On Sunday, Nike's The Opening held their Miami Regional at the American Heritage School in Plantation. There were 500-some of the best players from South Florida, with a couple others from further areas also in attendance. I was there to see the proceedings. Here are some of my notes:
QB play in South Florida is not very good
This isn't a shock, but the QB play at this event was sub-par to be sure. There were no elite players at this position at this event, and the performance of the QB position overall made the evals on WRs and DBs tough during the 1-on-1's.
If you're looking for a top tier P5 kid at QB, you're going to look outside of South Florida. That's the way things have been for years, and this year is no different.
A player with whom I was not impressed was Florida Gators commit and St. Thomas Aquinas QB Jake Allen. I've seen Allen in person at multiple games, 7on7s, camps, and this event over the past 2 years, and every time I've seen him I just feel lukewarm. Such was the case today. Allen sailed many throws on the day and just wasn't sharp in my eyes.
Now, that's not to say Allen is without talent. He's a solid 6'2"-6'3" and well built. He's balanced in the pocket and stands tall through his delivery. There are things to like there. But, at a 3-star level, not at his currently-rated 4-star level.
But, that's just my opinion.
In any event, the QB play overall at The Opening Miami regional was subpar. That much is a verifiable fact.
Some sleepers showed very well
In any event in South Florida, you're going to have a ton of skill position talent. Today, the top names did well (we'll get to them in a bit), but several unknown/under-the-radar kids bumped themselves up in my eyes.
At the absolute top of this list is Miami Central 2017 RB Kywan Smith. He's part of a two-headed RB attack with uber-super-duper-star 2019 RB James Cook, but Smith caught my attention early, and kept it all day. He has a lot of wiggle to his game, and was so elusive in the "Oklahoma" drill that he made 2 LBs fall to their knees with his impressive jukes. Smith is absolutely a P5 back in my eyes. He's not the starter on a National Championship team, but he's much more than a lower-tier prospect. A mid-tier P5 school (NC State, Iowa, or the like) would be wise to go after Smith.
DBs Naytron Culpepper (Carol City) and Brian Edwards (Miramar) were other players who played very well but don't have huge recruiting profiles. I think both of these players will see their offer lists and profiles increase through their senior years.
Fort Pierce Central's David Reese is an interesting prospect as a tweener S/OLB. He's got a good frame (6'2" 205ish), and I found myself catching him making plays throughout the competition day. He's a 2018 kid, so there's time for his profile to rise. But, after seeing him on Sunday, his is a name that I'll remember.
I tweeted about Calvary Christian MLB Diego Fagot (fuh-GO) the other day. Now, I'm writing about him on the site. Fagot's got good size at 6'2" 230lbs, and is a very good MLB prospect. He's a 2-down player (he struggles in pass coverage), but he's a great run defender, and would be a nice addition to the Canes' 2017 class.
Texas native LB Amaud Dalton came out to the Miami regional and did well. He has a nice offer list, and figures to be a nice get for a Big 12 team in this cycle.
Many, MANY no-shows
Here's just some of the names that didn't show up today:
- Canes RB commit Bentavious Thompson
- Canes S commit Billy Gibson
- WR Kevaughn Dingle
- CB Marco Wilson (was on hand, but did not compete)
- Canes RB commit Robert Burns (recovering from surgery per report)
- Canes DL commit Jon Ford
- among many others, which made a potentially epic event merely great....which I guess isn't too bad, when you think about it.
Just some quick thoughts:
- Miami Columbus CB Trajan Bandy can play. He's 5'8" but he's well built. Think Sam Bruce, but on defense. And, he has serious game. He was arguably the best DB on the field from start to finish today. Oklahoma is a good fit for Bandy, as they've done well with shorter DBs in recent years.
- St. Thomas Aquinas WR Trevon Grimes is very good. He's not a 5-star by mistake. He's not the best player at WR right now, but he's 6'4" with 4.46 speed (per Sunday's results), and that's a combination you don't see often. Originally from Indiana, Grimes' personality isn't what you'd expect from a SoFLA receiver. But, that's not bad. Just, different.
- Deerfield Beach WR Jerry Jeudy is seriously good. His ceiling might not be as high as Grimes', but if Jeudy goes to a school where he can be the #2 option, WATCH OUT. He'll eat up your #2 DB at the college level.
