On Wednesday, Nike’s premier recruiting combine, The Opening, will officially kick off at its headquarters in Beaverton, Ore. The event – the culmination of nearly five months of regional combines – brings 166 of the country’s best high school football players to the Pacific Northwest for a slice of “Football Heaven.”
Half competition and half celebration, Nike puts on a show that every high school football player in the country dreams of being a part of. There are three primary events that will take place over the week: The Nike+ Football Rating Championship, the Final Five Lineman Challenge and the Nike 7on Championship, which will pit the country’s top prospects against one another in an intense 7-on-7 tournament.
- What: Nike’s The Opening
- Where: Nike, Beaverton (Ore.)
- When: July 6-10
- TV: ESPNU
- Coverage: Dawgnation.com | Landof10.com | SECCountry.com
- Twitter: Jeff Sentell | Chris Kirschner | Jeremy Birmingham | Zach Abolverdi
Ohio State’s 2017 recruiting class is the country’s top-ranked class and knowing that, you’re smart to expect that the Buckeyes will be very well-represented in Oregon at The Opening.
In fact, no college football team has more committed players selected for the event, although two of the record 11 future Buckeyes picked will miss the event. This will mark the second time since The Opening began that Ohio State will have at least nine committed players in attendance: it also accomplished that in 2013.
Let’s take a closer look at the future Buckeys who will be representing for the school next week.
Quarterback • Tate Martell • Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas) • 7-on Team: Alpha Pro
Martell committed to Ohio State three weeks ago (June 12) and did so with one goal in mind: to help recruit the rest of the Buckeyes class at The Opening. The 5-foot-11, 205-pound, two-time national champion will get a chance to do just that as a number of the Buckeyes key targets and commits all find themselves on the same team. An Elite 11 Finalist, Martell has not lost a 7-on game in more than a year and because of that – and the weapons on his team – he’s one of the favorites to win MVP at the quarterback position.
Running back • J.K. Dobbins • LaGrange (La Grange, Texas) • 7-on Team: Lunarbeast
The country’s 50th-ranked prospect, Dobbins is likely to be one of the guys you hear the least about this week, but that’s not really his fault, per se. The running back position isn’t really utilized in the events and because of that they sort of get forgotten, although there are a few moments and opportunities to make a splash. In 2016, five Ohio State commitments (every one that was selected) played on Team Lunarbeast and that team bounced back from two early losses to win the 7-on National Championship.
Offensive lineman • Joshua Myers • Miamisburg (Ohio)
As the country’s third-ranked overall prospect, Myers is going to have a lot of eyes on him in Oregon. Coming out of Miamisburg, Myers specializes in the run-block game and he’ll get no such opportunity to do that in Beaverton, instead going one-on-one with the nation’s elite pass-rushers and testing his pass-protection abilities. He was an at-large selection for The Opening and he’s going into the event with a little bit to prove.
Offensive lineman • Wyatt Davis • St. John Bosco (Bellflower, Calif.)
Ohio State’s newest commitment, California 5-star prospect Wyatt Davis, will have an opportunity to show off his rare athleticism and versatility in Oregon. He’s a guard at St. John Bosco who could play tackle but he’s probably a bit more natural than Myers at this point in pass blocking. Because of that, the assumption is he’ll grade out a touch higher. One big key for Davis? The chance to get to meet a lot of his future teammates for the first time.
Offensive lineman • Jake Moretti • Pomona (Arvada, Colo.) (not attending)
Moretti came to Columbus and participated in the Nike regional in Ohio so that he could spend a little time at Ohio State and impressed everyone in attendance with his strength and impressive footwork. Two weeks ago he returned to Ohio to camp with the Buckeyes and injured his knee and that will keep him out of the event in Oregon. He’s scheduled to have surgery on July 7 and told Landof10.com last Thursday that he will make a full recovery.
Defensive lineman • Haskell Garrett • Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas)
One of the more interesting things to watch at The Opening are the hotly contested match-ups in the trenches and there are few prospects better in that capacity than the 4-star lineman from Las Vegas. The fourth-ranked defensive tackle in the country, Garrett will test his skills against not only the country’s top offensive linemen, but he’ll get to see how he stacks up against his higher-ranked peers, Marvin Wilson, Jay Tufele and Tyler Shelvin, each of whom will be on-hand in Oregon.
Linebacker • Antjuan Simmons • Pioneer (Ann Arbor, Mich.) • 7-on Team: Lunarbeast
When Simmons arrived Nike’s regional camp in Columbus he did so with a strained hamstring and didn’t anticipate performing as well as did, earning an invitation to The Opening as the best linebacker in the camp. He’s still nursing a little bit of a nagging injury, so it’s going to be interesting to see if the “juice” of the event pumps him up a bit or if he’ll take it a little bit easy with his senior season right around the corner. One thing is for sure, Simmons will be representing Ohio State and working hard on recruiting a few other linebackers to join him in Columbus.
Defensive back • Shaun Wade • Trinity Christian Academy (Jacksonville) • 7-on Team: Lunarbeast
The country’s second-ranked cornerback will attend The Opening, but he’ll arrive late on Thursday night. Wade will travel to Atlanta and play in Nike’s Peach Jam EYBL national championships on Tuesday, one of the premier basketball recruiting events in the nation, and participate there for two days.
Defensive back • Isaiah Pryor • IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.) • 7-on Team: Lunarbeast
Pryor spent most of June on campus at Ohio State and now he’s going to take what he picked up in Columbus to Oregon and put it to work. The nation’s third-ranked safety will impress the heck out of anyone who’s not seen him because he’s physically ready for college and will draw the “freak” label because of his physique. The real task for Pryor will be to show that he’s got the hips to stay in the secondary – and not move to linebacker as many believe he may in college – when he competes against the country’s best wide receivers.
Defensive back • Marcus Williamson • IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.) • 7-on Team: Lunarbeast
In January, Williamson decided to transfer from Westerville (Ohio) South High School to IMG Academy in Florida in an attempt to make sure he was ready for the rigors of Big Ten football. A month after he arrived in the Sunshine State he lit up the Nike regional in Orlando and earned an invitation to Football Heaven. This week, look for Williamson to bring the same steady, consistent play he’s become known for since he emerged as a national recruit two years ago. If there’s a guy that sometimes gets “forgotten” in the Buckeyes loaded recruiting class, it may be the 5-foot-9, 180-pound cornerback from Ohio and he’ll look for ways to make sure that doesn’t happen moving forward.
Athlete • Brendon White • Liberty (Olentangy, Ohio) • 7-on Team: Lunarbeast
Whatever position White plays this week – wide receiver is the safest bet – he’s going to excel. White has been working hard for the opportunity to measure his skills against the best of the best and there’s no event out there where he’ll get the chance to do that on this level. If there’s a “Whoa, That Kid is Ripped Award” that gets handed out, the 6-foot-2, 210-pound White will be a top contender.