Nike's "The Opening" is an all-star gala designed to showcase the country's top college football prospects, and it's also a great way for commits to help their respective coaches on the trail by whispering into the ears of their friends.
"Hey, come to my school," they could say. Or, "Man, Coach Whatever really knows how to get guys to the next level. You should consider School X." Other programs had that luxury this week in Beaverton, Oregon,
But Michigan didn't.
Chris Clark, a 4-star tight end and 2015 commit, was supposed to head out west to spread the maize-and-blue word for Wolverines coach Brady Hoke. Who knows? Maybe Clark could have swayed George Campbell back to Ann Arbor. The 5-star wide receiver decommitted during the winter but remains of interest.
Or maybe Clark could have changed the tune of Damien Harris, a 5-star running back who jumped ship shortly after Campbell bailed. But due to personal reasons, Clark—a 6'6", 247-pound Big Ten tight end if there ever was one—didn't make the trip to Phil Knight's place, leaving the Wolverines without an ambassador during one of the biggest weeks of the offseason.
Someone's Enjoying the Process
Well, this observation predates The Opening.
But not by that much.
During the past couple of months, Jacques Patrick has become one of the most interesting recruits to follow. The 6'2", 230-pounder out of Orlando has used social media to his full advantage, posting photoshops of himself cloaked in Michigan-Heisman glory while even adding childhood photos of himself draped in a Florida jersey (that's on his Facebook page).
Sure, the No. 2-ranked running back, per 247Sports, is having fun. Sure, he probably loves the attention and gets a kick out of getting reactions. All of those likes, retweets and fans going crazy can certainly pump one's tires. But he's not committed to any school. He's a free agent. He didn't pledge to Hoke only to reconsider. He's visited Michigan, liked it and continues to weigh options.
In short, Patrick is perfectly playing his recruitment. He's kind of toying with the public, but he's not going overboard. He's a hot commodity and only gets to do this thing once, right?
Per Jamie Newberg of Scout.com, the Floridian Goliath plans to narrow his list to five by the end of the month. Thus far, Florida State and Alabama are his top two. But Michigan's in there, so sit tight.
As for his time at The Opening, his SPARQ score of 118.44 was good enough for No. 20 overall, per StudentSports.com.
Mike Weber Will Make UM Wait
Per Gary Laney (special to MLive.com), Mike Weber says that he's heavily considering a stay in Big Ten Country, rattling off Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State during an interview at The Opening. He said that he had a top five but that it could "change any day."
Per Laney, Weber also said that the event wasn't ideal for running backs, but he was happy to have had the opportunity to attend.
StudentSports.com doesn't have scores for Weber, but there was one thing: He checked in at 5'9" and 210 pounds. Other databases have had him at 5'10" and 5'11". Back in June, I interviewed him at Sound Mind Sound Body in Detroit, and he seemed to be a legitimate 5'10". Then again, maybe I'm trying to make myself feel better about being vertically challenged.
The Detroit Cass Tech superstar was reportedly wearing Wolverines garb in Oregon. So there's that. But again, there's a part of me that fully believes that the recruits want their clothing to be a hot topic. They want to generate buzz. Wearing a school's gear, whether intentional or not, gets people talking.
However, it could be a great sign that one of the nation's top prospects feels comfortable enough to wear maize and blue at one of the biggest recruiting events in the sport.
Then again, maybe that's all he had for the day?! Let's not read too much into this one...just prepare for it to drag out for another few months. But feel free to reset at the moment he leaves the Michigan BBQ at the end of the month. That'll get things going once again.
Harris Is Back on My Radar
I've often stated that I believe that Patrick is the best back of 2015. I'm sticking to that, at least talent-wise. There's potential and all of that for Damien Harris, but we can tackle that later with another post. Today, right now, if I need a No. 1 option, I'm taking Patrick over anyone.
But I've warmed up to Harris, and not because of his performance on the field at The Opening, but due to his showing off of the field. During an interview with Laney, Harris came across as a sharper, more focused young man. Not just a guy hanging out with the bros, tweeting photos and hashtagging things such #GrindHardEryDay, #D1Dreams and so on and so forth (or whatever guys are tweeting these days).
Harris on development (spoiler: He's not going to "just ball out.")
For me, I've got to continue to work on my moves because you can't just outrun everybody the way you can in high school. That's not just for me, that goes for a lot of people I've seen. A lot of people just try to run by people and by defenses, but they can keep up out here with the top players in the country (on defense).
That's how it's going to be in college. So you have to adapt to it and take what you learn here and work on that whenever you get back home to high school.
I've been lukewarm on Harris lately. I don't think that he'll choose Michigan, but he's the high-IQ type that Hoke and offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier wish they could secure for their next class—along with every other coach in the land.
Per StudentsSports.com, his SPARQ score of 126.93 was No. 13 overall. He also clocked a 4.48-second 40, which wasn't all that impressive. But that stuff doesn't really matter. He's phenomenal athlete who understands big-picture concepts.
They can all "ball." That's not the question—it's "can they learn?"
Follow Bleacher Report's Michigan Wolverines football writer Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81
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