told Landof10. “It just wasn’t a great day.”
He echoed that sentiment on social media following the second loss.
Just wasn't our day today! Made a ton of great plays just couldn't piece it all together. https://t.co/r8AWOoddvB
— Tate Martell (@TheTateMartell) July 10, 2016
Martell has received a lot of undue criticism as a quarterback over the years – it’s a byproduct of being recruited since he was 13-years-old – and it’s easy to see that he wasn’t his best Saturday evening or Sunday morning, but there were some encouraging things, too. When the chips were down and a number of players on his team were visibly frustrated (Trevon Grimes was not happy at all today with the lack of catches he had), he was a steadying influence and a vocal leader trying to get things back on the right track.
I don’t know whether or not he’ll see a rankings “dip” from the weekend, but he shouldn’t and more than that it really doesn’t matter. What Martell does best on the field isn’t always going to translate properly in an event like this one, and that’s completely ok.
Lunarbeast fights but falls
The real Buckeyes 7-on-7 team The Opening was Team Lunarbeast, which featured six different future Buckeyes. On Sunday morning, they too were a bit shaky to start the day and didn’t get their offense unhinged until Syracuse commitment Tommy DeVito lit up the Mach Speed team in the second half of the early game. Ultimately, they couldn’t get past Hypercool, who had just eliminated Martell and Alpha Pro the game before.
J.K. Dobbins was effective out of the backfield, Marcus Williamson played very well as did Shaun Wade, though he sat out the final game of the day after a minor leg injury that he didn’t want to risk making it worse. Brendon White once again was all over the field for Lunarbeast, adding an interception return for a touchdown to an impressive weekend. He was the only Lunarbeast player I saw that didn’t miss a play on defense.
Okudah and the Buckeyes
Ohio State continues to be at the top of the list for Grand Prairie, Texas, safety Jeffrey Okudah, who finished second at the Nike+ Football Ratings championships Friday morning. Okudah talked to Landof10 about why he’s stayed so close to the Buckeyes, but also why he’s not yet ready to make a college decision.
“They’ve built so many great relationships with my family,” Okudah told Landof10. “My coaches, basically everyone around me. What’s left is for me to visit the schools I’ve not had a chance to visit yet, so I don’t leave any stones unturned. I’m definitely interested in seeing Clemson, they’re one of the schools that have offered I’ve not been to.”
Okudah made two Ohio State trips this summer and the last one – made with his aunt – was a little different because it wasn’t football related.
“It really wasn’t an athletic visit,” Okudah said of the June trip. “It was more of an academic trip, to see the plan they have laid out for me. Just taking in the campus and all that stuff.”
Even though the last trip to Ohio State wasn’t about football, there’s plenty of discussion going on still between Okudah and the Buckeyes.
“Me and (Urban) Meyer text almost every day,” Okudah said. “I communicate a lot with (Kerry) Coombs too, because they’re recruiting me as a boundary cornerback.”
Okudah is looking at a potential fall decision and right now if there’s anyone chasing the Buckeyes, it’s Oklahoma. He plans to attend the September 17 matchup between the Buckeyes and Sooners in Norman.
Ohio State in the mix for three big-time stars in attendance
Three of the country’s best players announced their top schools list on Sunday and the Buckeyes were represented in each and every one.
Jackson (Tenn.) 4-star offensive lineman Trey Smith told ESPN.com why the Buckeyes were joining Alabama, Tennessee, Clemson, Notre Dame and Ole Miss on his list.
“Ohio State made my top six because you know, Urban Meyer,” Davis told ESPN. “He’s an excellent man you know, great, almost like a father-figure. Coach Stud (Greg Studrawa), the offensive line coach, he’s doing great things down there. The tradition down there is really appealing to me.”
Earlier in the day, the Buckeyes made the final cut for another 2017 4-star, defensive back Jamyest Williams from Grayson, Ga. Ohio State is hoping to see Williams again on campus this summer.
— Jamyest Williams (@Jamy0602) July 10, 2016
Ohio State has been recruiting Williams hard – especially Kerry Coombs – but the buzz at The Opening still seem to have him leaning towards South Carolina, Clemson and Georgia.
Finally, as we told you in last night’s Dotting the ‘Eyes, Ohio State made the final four for 5-star 2018 defensive lineman Xavier Thomas out of Florence, S.C. Thomas has really become a favorite of the Ohio State coaching staff but it won’t be easy to get him out of the Palmetto State.
— Xavier Thomas 1️⃣9️⃣ (@atxlete) July 10, 2016
Random Notes from The Opening final day
- Detroit MLK athlete Ambry Thomas played wide receiver for Hypercool because Nico Collins and Donovan Peoples-Jones were both out with injuries and absolutely dominated the morning. He caught at least four touchdowns of more than 40 yards, including one play where he dusted Ohio State linebacker commitment Antjuan Simmons.
- I don’t know if he’ll end up at Syracuse, where he’s committed, but there’s no doubt that quarterback Tommy DeVito can play at the college level. He was absolutely on fire early Sunday for Team Lunarspeed and then inexplicably not given the start in their final game of the day.
- Best quarterback of the week in my mind? Stanford commit Davis Mills. Consistent and accurate and a big arm to boot.
- I know the Buckeyes commitments didn’t fare as well as they wanted to – especially against the Hypercool team that was comprised of a few Michigan verbals – but they all played big roles for their teams and that was good to see. Hypercool really got going Sunday morning behind quarterback Myles Brennan, a LSU commitment, and Michigan pledge Dylan McCaffrey wasn’t the one making the splash plays to Ambry Thomas.
- Joseph Lewis from California may be the best receiver in the camp. He’s the one Shaun Wade pointed to as the toughest he faced.
- Josh Myers had a good week but it seemed that the Buckeyes commitment was penalized a bit in the Final 5 Lineman Challenge because he was unable to take part in all of the 1-on-1s thanks to Ohio rules against players wearing pads in the summer.