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July 5, 2012
Opening salvo: Ten to watch
BEAVERTON, Ore.: The Opening features many of the nation's top prospects. Here are 10 players to watch this weekend, both on the field and off, with recruitment:
QB Max Browne, 6-5/214, Sammamish (Wash.) Skyline: Rivals.com's top-rated quarterback struggled at times during 7-on-7 play at the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge in Atlanta a couple weeks ago. There are varying opinions as to why, including that his teammates on the West team were not up to par, whether the travel from Seattle played a factor, or whether Browne had never seen that level of talent before. This weekend will be an important step for the five-star to prove he belongs with the nation's elite.
OT Nico Falah, 6-4/275, Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco: The top-rated offensive tackle is making his commitment after practice on July 11 and many believe USC is the far-and-away leader. But Falah is expected to take an unofficial visit to Oregon sometime after The Opening. According to sources, UCLA has backed away in recent days, but Falah has always been intrigued by Oregon's program. His playing style fits the Ducks' system and Oregon could be a surprise contender in his recruitment.
LB Reuben Foster, 6-2/242, Auburn (Ala.) High: The second-best prospect in the 2013 class has had an interesting couple weeks. Despite a knee injury, Foster looked great at the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge and then made news when he told media outlets that he is planning to play in college with Tray Matthews, a Georgia commit. Whether that means Foster, an Alabama pledge, is flipping to the Bulldogs or Matthews is switching to the Crimson Tide or both players end up elsewhere is unknown, but an intriguing development.
CB Vernon Hargreaves III, 5-11/185, Tampa (Fla.) Wharton: Kendall Fuller made a case for being the nation's top-rated cornerback at the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge, but according to reports, Hargreaves was outstanding at IMG this past week. Both will be at The Opening, so we'll get to see a comparison of their strengths and weaknesses against the same competition. This is Hargreaves' opportunity on a national scale to prove he's the best. Fuller is never afraid to compete so it will be fun to watch.
ATH Derrick Henry, 6-3/240, Yulee (Fla.) High: Henry came to The Opening last summer as an underclassman and was one of the most interesting prospects in attendance. He plays running back, but was also used as a tight end/slot receiver during 7-on-7 play and had big advantages because of his size and speed. What's also interesting about Henry is that he was committed to Georgia, but has now opened things up and he's said Alabama is his new leader. This is his chance to clarify exactly where his recruitment stands and to see if any other team can beat the Crimson Tide.
QB Shane Morris, 6-3/190, Warren (Mich.) De La Salle Collegiate: There has been ongoing debate whether Morris is a five-star prospect, and so far he has not joined that elite list. But an outstanding performance at The Opening could spark more talk. At the IMG tournament this past week, Morris was hot and cold, but when he was hitting his receivers, the lefty Michigan commit backed up his ranking. Four of the best quarterbacks in the country will be at this event, so this could be Morris' chance to prove he's at the highest level.
DE Torrodney Prevot, 6-4/215, Houston (Texas) Alief Taylor: There was talk going into the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge that Prevot might struggle because he's undersized for defensive end, and that proved true. The 215-pound prospect had a tough time going against massive offensive tackles, but did use his speed on the outside well. Then at the USC camp, the coaches were reportedly raving about his abilities. Is he a surefire defensive end? Maybe he's a hybrid outside linebacker? Many questions could be answered this weekend.
WR Ricky Seals-Jones, 6-5/220, Sealy (Texas) High: Seals-Jones was not impressive during 1-on-1 play at the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge, but really blossomed the next day during 7-on-7 play. The big prospect is still feeling out the position since he plays quarterback and safety in high school. Still, he has plenty of skill, is crazy-athletic for his size and could be a special player at the next level.
QB Tyrone Swoopes, 6-4/220, Whitewright (Texas) High: Events such as The Opening and the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge do not play to Swoopes' strengths, which are getting out of the pocket, making things happen on the run and picking up yards with his dazzling athleticism. Dropping back in the pocket and picking apart defenses in 1-on-1 or 7-on-7 isn't what Swoopes does best. Still, in Atlanta he was magical at times, leading the Southwest team and proving he was a five-star prospect. Another good showing in Oregon is crucial to his development.
WR Laquon Treadwell, 6-3/195, Crete (Ill.) Crete-Monee: Treadwell is not afraid to travel and he's not afraid to compete. The four-star was at the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge two weeks ago, the B2G Elite Camp in Thousand Oaks, Calif., last weekend and now he's ready for The Opening. Even more interesting is that Treadwell, who said at B2G that Michigan is the team to beat in his recruitment, might make a decision this weekend, according to Midwest analyst Josh Helmholdt. We'll keep a close eye on him on the field and off -- if Treadwell decides to call it for the Wolverines or another team.