Biggest Takeaways from Miami Recruits' Performance at The Opening

David KenyonFeatured ColumnistJuly 11, 2014

Jordan Scarlett
Jordan ScarlettCredit: 247Sports

Nine prospects either currently committed or being heavily recruited by the Miami Hurricanes recently participated in Nike's The Opening.

The camp included SPARQ testing, individual drills and 7-on-7 battles, giving many of the nation's premier high school talents multiple opportunities to stand out.

As the dust settles on the high-profile event, three major takeaways emerged from the performances of the players who head coach Al Golden and his staff have targeted.

Plus, one recruit even gave a verbal pledge to the 'Canes during the camp, highlighting an eventful week for Miami football.


Jordan Scarlett Shines, Then Commits to Miami

Running back Jordan Scarlett recorded the fourth-best SPARQ score at his position, but he was the fastest sprinter at The Opening. The 4-star's 40-yard dash was, per Student Sports, timed at a ridiculous 4.30 seconds.

While it's insanely difficult to buy into that number, one thing is for sure: Scarlett is not slow.

Regardless, Ryan Bartow of 247Sports (subscription required) called Scarlett the position's "Alpha Dog" of Tuesday's portion, saying he is "an explosive speed back in a big man’s body (5'11", 210 pounds). He had the change of direction and vision to go with the breakaway home run speed and nobody made more explosive plays—highlight film-worthy plays."

Though Scarlett had headlined Florida Atlantic's class, it was long considered only a matter of time before he flipped somewhere else. And the St. Thomas Aquinas back, as expected, committed to the hometown school.

According to Safid Deen of The Miami Herald, Scarlett will now be a player-recruiter for the 'Canes, focusing on 4-stars Calvin Ridley and Shawn Burgess-Becker.

"We definitely want to play together at the college level," Scarlett said while pointing out the Monarch duo is attempting to persuade him toward Alabama.

Scarlett is the fourth 4-star running back commit in the current class, but the log-jam being created in the Miami backfield is an excellent problem to have.


Miami Targets Post Surprising Numbers

And not necessarily in a good way. Five of the Hurricanes' six commits or top targets who participated in SPARQ testing ranked in the bottom third of their respective position.

Every player wants to be judged by in-game performances, when they are wearing pads and reacting to a given situation. That, obviously, is completely fair, but it does not change the surprise at lower numbers from Miami targets.

Miami Targets SPARQ Ratings
PlayerPositionHT/WTSPARQPosition Rank
Torrance GibsonQB6'3.5", 207107.012 of 12
Jordan CronkriteRB5'10", 196100.449 of 12
Mark WaltonRB5'9", 18288.8611 of 12
Calvin RidleyWR6'0", 16992.7012 of 14
Tyrek ColeDB5'11", 16897.2016 of 23
Jaquan JohnsonDB5'10", 18287.7822 of 23
Student Sports

Note: Dexter Williams, Burgess-Becker and Tevon Coney did not participate.

Dieter Kurtenbach of the South Florida Sun Sentinel helped explain what exactly the subpar scores mean:

SPARQ is an artificial system; reputations can be built up through it but it doesn't mean you are a great football player. [The biggest question is] do they get the job done and fill the role they are expected to fill. There is literally nothing a SPARQ score can do to convince me someone is a good football player or not a good one.

Athleticism is great, but it does not define whether or not a player excels at football. Kurtenbach used the example of Tom Brady being outstanding in a football sense but a horrible athlete, whereas Terrelle Pryor is a fantastic athlete but mediocre on the field.

The SPARQ result is an all-around number that quantifies athleticism. Camps are trying to quantify skills, but skills are reflected by ability to follow direction.

Just because Jordan Cronkrite didn't post a great score doesn't mean he is not an elite running back. I don't know of many situations a vertical leap is necessary. He is not going to run a 4.3. He is not going to shake a bunch of people. But what he will do is drop his shoulder and ruin your life.

For example, key target Jaquan Johnson posting the second-worst score would be more concerning were he not phenomenal from a football standpoint last season. Instead of recruiting the buzzword of athleticism, Miami is banking on targeting elite football talent.

That also means the Hurricanes' coaching staff is largely relying on their evaluation processes. In other words, the staff is focused on nailing their collective scouting because these players will typically be less flashy than more athletic competition.

Which method is better? Well, that is a matter of subjective opinion, and Miami prefers the latter route for the 2015 cycle.


Calvin Ridley Ready for Next Level

Ridley did not test well SPARQ-wise, finishing 12th of 14 participants at his position. Once the receiver lined up opposite a cornerback, however, Ridley showed why he is such a heralded recruit.

In the accompanying video, Bleacher Report's Michael Felder highlighted Ridley as a top performer, noting the receiver's ability to get open. Felder provided additional thoughts when reached for comment.

The speed and precision have been his biggest sell. The receiver has gotten himself open consistently with some great route running and he has the hands to finish the play. I don't think Ridley's been the best receiver at The Opening but he's been a consistent performer who is clearly ready to contribute at the next level.

It appears Ridley will be a tough pull from the Crimson Tide, especially after he built rapport with quarterback Blake Barnett at The Opening. The fellow 'Bama commit was Ridley's quarterback during the 7-on-7 competition, connecting with him all over the field.

But until pen meets paper on national signing day, Miami will continue chasing himjust like opposing secondaries.


Note: All quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Results from The Opening courtesy of Student Sports.

Follow Bleacher Report CFB Writer David Kenyon on Twitter: @Kenyon19_BR.


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