The Opening 2013: 10 Sleeper Recruits to Watch in Beaverton
The Opening, a summer football camp hosted by NIKE in Oregon, is the marquee offseason event in college football recruiting. Held on NIKE's headquarters in Beaverton, the event invites 150 of the nation's best recruits and will take place June 30th - July 3rd.
Many well-known studs will be at the event looking to further establish themselves as premier prospects. Running back Leonard Fournette, offensive tackle Cameron Robinson, defensive end Da'Shawn Hand and quarterback David Cornwell will be at The Opening along with many more.
However, the event will also feature several sleeper prospects who will be looking to make a name for themselves. An undersized cornerback with excellent athleticism wants to compete with the nation's best, a pass-rushing linebacker wants to show he is among the elite and three underrated offensive linemen should be watched keenly at this event.
10. Ainuu Taua, DL
Taua, who is an intriguing defensive line recruit, will be at The Opening looking to dominate the 1-on-1 drills of the camp. His snap quickness and strength should help him put on a good performance in Beaverton, so look for Taua to raise some eyebrows at the event.
Taua, who is 6'0" and 287 pounds, can play with solid leverage at the point of attack. He displays good play recognition versus the run and has the power to anchor down and stack blocks. With The Opening featuring several workouts in pads, Taua will feel comfortable for the duration of the camp. The coaches at The Opening will work with him on his hand usage as a rusher, which will improve this area of his game.
Taua, who is from California, may be unknown coming into The Opening, but he could leave as a hot name. According to 247Sports, Ole Miss and Washington are his co-leaders.
9. Jacob Bragg, OL
Bragg, who is committed to Kansas, is a center prospect with potential to be an All-Big 12 selection. His toughness, strength and quickness will help him hold his own against the talented defensive line prospects scheduled to compete at The Opening.
Bragg, who is 6'3" and 314 pounds, is a big pivot player who has a solid football IQ and can snap the ball and quickly get his hands into position to punch his target. He flashes great anchor and re-anchor strength and sustains blocks when he's engaged.
When he gets matched up with a defensive tackle in a phone booth (tight space) in Beaverton, expect Bragg to win those battles in convincing fashion. He is a player who could leave The Opening with a buzz surrounding him.
8. Jaleel Wadood, DB
Wadood, who de-committed from Arizona State this week, will be interesting to track at The Opening due to growing suspense on where he will play. Some coaches like Wadood at safety, while others feel his best fit is at cornerback.
Wadood, who is 5'11" and 170 pounds, has outstanding range and play speed. He can be left as a single-high safety and roam the deep-third of the field thanks to transition quickness and a burst to jump passing lanes.
Wadood does not show much stiffness in space and is a solid tackler versus the run. He has the skill set to play on the defensive perimeter, but he may be All-Conference as a safety.
On the recruiting front, USC, UCLA, Cal and ASU are the core four, per 247Sports.
7. Morgan Mahalak, QB
Mahalak, who is committed to Oregon, is one of the mysteries of the 2014 class. The Elite 11 Finalist has limited experience as a starter.
The 2013 season will be his first as a full-time starting quarterback, yet Mahalak has earned offers from several prominent programs. Mahalak, who is 6'3" and 190 pounds, will have the attention of many curious observers at the Elite Finals/The Opening.
He displays a natural and fluid release with good delivery quickness. Mahalak can pitch with accuracy and touch to targets, as well as deliver strikes with velocity downfield. With a good performance in Beaverton, Mahalak could begin his ascension into the top-five quarterback rankings.
6. Matthew Adams, OLB
Adams, a Houston commit, is one of the top linebackers you've never heard of. While other 'backer prospects such as Raekwon McMillan, Clifton Garrett and Hoza Scott have commanded attention, Adams has flown under the radar.
However, Houston is getting a great defender to play on the second level. Adams, who is 6'0" and 203 pounds, has great athleticism, speed and range. He shows the cover skills of a safety and can latch on to running backs and tight ends in man-coverage.
Adams also flashes the ability to cover slot receivers and has excellent movement skills when buzzing back into zone coverage. With The Opening featuring 7-on-7 games, Adams' athleticism in space will make him a surprising star of the event.
5. C.J. Reavis, OLB/SS
Reavis, who is committed to Virginia Tech, could play outside linebacker at The Opening but expect him to spend most of his time at safety. He will enter the event as one of the more instinctive safeties on the roster.
Reavis, who is 6'2" and 200 pounds, has excellent play recognition quickness. He is a safety who does a great job of keeping everything in front of him and displays a tremendous burst to close and finish on the ball.
Reavis, who is a similar player to Rams safety T.J. McDonald, can be utilized as a blitzer, extra linebacker and on the back end. His instincts will allow him to make many big plays and his national profile will be raised after the conclusion of The Opening.
4. Bryson Allen-Williams, DE/OLB
Allen-Williams, a South Carolina commit, plays at full tilt on each snap—even to a fault. He has a chip on his shoulder and will be looking to prove he belongs in the elite pass-rusher category at The Opening.
Allen-Williams, who is 6'2" and 214 pounds, has rare snap quickness and charges upfield with a lethal first step. He jumps on top of blockers when coming off the ball and is a pure speed-rusher.
Although he can run himself out of plays at times and needs to refine his technique, Allen-Williams has great range and will be a great stand-up/rush-end outside linebacker in college.
3. Thaddeus Snodgrass, WR
Snodgrass, who is committed to Kentucky, is the top receiver pledge for Mark Stoops' class. The Ohio pass-catcher will take his talents to Beaverton with the intent to light up the 7-on-7 portion of the event.
Snodgrass, who is 6'1" and 170 pounds, is a speedster who threatens a secondary on each snap. He has great release quickness, can shoot away from cornerbacks at junction points and also flashes coverage recognition skills.
The future Wildcat will be a deep threat in the SEC, but should use his time at The Opening to expand his catch radius. Snodgrass needs to improve his ability to snatch balls with his hands, but nonetheless should make some impressive plays.
2. Kammy Delp, OG
Delp, who performed well at the Oakland NIKE Camp, has been overlooked by many recruiting rankings, but he is one of the top blockers out west.
Delp, who is 6'4" and 305 pounds, put to bed any questions regarding his mean streak, nastiness and strength this spring. Wherever the talented offensive guard has gone, he has stood his ground, played physically and tossed defensive linemen aside.
An agile blocker who can get to the second level of a defense, Delp should surprise many observers during the 1-on-1 drills at The Opening. He is a phone booth mauler, and with some technique work, Delp could become an excellent space-blocker in both the running and passing game.
Washington looks good, says 247Sports.
1. Kavin Alexander, CB
Alexander, who has been timed at 4.36 in the 40-yard dash, will come to Beaverton with the right to claim he's the best all-around athlete at the event. He posted a ridiculous 148.17 SPARQ rating at the Dallas NIKE Combine in April, which is the second-highest rating of all-time.
Ohio State signee Mike Mitchell has the highest SPARQ rating of all-time at 154.47.
Alexander, who is 5'8' and 182 pounds, has also been timed at 3.90 20-yard shuttle. He will be the favorite to win the SPARQ National Championship.
However, Alexander is still not regarded as a top-level defensive back prospect. This event is the proper platform for him to use his athleticism to compete with the top players in the country and prove he belongs.
Edwin Weathersby is the College Football Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. He has worked in scouting/player personnel departments for three professional football teams, including the New York Giants and Cleveland Browns.