Nike’s "The Opening" Preview: Rosters, Video Highlights and Must-Watch Players

 

Nike’s “The Opening” has become one of the biggest and most anticipated annual offseason events on the college football recruiting calendar.

Last year’s extravaganza featured some of the biggest names of the 2014 recruiting class. This year’s event, which will be held at Nike Headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon from July 5-10, will give many of the top blue-chip prospects in the 2015 class the chance to compete and show off their skills against their fellow highly touted peers.

162 of the top high school football players in the country will battle it out for supremacy in SPARQ workout testing as well as a 7-on-7 tournament. Nike has already announced the rosters for the six teams that will be competing, with quarterbacks set to be drafted following the completion of their Elite 11 Finals workout on July 7th.

Here’s a look at the full rosters for each team, video highlights and must-watch players for this year’s much-anticipated event.

*Note: Prospect ratings are based on 247Sports’ Composite Rankings

 

APOCALYPSE

Apocalypse

RB Damien Harris, Madison Southern (Berea, Kentucky)

RB Jacques Patrick, Timber Creek (Orlando, Florida)

WR Calvin Ridley, Monarch (Coconut Creek, Florida)

WR Deddrick Thomas, Central (Memphis, Tennessee)

WR Deondre Farrier, Lake Nona (Orlando, Florida)

WR Desean Holmes, Bishop Alemany (Mission Hills, California)

WR Equanimeous St. Brown, Servite (Anaheim, California)

TE Jordan Davis, Clear Lake (Houston, Texas)

OL Fred Ulu-Perry, St. Louis (Honolulu, Hawaii)

OL Lester Cotton, Central (Tuscaloosa, Alabama)

OL Matthew Burrell, Hylton (Woodbridge, Virginia)

DL Daron Payne, Shades Valley (Irondale, Alabama)

DL Michael Barnett, Woodland (Dorchester, South Carolina)

DL Rasheem Green, Serra (Gardena, California)

LB Joshua McMillon, Whitehaven (Memphis, Tennessee)

LB Malik Jefferson, Poteet (Mesquite, Texas)

LB Porter Gustin, Salem Hills (Salem Hills, Utah)

CB Jaylon Lane, Nacogdoches (Nacogdoches, Texas)

CB Mark Fields, Hough (Cornelius, North Carolina)

CB Mook Reynolds, Northern Guilford (Greensboro, North Carolina)

CB Xavier Lewis, East St. John (Reserve, Louisiana)

S Frank Buncom, St. Augustine (San Diego, California)

S Justin Reid, Dutchtown (Geismar, Louisiana)

ATH Tyler Phillips, North Little Rock (North Little Rock, Arkansas)

  • No. of 5-Star Recruits: 4
  • No. of 4-Star Recruits: 16
  • No. of 3-Star Recruits: 3

 


Must-Watch Offensive Player
: RB Damien Harris

It’s easy to make the argument that Harris is the top overall running back prospect in the 2015 class. The 5’11’’, 205-pound 5-star prospect is coming off an outstanding junior season, in which he rushed for over 2,600 yards, scored 42 touchdowns and earned Gatorade Kentucky Player of the Year honors.

Harris possesses legitimate 4.4 speed. He should put up some of the fastest times of any player in the workout portion of the event.


Must-Watch Defensive Player
: LB Malik Jefferson

There aren’t many other linebackers in the 2015 class who have the combination of size, speed, lateral quickness and natural playmaking instincts that Malik Jefferson has to offer. The 6’2”, 220-pound OLB has already caused quite a buzz this offseason, following his performance at the Dallas SPARQ Combine, where he clocked a 4.56 40-yard dash and recorded a 35-inch vertical leap.

Jefferson is an absolutely outstanding athlete. He should flourish at “The Opening” and further cement his 5-star status.


 

ALPHA PRO

alpha

RB Mark Walton, Booker T. Washington (Miami, Florida)

RB Taj Griffin, McEachern (Powder Springs, Georgia)

WR Cordell Broadus, Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas, Nevada)

WR Derrick Dillon, Pike (Franklinton, Louisiana)

WR George Campbell, East Lake (Tarpon Springs, Florida)

WR Ryan Newsome, Aledo (Aledo, Texas)

TE C.J. Conrad, LaGrange-Keystone (LaGrange-Keystone, Ohio)

OL Jerry Tillery, Evangel Christian (Shreveport, Louisiana)

OL Maea Teuhema, Keller (Keller, Texas)

OL Noah Green, Boiling Springs (Spartanburg, South Carolina)

