Dotting the ‘Eyes at The Opening: J.K. Dobbins shines, Cam Akers still feeling Ohio State, Lamont Wade and more
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.
Ohio State commits, targets shine during Nike+ Football Ratings Championships
It’s been discussed ad nauseam, but to be clear Ohio State’s 2017 recruiting class is shaping up to be really special. On Friday morning in Oregon, the Nike+ Football Ratings Championship took place at Bo Jackson Field and Ohio State commitments and targets were all over the final rankings.
Top test scores at #TheOpening:
5. D. Felix -139.38
4. D. Hunter -139.53
3. C. Akers -140.13
2. J. Okudah -142.56
1. J. Dobbins -146.76
— Tyler Donohue (@TDsTake) July 8, 2016
That, of course, is just the final five from this morning’s competition but there’s a more than reasonable chance the top three finishers could all end up in Ohio playing their college ball at Ohio State next season. There were a number of other Buckeyes who had strong days as The Opening really got underway.
Tate Martell told Lando10 he finished with the third-highest quarterback score on the day, putting up a 4.72 in the 40-yard dash and a 115 Nike+ score. The powerball toss – a little irrelevant for a quarterback – was the worst event of the day for the athletic quarterback from Bishop Gorman in Las Vegas.
J.K. Dobbins was exceptional Friday morning, his combination of speed, shiftiness and power is incredibly impressive and so is his form as he tried to represent the Buckeyes out here in Oregon.
— #ArmyBowl (@ArmyAllAmerican) July 8, 2016
Ohio State 5-star wide receiver targets Trevon Grimes (4.46 in the 40) and Tyjon Lindsey (3.86 in the pro-shuttle) both put up excellent times and highlighted the differences in their game but still showcased why they’re so coveted. Grimes will be at Friday Nights Lights on July 22, according to his mother, so the Buckeyes will get a shot to solidify their standing with the country’s fifth-ranked wide receiver.
Offensive line commitment Josh Myers continues to look the part, checking in at 310 pounds and once again standing above most of his peers in sheer athleticism. Myers, the country’s top-ranked offensive lineman, will get to see how he stacks up againsts the best pass rushers in the country this weekend and he’s looking forward to the challenge.
Josh Myers weighed in at 310 pounds, ran a 5.13 – said he's sure he'll have a better Nike+ score than the regional finals in Columbus
— Jeremy Birmingham (@Birm) July 8, 2016
The event’s fastest man was Calabasas (Calif.) defensive back Darnay Holmes, who ran a 4.32 in the 40-yard dash, a time he was very happy with. Holmes excels in pass coverage and one Ohio State assistant called him the “best cornerback they’ve ever had in camp” after last summer’s Friday Night Lights and he’ll return to Columbus for the event in two weeks.
Lamont Wade to visit for Friday Night Lights, still thinking hard about Buckeyes
Speaking of Friday Night Lights, another of the Buckeyes long-time targets will be in attendance, according to his father.
“We’ll definitely be at Friday Night Lights,” Carlton Wade, the father of Clairton (Pa.) cornerback Lamont, told Landof10 on Friday. “He’s still very interested in Ohio State.”
The Buckeyes were – at one time – the favorite to land Wade but in recent months it’s been Penn State that began to gain a stronghold, at least according to public perception. That may or may not be the case, but there’s no hurry to make a decision.
“We’ve decided to just take it slow,” Carlton Wade said. “There’s no reason to hurry. We need to look at every program, see what happens, because a lot can change. When you’re a 4-star, 5-star player, these schools are really coming at you.”
The depth chart at Ohio State – or the players rumored to be leaning toward the Buckeyes – has played a role in Wade’s decision to slow things down. Another factor, the chance to enroll early in Columbus, had been named as a bit of sticking point, but that appears to be handled.
“(Ohio State) said they’d be able to work that out,” Wade said. “If (Lamont) decides on going there, they’ll take care of that. He wants to get in early, get comfortable and make sure he plays early. That’s an important thing.”
Cam Akers can ‘be great’ at Ohio State
The Buckeyes have a commitment from a talented 4-star running back in J.K. Dobbins but they’re not done chasing a tailback and their top – and only – remaining target at the position is Clinton, Miss., 5-star tailback Cam Akers.
The country’s second-ranked back, Akers was exceptional on Friday morning, posting a blazing 4.41 40-yard dash while checking in at 5-foot-11 and 213 pounds.
Following the morning’s session, I had a chance to talk to a few people close to Akers and got some thoughts on where things stand between he and the Buckeyes. There’s a general “vibe” from those in attendance (media) that screams “there’s no way he’s going to leave the south to go to Ohio State” but the people we talked to today do not buy that at all, and they’d know pretty well what he’s thinking.
“Listen, I told Cam – and I’m a Michigan fan – that if you want to ‘be great’,” one source said. “You go to Ohio State and ‘be great.’ They’ve done it, you can see the results. They know what they’re doing up there.”
Akers is being recruited by everyone, and the former Alabama commitment will have his choice of schools whenever he decides to make his final college choice. One interesting “thing” stuck out today: the fact that the Buckeyes don’t have a “Plan B” behind Akers, they’re not using someone else to push or pressure him, is a very good thing for Ohio State. Coaches from schools all over the country are telling him “you’re our guy” while they’re aggressively and actively recruiting other players at the position. Ohio State is not doing that.
Akers will be back in Columbus for the third time when he shows up at Friday Night Lights and although the work isn’t close to done, there’s plenty of reason to be optimistic if you’re hoping he ends up a Buckeye.
Random Notes from Friday at The Opening
- There’ a lot of positive vibes around Baron Browning and Ohio State. There are a few Buckeyes commitments who think he’s close to “done” and think Friday Night Lights could seal the deal.
- Wyatt Davis is big, big kid. He told me he’s going to be looking at the guys he faces during the Linemen Challenge and then trying to determine who to recruit, but expect both he and Haskell Garrett to be all over Utah’s Jay Tufele and Maryland 5-star defensive end Chase Young.
- There’s still some buzz around Oklahoma and Jeffrey Okudah but the Buckeyes are in good shape and certainly not going to be taking their positioning with him for granted.
- Shaun Wade arrived this morning and did not participate in the Nike+ competition but will be on-hand for 7-on-7 events after arriving from the Peach Jam in Atlanta.
- Texas linebacker Anthony Hines, the country’s top-ranked inside linebacker, was donning an Ohio State backpack all day and arrived at the event wearing a Buckeyes t-shirt. His father told me that after his most recent visit to Columbus he “can see why Ohio State gets the players they get” and that Hines talked to Urban Meyer, Luke Fickell and Tim Beck before embarking for Oregon.
- Donovan Peoples-Jones and Najee Harris both sat out of the Nike+ competition, choosing to play it cautious with some nagging injuries.
Unless otherwise noted, all rankings come courtesy of 247Sports.com.
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