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Recruiting Radar: 2017 The Opening Miami regional recap

Some notes from the Miami Regional for Nike's The Opening.

the opening logo

On Sunday, Nike's The Opening held their Miami Regional at the Miami Dolphins Training Facility in Davie, FL. There were 350-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:

Wide Receiver is loaded in South Florida

There were many top players at this position on the day, who made highlight reel catches and were a continual nuisance to the DBs trying to cover them. And, this group didn’t even have guys like Mark Pope in attendance, or any of the IMG guys (Brian Hightower — who was on hand but not participating, or Joshua Moore), or Warren Thompson, or Elijah Moore, who are all 4-star caliber players and all participated in the Orlando Regional a week ago. Like I wrote in my Offensive Targets piece, WR is L-O-A-D-E-D, and that was proven again on Sunday.

My top WR on the day was 4-star Dominick Watt. He made several 1 handed catches, including one during 1on1’s that was SPECTACULAR. He lost 1 rep on the day, and dominated the rest of the reps that he won cleanly. Every time I saw him take a rep, Watt was making a play. Smooth in routes; good hands; nice build. He’s a P5 player for sure.

If Watt was WR1 on the day, WR1a to me was 4-star Kevin Austin. Hailing from North Broward Prep — a top academic school who plays independent league football — there were some who derided the level of competition that Austin has faced. But, at Sunday’s The Opening regional, Austin was sublime. He won his reps with ease, was always open, ran great routes, showcased very good hands as a natural pass catcher, and more. On one rep, Austin spun LSU-commit DB Nadab Joseph completely around with a double move, making a wide open touchdown catch in the end. Others may have bigger names and recruiting profiles than Austin, but he’s a top tier player at WR. I’ve been saying this for a long time: I want Kevin Austin on my team. Maybe people will agree with me after this stellar performance.

Alabama commit Xavier Williams, listed as an athlete, competed exclusively at WR. He, like Austin and Watt, had a strong showing, but was clearly behind the other 2 players in my estimation. Williams is smooth and has a nice 3rd gear when he gets behind the defense, which he showed a few times.

Anthony Schwartz can FLY. He clocked a 4.34 in the 40 yard dash during testing, and won the fastest man race, which you can see right here:

Schwartz routinely outran the arms of the younger QBs, and ran by many defenders. Even when DBs gave him cushion, and went straight to bailing/running toward the endzone, Schwartz ran right past them. He. Can. FLY.

TE George Takacs hails from the Naples area and he’s a player. He’s in the 6’6”-6’7” range and can move. He was a natural pass catcher, and had a very nice day. Every time I looked, he was making a play, and it was easy to see because he’s a big target. P5 guy for sure.

Other WRs who impressed me on Sunday:

  • Lamont Finney (Miami Edison) Not the biggest but elite speed (came late so missed fastest man but I think he would have been up there)
  • Tavares Kelly (St. Thomas Aquinas) shifty slot WR with skills
  • 2019 WR Brieon Fuller. He had on 2 Miami wristbands and Miami gloves, and did well when he participated. I saw Fuller on the sideline later in the day, but he looked to be a healthy scratch at that point.
  • Eric Rodgers (East St. Louis, IL) in town for a 7v7 tourney, and showed very well vs the DBs here. 6’4-ish and faster than you’d think for a guy that size (routinely got on top of DBs who underestimated his speed)
  • 2019 WR Kalani Norris put on a clinic, routinely getting separation from defenders. Check out some video.
  • Leonard Manuel (Ocala Vanguard), HS teammate of N’Kosi Perry, 2020 kid, BIG frame, and will likely end up at TE.

QB play much improved in 2017

Man, this was fun to see. After years of QB play at this event being poor (and that’s being nice), the overall QB talent was the best it’s been in 5 years, and that helped everything. 1on1’s were better. Half-skeleton pass drills were better. Everything is better when QB play doesn’t abjectly suck.

Leading the way at QB was new Miami commit Artur Sitkowski. Here are a couple clips of him throwing that I put up on twitter during the event:

And here’s a look at Sitkowski from Elite11 evaluator Brian Stumpf — a full time Nike Football camp staffer — before his junior season, courtesy of Tyler Donohue of Bleacher/Report:

Sitkowski was a clear level above every other QB at this event, which is good for Miami, since he just committed here. Sitkowski spins a nice ball, is a big kid at 6’5” 215lbs, and fairly athletic. He can move and isn’t a statue (yeah, I knew you’d like that).

Other QBs like 2019 Daniel Richardson (Miami Booker T. Washington), 2020 Max Johnson (son of Brad Johnson), Mak Sexton (Cedar Park TX), Cam Smith (American Heritage) and 2020 Derohn King (Sunrise Piper) all flashed talent on the day, as well.

Defensive Back, like Wide Receiver, is a loaded position group

No surprise here, but plenty of top players at this position as well.

4-star CB Tyson Campbell was a top standout all day long. He’s fast (clocked 4.47 in the testing portion of the day) and very good. He was always around the ball, and made play after play in 1on1 and half skeleton. He has quick feet and good size at 6’2” 185lbs.

4-star DB Josh Jobe is a BULLY. He was quite simply dominant all day long, and along with Campbell the top player at DB on the day. I like Jobe at Safety more than Corner, and think he’s a 5-star player at that position. He’s just too good.