DL Adam McLean, Quince Orchard (Quince Orchard, Maryland)

DL Josh Sweat, Oscar Smith (Chesapeake, Virginia)

DL Kahlil McKenzie, Clayton Valley (Concord, California)

LB Cecil Cherry, Victor Christian Academy (Lakeland, Florida)

LB Osa Masina, Brighton (Salt Lake City, Utah)

LB Tevon Coney, Palm Beach Gardens (Palm Beach Gardens, Florida)

CB Darius Slayton, Greater Atlanta Christian (Norcross, Georgia)

CB Rico McGraw, Ensworth (Nashville, Tennessee)

CB Tarvarus McFadden, American Heritage (Plantation, Florida)

CB Tyler Green, DeMatha Catholic (Hyattsville, Maryland)

S Jaquan Johnson, Killian (Miami, Florida)

S Will Sunderland, Midwest City (Midwest City, Oklahoma)

ATH A.J. Turner, Centreville (Clifton, Virginia)

ATH Torrance Gibson, American Heritage (Plantation, Florida)

  • No. of 5-Star Recruits: 6
  • No. of 4-Star Recruits: 13
  • No. of 3-Star Recruits: 5


Must-Watch Offensive Player
: WR George Campbell

Campbell already knows what it’s like to generate a stir at “The Opening.” As one of the few juniors invited to the 2013 event, the 6’3”, 185-pound speedster wowed onlookers last summer, when he shredded a 4.37 40-yard dash, recorded a 37-inch vertical leap and totaled a whopping 115.5 SPARQ rating, which was better than most of the seniors in attendance.

That sensational showing helped Campbell gain a reputation as one of the true physical freaks of the 2015 class.  The 5-star pass-catcher should once again cause a stir with his eye-popping workout numbers.

 

Must-Watch Defensive Player: DL Josh Sweat

The 2015 defensive end class is loaded with supremely gifted athletes, but the most intriguing of them all is Virginia native Josh Sweat.  After putting together a breakout junior campaign in 2013, in which he totaled 22 sacks and 94 tackles, Sweat entered the offseason with plenty of momentum. He managed to build on that momentum with a tremendous performance at the Charlotte SPARQ Combine. He clocked a sub 4.6 40-yard dash, recorded a 35.5-inch vertical leap and finished with a 128.3 SPARQ rating, which was the best of any prospect in attendance.

The 6’5”, 230-pound edge-rusher is incredibly explosive and fluid for a player his size. Sweat has a chance to move into the “No. 1 overall recruit” conversation if he can put together the type of performance he’s capable of in the combine portion of the event.


 

FLY RUSH

flyrush

RB Bryce Love, Wake Forest-Rolesville (Wake Forest, North Carolina)

RB Dexter Williams, West Orange (Winter Garden, Florida)

WR DaMarkus Lodge, Cedar Hill (Cedar Hill, Texas)

WR Lawrence Cager, Calvert Hall (Baltimore, Maryland)

WR Trent Irwin, Hart (Newhall, California)

WR Van Jefferson, Ravenwood (Brentwood, Tennessee)

TE Chris Clark, Avon Old Farms (Avon, Connecticut)

OL Chuma Edoga, McEachern (Powder Springs, Georgia)

OL Dallas Warmack, Mays (Atlanta, Georgia)

OL Drew Richmond, Memphis University School (Memphis, Tennessee)

OL Tommy Hatton, St. Joseph Regional (Metuchen, New Jersey)

DL Byron Cowart, Armwood (Seffner, Florida)

DL Jonathan Ledbetter Tucker (Tucker, Georgia)

DL Neville Gallimore, Canada Prep (St. Catharines, Ontario)

LB Darrin Kirkland, Lawrence Central (Indianapolis, Indiana)

LB Josh Smith, Oakland (Murfreesboro, Tennessee)

LB Roquan Smith, Macon County (Montezuma, Georgia)

CB Kendall Sheffield, Fort Bend Marshall (Missouri City, Texas)

CB Kris Boyd, Gilmer (Gilmer, Texas)

CB Stephen Johnson, San Leandro (San Leandro, California)

CB Tyrek Cole, Miramar (Miramar, Florida)

S Calvin Brewton, Central (Miami, Florida)

S Kendrell McFadden, Miramar (Miramar, Florida)

ATH Terry Godwin, Callaway (Hogansville, Georgia)

  • No. of 5-Star Recruits: 5
  • No. of 4-Star Recruits: 16
  • No. of 3-Star Recruits: 3

 

 

Must-Watch Offensive Player: WR Damarkus Lodge

Lodge is already being labeled by many recruiting services as the top wide receiver prospect in the 2015 class. After watching Lodge tear apart defenses during his spectacular junior season, in which he hauled in 70 passes for over 1,200 yards and scored 24 touchdowns, it’s certainly tough to disagree with that assessment.