- Miami Central RB James Cook IS THE MAN. He was the best RB at Sunday's event AND IT WASN'T CLOSE. Yes, he's a 2019 kid, but man, that kid is good. So good. Incredibly good. Ridiculously good. Top 10 player in America kind of good. The only reason he didn't get an invite to The Opening is that they don't take current freshmen. Because yeah....HE'S STILL A FRESHMAN. Learn the name. You'll be seeing it for the next 15-20 years.
- American Heritage OL Tedarrell Slaton is every bit a 5-star player. He's a BEAST on the OL, and showed it with his performance on Sunday. He is in the 350-360 range, and will probably play outside at Tackle in HS. However, he looks like former All-Pro guard Damien Woody, and I think that he could have a similar kind of career moving forward. Everybody in America is going to offer Slaton this cycle. He's that good. If I'm Miami, I make him a very very high priority target for this class.
- Outside of Slaton, the OL group was strong. American Heritage OL Kai-Leon Herbert, Miami Norland OL Kadeem Telfort (a Florida commit and former Miami commit), and Miami Central OL Navaughn Donaldson (a Miami commit) were other players at the top of the group, and all are 4-star kids. It was tough for the DL to get much traction against these guys, and that's understandable. That group of 4 dominated their reps, and proved why they're so highly recruited.
- Miami Southridge TE Kemore Gamble, a Canes commit, is gonna be good. He was one of the best receivers at Sunday's event, and he had several good plays in half skeleton and 1on1's. The highlight of the day? A leaping 1-handed catch over a defender in the corner of the endzone, after which Gamble celebrated wildly. It made everybody on that end of the field ooh and ahh in awe of the play. The only drawback......I was tweeting at the time so I didn't get any video of it, and it happened right in front of my face. Sorry.
- Update: FOUND THE CATCH ON TWITTER
- Miami Columbus CB Christopher Henderson, another Canes commit, can fly. He was clocked at 4.35 in the 40, the fastest time of any The Opening regional so far, and that's legit. He had a good but not great day through the rest of the event, and there's development to be made here. But Henderson's speed is elite, and the rest will (hopefully) fall into place soon.
- Miami Central LB Waynmon Steed, yet another Canes commit, had a strong day. Steed, who missed his junior year after shoulder surgery, is looking like his old self on the field now. That's a good thing for Miami Central, and the Miami Hurricanes.
- Palm Beach Gardens LB VanDarius Cowan, and FSU commit, is huge. He was one of the more impressive physiques at the event. He looks the part of a defensive end, but did very well in the LB position drills. Good enough, in fact, that I, and others I spoke to on the day, think that he may have a chance to stay at LB at the next level.
- North Fort Myers RB Zaquandre White, an FSU commit, is very good. His physicality is something he couldn't fully display at a non-padded event such as this, but he's good. The thing that surprised me of his performance on Sunday was his ability to catch the ball. White did so at an elite level. In short, he's got the full package on the field.
- Flanagan 2017 CB Stanford Samuels III is an elite player. He's got the size, speed, and skills to be a difference maker from day 1 in college. That's probably going to be at Florida State, his father's alma mater, but it's worth noting nonetheless. Kid is a baller.
- Underclassmen Asante Samuel Jr., Al Blades Jr., Patrick Surtain Jr., and the aforementioned James Cook will be National recruits in the coming years. Each has a family connection to football, with the first 3's connection known by their name, and the last, Cook, being the younger brother of FSU star RB Dalvin Cook.
- Carol City 2019 RB Nayquan Wright is a name to remember. He was average in the positional drills, but once the reps vs. LBs and passing skeleton went live, so did his game. He was able to flip a switch and bring up his level of performance when the action was live, but I'd like to see a bit more consistency from him through the entire event as he matures.
The MVPs for Sunday's event were:
QB: Jake Allen
RB: James Cook (2019)
WR: Mike Harley - St. Thomas Aquinas speedster
OL: Kadeem Telfort
DL: Jonathan Garvin
LB: Waynmon Steed - CANES COMMIT!
DB: Pat Surtain Jr. (2018)
There were 6 invites to The Opening given on the day. They were:
QB Jake Allen - Elite 11 finalist (can earn spot at The Opening)
OL Kai-Leon Herbert
RB Zaquandre White
LB VanDarius Cowan
WR Trevon Grimes
WR Jerry Jeudy
DB Stanford Samuels III
All the opening invitees
That's it, guys. Continue the conversation in the comments below.