4-star CB Asante Samuel Jr. is one of the top cover corners in this class. He’s smaller at 5’9” but this kid can, and will, lock you down in coverage. Florida State leads in his recruitment, but other teams would be wise to pursue Samuel Jr. He’s really, really, good, and he’s going to continue to be good in the future.

4-star DB Al Blades Jr. had a nice day, but, like Jobe, I like him more at Safety than Cornerback. Blades won the majority of his reps, and was strong in press coverage. He’s not as natural a coverage player as Campbell or Samuel Jr., but he’s a good player with the pedigree to be a P5 recruit.

4-star LSU S commit Nadab Joseph looks the part of a top DB. He’s tall and lean with long arms, which teams love. He had the highest testing score of the day, which is a testament to his athleticism. Joseph got lost in 1on1’s a couple of times, but man coverage isn’t the strongest part of his game, and that’s okay. Joseph is locked in with LSU, and Georgia/Florida State have a small part of his attention.

3-star CB DJ Ivey is going to get a bump soon. The Miami commit missed his junior season with a foot injury, but all signs of that were gone on Sunday. Ivey has size, length, and speed, and will cover you up on the outside. Some Miami fans have wondered if Ivey is a take or not, and let me tell you unequivocally that Ivey is 100% a take. This kid is good, and people are going to see that soon. Ivey is not a fringe player at all, he’s Miami caliber. Period.

Some other DBs who caught my attention at one time or another on Sunday: 2019 DB Keontra Smith (Hollywood (FL) Chaminade-Madonna), Keidron Smith (West Palm Beach Oxbridge Academy), Darius Brown (Hialeah (FL) Mater Academy), Florida commit Divaad Wilson (Miami Northwestern), Rayne Tanega-Doster (Hialeah (FL) Mater Academy), and Louisville commit Trenell Troutman (Ft. Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas).

Other top players like 5-star Patrick Surtain Jr. and 4-star Miami commit Gilbert Frierson missed Sunday’s event with injuries. And, as was the case with WR, several top local players went to the Orlando Regional a week ago because of conflicts with 7v7 and other events for the Miami event. Even still, the DB group was strong, which it needed to be to contend with the WR group on hand.

Quick Hitters

A couple more observations I had from Sunday:

  • Miami RB commit Camron Davis told me before the event that he was going to put on a show (“I’m gonna eat” were his exact words), and he did just that. In position drills, in 1on1, and on half skeleton passing drills, Davis was dominant from start to finish. He’s a well built, muscular kid, and has a variety of skills. Miami got a good compliment to 5-star RB Lorenzo Lingard here.
  • FSU RB commit James Cook has been a known commodity for years. He’s reclassified from 2019 to 2018 (shortly after last year’s Miami Opening Regional, I believe), and just continues to prove his worth. Like Davis, no matter the drill on Sunday, Cook was a top player. Easy to see why he’s a top recruit. And for those wondering who don’t know, yes, he’s Dalvin’s younger brother.
  • DE Andrew Chatfield doesn’t have the length/wingspan of other players at his position, but he’s damn good. He won every rep he took on Sunday, and was just flat dominant. I talked to a couple recruiting analysts on the day who think he may have to transition to OLB at the college level, but make no mistake: this kid can play.
  • DE Kayode Oladele is as well put together as any prospect I’ve seen so far this cycle. The recent FSU commit won the vast majority of his reps, and was so good that and OL tore his shirt trying to hold him on one rep...which Oladele still won cleanly.
  • 2019 RB Kenny McIntosh — Miami DT RJ McIntosh’s younger brother — is really good. He did well in every drill, and was on the level of FSU commit James Cook and Miami commit Camron Davis. He’s a big kid but he moves well. A name to remember.
  • Miami DT commit Nesta Silvera is good. Real good. Won most of his reps at DT, and will only continue to get better. Strong kid, which obviously plays well on the interior DL.
  • OLB Yasir Abdullah is a favorite of some local recruiting writers, and it’s easy to see why. He has a good frame, and runs well. Was easily the top player at this position group on Sunday.
  • Miami commit OG Delone Scaife played LT most of the day, and did well against several edge rushers. Scaife did look a bit out of place in space at LT, and his future is most definitely inside on the OL.
  • 2019 RB Nayquan Wright is the truth. He’s teammates with Miami commit RB Camron Davis at Carol City, and always brings it when the lights are on. He’s a name to know in the next cycle for sure.

Positonal MVPs

The MVPs for Sunday's event were:

QB: Artur Sitkowski - Miami commit

RB: Kenny McIntosh (2019)

WR: Kevin Austin (that’s my guy!)

OL: Delone Scaife - Miami commit

DL: Andrew Chatfield

LB: Yasir Abdullah

DB: Tyson Campbell

Rating: Nadab Joseph - LSU commit

Opening Invites

There were 12 invites to The Opening given on the day. This is by far the most invites in recent years at the Miami Regional. For comparison, there were 6 given at this event a year ago.

Here’s the individual list of the invitees from the above tweet:

RB Camron Davis - Miami commit

RB James Cook - Florida State commit

WR Kevin Austin (THAT’S. MY. GUY!!!!)

WR Xavier Williams - Alabama commit

WR Anthony Schwartz

TE George Takacs

OL Delone Scaife - Miami commit

OL Curtis Dunlap

DE Andrew Chatfield

DB Tyson Campbell

DB Al Blades Jr.

DB Josh Jobe

That’s what I saw on Sunday at The Opening Miami Regional.

Comment away, guys!

Go Canes