The 6’3”, 190-pound Texas A&M commit is the definition of smooth. Lodge runs remarkably well for a receiver his size, creating mismatches with any corner he squares off with. It should be fascinating to see how he fares against some of the bigger cornerbacks he’ll face in the 7-on-7 challenge.

 

Must-Watch Defensive Player: DL Byron Cowart

Cowart packs plenty of athleticism and explosiveness into his long and chiseled 6’3”, 254-pound frame. The 5-star DE is coming off an extremely impressive showing at Nike’s Orlando Training Camp event, where he outclassed the competition and earned DL MVP honors.

The Florida native, who racked up 13 sacks and 72 total tackles in 2013, has shown a great interest in the University of Oregon, so it would only seem fitting for him to put on a show in the Beaver State.


 

Land Sharks

landsharks

RB Jordan Scarlett, St. Thomas Aquinas (Fort Lauderdale, Florida)

RB Soso Jamabo, Plano West (Plano, Texas)

WR John Burt, Lincoln (Tallahassee, Florida)

WR Kemah Siverand, Cypress Ridge (Houston, Texas)

WR K.J. Hill, North Little Rock (North Little Rock, Arkansas)

WR Tyron Johnson, Warren Easton (New Orleans, Louisiana)

TE Jackson Harris, Central (Columbia, Tennessee)

OL Andre James, Herriman (Herriman, Utah)

OL Javon Patterson, Petal (Petal, Mississippi)

OL Richie Petitbon, Gonzaga Prep (Washington D.C.)

DL Austin Bryant, Thomas County Central (Thomasville, Georgia)

DL Daylon Mack, Gladewater (Gladewater, Texas)

DL Keisean Lucier-South, Orange Lutheran (Orange, California)

DL Kendell Jones, Clay-Chalkville (Pinson, Alabama)

LB Chad Smith, Dominion (Sterling, Virginia)

LB Justin Hilliard, St. Xavier (Cincinnati, Ohio)

LB Sherrod Pittman, First Coast (Jacksonville, Florida)

CB Donte Jackson, Riverdale (Jefferson, Louisiana)

CB Kevin Toliver, Trinity Christian (Jacksonville, Florida)

CB Montrell Custis, Lovejoy (Hampton, Georgia)

CB P.J. Mbanasor, Hendrickson (Pflugerville, Texas)

S Deionte Thompson, West Orange-Stark (Orange, Texas)

S Deontay Anderson, Manvel (Alvin, Texas)

S Shawn Burgess-Becker, Monarch (Coconut Creek, Florida)

  • No. of 5-Star Recruits: 7
  • No. of 4-Star Recruits: 14
  • No. of 3-Star Recruits: 3

 

 

Must-Watch Offensive Player: WR Tyron Johnson

Widely regarded as the top overall recruit in the state of Louisiana as well as one of the top receiver prospects in the 2015 class, Tyron Johnson is a playmaker who’s capable of putting together a truly buzz-worthy showing at “The Opening.” The 6’1”, 185-pound 5-star WR was one of the top performers at the New Orleans SPARQ Combine, where he recorded an impressive 4.52 time in the 40-yard dash.

Johnson is one of the most physically gifted, technically sound and savvy receivers that will be in attendance at this year’s event. He’s going to be a handful for any DB that tries to match up with him in 7-on-7′s.

 

Must-Watch Defensive Player: CB Kevin Toliver

Size is the story of the 2015 cornerback class, as many of the premier players at the position measure in at over 6’0 tall. Kevin Toliver, the top corner in this year’s class, fits the profile, standing 6’2”. Toliver’s size is just one of his many impressive physical attributes, though. Not only is the LSU commit an elite athlete, he also possesses the cover skills, closing speed and ball skills that you look for in a lock down corner.

It should be a treat to see Toliver battle with some of the nation’s top receivers. He’ll have a great opportunity to further enhance his reputation as a shut down cover man.


 

Mach Speed

machspeed

RB JaMycal Hasty, Longview (Longview, Texas)

RB Mike Weber, Cass Tech (Detroit, Michigan)

WR Da’Vante Phillips, Central (Miami, Florida)

WR Jovon Durante, Norland (Miami, Florida)

WR C.J. Sanders, Notre Dame (Sherman Oaks, California)

WR Preston Williams, Lovejoy (Hampton, Georgia)

TE Auden Tate, Wharton (Tampa, Florida)

OL Dru Samia, San Ramon Valley (Danville, California)

OL Mitch Hyatt, North Gwinnett (Suwanee, Georgia)

OL Quarvez Boulware, Friendship (Washington DC)

OL Tristen Hoge, Highland (Pocatello, Idaho)

DL Breiden Fehoko, Farrington (Honolulu, Hawaii)

DL Natrez Patrick, Mays (Atlanta, Georgia)

DL Terry Beckner, East St. Louis (East St. Louis, Illinois)

LB Adonis Thomas, Central Gwinnett (Lawrenceville, Georgia)

LB Ben Humphreys, Mater Dei (Santa Ana, California)

LB Cameron Smith, Granite Bay (Granite Bay, California)

CB Holton Hill, Lamar (Houston, Texas)

CB Levonta Taylor, Ocean Lakes (Virginia Beach, Virginia)

CB Minkah Fitzpatrick, St. Peter’s Prep (Jersey City, New Jersey)

CB Shaun Crawford, St. Edward (Lakewood, Ohio)

S Derwin James, Haines City (Haines City, Florida)

S Marvell Tell, Crespi (Encino, California)

ATH Ray-Ray McCloud, Sickles (Tampa, Florida)

  • No. of 5-Star Recruits: 5
  • No. of 4-Star Recruits: 16
  • No. of 3-Star Recruits: 3

 

 

Must-Watch Offensive Player: OL Mitch Hyatt

Though “The Opening” is an event where skill-position players are usually the main attraction, don’t be surprised if one of the blue-chip offensive lineman in this year’s class: Mitch Hyatt, ends up stealing the show this year. No other lineman in the 2015 class possesses the combination of size, physical ability, technical prowess and college-ready skills that Hyatt does.

The 6’5”, 271-pound Clemson commit is the type of polished prospect who should excel in both drills and workouts.

 

Must-Watch Defensive Player: S Derwin James

At 6’2’’, 201-pounds, Derwin James bears a strong resemblance to another former 5-star safety from Florida: Ha’Sean Clinton-Dix. Not only does James have a similar physical build as the 2014 first-round draft pick, he also possesses the same caliber of elite athleticism, which is what separates him from the rest of this year’s safety crop.

The Florida State commit is one of the few two-time invitees to “The Opening.” At least year’s event, he put together an eye-opening performance, clocking a 4.52 40-yard dash, jumping 34.9 inches in the vertical leap and totaling a 108.5 SPARQ rating. James should have little trouble besting those numbers and finishing as one of the top overall performers in workouts.

 


 

VAPOR CARBON

vapor

RB Nicholas Brossette, University Lab (Baton Rouge, Louisiana)

RB Saquon Barkley, Whitehall (Whitehall, Pennsylvania)

WR Christian Kirk, Saguaro (Scottsdale, Arizona)

WR Deon Cain, Tampa Bay Tech (Tampa, Florida)

WR Juwan Johnson, Glassboro (Glassboro, New Jersey)

WR Kirk Merritt, Destrehan (Destrehan, Louisiana)

TE Will Gragg, Pine Bluff (Pine Bluff, Arkansas)

OL Darryl Williams, Jess Lanier (Bessemer, Alabama)

OL Keenan Walker, Chaparral (Scottsdale, Arizona)

OL Martez Ivey, Apopka (Apopka, Florida)

DL Chauncey Rivers, Stephenson (Stone Mountain, Georgia)

DL Jashon Cornell, Cretin-Derham Hall (St. Paul, Minnesota)

DL Rashan Gary, Scotch Plains-Fanwood (Scotch Plains, New Jersey)

DL Tim Settle, Stonewall Jackson (Manassas, Virginia)

LB Arthur McGinnis, Warren Easton (New Orleans, Louisiana)

LB John Houston, Serra (Gardena, California)

LB Quarte Sapp, Milton (Alpharetta, Georgia)

CB Dechaun Holiday, Mission Hills (San Marcos, California)

CB Duke Shelley, Tucker (Tucker, Georgia)

CB Iman Marshall, Long Beach Poly (Long Beach, California)

CB Isaiah Langley, Foothill (Pleasanton, California)

S Justin Dunning, Whitehouse (Whitehouse, Texas)

S Larry Pryor, Sulphur Springs (Sulphur Springs, Texas)

ATH Jordan Cronkrite, Westminster Christian (Miami, Florida)

  • No. of 5-Star Recruits: 5
  • No. of 4-Star Recruits: 16
  • No. of 3-Star Recruits: 3

 

 

Must-Watch Offensive Player: WR Kirk Merritt

Kirk Merritt was already a known commodity in recruiting circles at the start of the offseason. But Merritt managed to garner a whole new level of hype following his dazzling performance at Nike’s New Orleans Combine. The Louisiana native bested every other prospect in attendance with a 43-foot power-ball throw and an incredible 45.8-inch vertical leap. He also finished fourth among competitors with a 4.1 second 20-yard shuttle time. Merritt’s 138.8  SPARQ rating was easily the best score of the New Orleans Combine, and it was the second best overall score in the nation.

After seeing how the 5’11”, 206-pound 4-star WR performed down in New Orleans, there’s now plenty of intrigue and excitement surrounding Merritt’s appearance at “The Opening.”

 

Must-Watch Defensive Player: LB John Houston

When you play for a talent-stocked powerhouse like California’s Junipero Serra High School, it’s certainly not easy to stand out. However, that didn’t stop John Houston from stealing the spotlight in 2013, when he racked up 137 total tackles and emerged as one of the most dominant defenders in the country.

The 6’3”, 211-pound All-American may still be a bit light for an inside linebacker, but he possesses the complete package in terms of physical ability and football skills. Though he won’t have the chance to light up any ball-carriers at “The Opening” you can bet that Houston is definitely going to make his presence felt.

 


 

Elite 11 Quarterbacks

elite 11

Alex Malzone, Brother Rice (Bloomfield Hills, Michigan)

Ben Hicks, Midway (Waco, Texas)

Blake Barnett, Santiago (Corona, California)

Brady White, Hart (Newhall, California)

Brandon Wimbush, St. Peter’s Prep (Jersey City, New Jersey)

Brian Lewerke, Pinnacle (Phoenix, Arizona)

De’Andre Johnson, First Coast (Jacksonville, Florida)

Deondre Francois, IMG Academy (Bradenton, Florida)

Drew Lock, Lee’s Summit (Lee’s Summit, Missouri)

Jarrett Stidham, Stephenville, (Stephenville, Texas)

Josh Rosen, St. John Bosco (Bellflower, California)

Kyler Murray, Allen (Allen, Texas)

Ricky Town, St. Bonaventure (Ventura, California)

Ross Bowers, Bothell (Bothell, Washington)

Ryan Brand, U-D Jesuit (Detroit, Michigan)

Sam Darnold San Clemente (San Clemente, California)

Sheriron Jones Rancho Verde (Moreno Valley, California)

Travis Waller, Servite (Anaheim, California)

  • No. of 5-Star Recruits: 9
  • No. of 4-Star Recruits: 6
  • No. of 3-Star Recruits: 3

Must-Watch Player: Kyler Murray

Murray has already drawn comparisons to former Heisman-winner Johnny Manziel, and that’s not just because he happens to be committed to Manziel’s alma mater: Texas A&M. Like Manziel, Murray is a dynamic dual-threat weapon at the quarterback position, who is capable of carving up defenses with both his arm and his legs. He proved that during his electric junior campaign, in which he totaled over 4,900 yards of offense, accounted for 65 total touchdowns and led the Eagles on an undefeated run to a Texas 5A D1 state title.

The 5’11”, 180-pound two-sport star is one of the most exciting players who will be in attendance at this year’s event.


Complete Combined Totals

  • No. of 5-Star Recruits: 35
  • No. of 4-Star Recruits: 100
  • No. of 3-Star Recruits: 26
  • Unranked Recruits: 1

Number of Prospects By State/Province

  • Florida: 32
  • California: 24
  • Texas: 21
  • Georgia 16
  • Louisiana: 9
  • Tennessee: 7
  • Virginia: 7
  • New Jersey: 5
  • Alabama: 4
  • Arizona: 3
  • Arkansas: 3
  • Maryland: 3
  • North Carolina: 3
  • Ohio: 3
  • Utah: 3
  • Hawaii: 2
  • Missouri: 2
  • South Carolina: 2
  • Washington DC: 2
  • Connecticut: 1
  • Idaho: 1
  • Illinois: 1
  • Indiana: 1
  • Kentucky: 1
  • Michigan: 1
  • Nevada: 1
  • Oklahoma: 1
  • Ontario: 1
  • Pennsylvania: 1
  • Washington: 1

*All Photos and Highlights Courtesy of StudentSports.com

Tags: College Football College Football Recruiting College Football Recruiting 2015 College Football Recruiting 2015 Prospects Nike The Opening Nike The Opening 2014

comments powered by Disqus