While a quick start to the 2015 recruiting cycle currently has Auburn at No. 5 in 247Sports' Composite Team Rankings, the Tigers have a lot more room to improve their already star-studded class.
For proof of that fact, look no further than The Opening.
Nike hosted 163 of the nation's top high school football players at its Oregon headquarters this week for four days of prestigious skills testing and head-to-head competition.
None of The Opening's attendees are currently committed to Auburn, but the Tigers are in the hunt for more than a dozen of the elite athletes who were on Nike's campus.
Several of those targets saw their stock rise in the national spotlight, while Auburn emerged as a new contender for a couple of standout performers.
Here are three things Auburn fans should take away from The Opening as this year's recruiting cycle heads into the late summer months.
Offensive Line MVP Martez Ivey Is a "Friday Night Guy"
Despite his ranking as the nation's top offensive lineman, 5-star tackle Martez Ivey finished toward the bottom of the results list of recruits who received a full SPARQ rating at The Opening.
Ivey's combine numbers, which included a 5.27 in the 40-yard dash, were not spectacular, but 247Sports' Keith Niebuhr said the scores were not reason for any alarm:
The 6'6" Florida native proved that in the one-on-one lineman challenge, impressing those in attendance with his work against some of the country's top defensive players. He further defended his lofty positional ranking by winning the camp's offensive line MVP award.
"I like competing," Ivey told Niebuhr (subscription required) earlier this week. "Whenever you’re going up against the best out there and you’re putting your hand in the ground, you don’t want anybody to be better than you. When you’re facing the best in the nation, there is no patty-caking around."
Ivey said Auburn and Florida currently stand out in his recruitment, and he expects to visit each school soon. While Ivey grew up a fan of his home state Gators, Apopka HS teammate Chandler Cox is a 3-star Auburn commitment who is pushing America's top tackle to be a part of another dominant offensive line on the Plains.
The Tigers' Key Targets at WR Are Athletic Freaks
Several high SPARQ ratings of Auburn's top targets at The Opening belonged to players who are currently recruited to play wide receiver. Notables include 4-star K.J. Hill (133.95), 4-star Christian Kirk (129.30), 5-star George Campbell (122.70) and 5-star Georgia commitment Terry Godwin (103.17).
Hill had the third-fastest agility shuttle time at 3.88 seconds. Kirk, who is interested in a handful of elite programs with spread offenses, carried his standout performance from the SPARQ drills over to the seven-on-seven competition, where he caught several touchdowns Wednesday.
Campbell, a Florida native and the nation's No. 2 wide receiver, ran a 4.36 in the 40-yard dash and made several spectacular downfield plays in the passing game.
Another 4-star, Kirk Merritt, won the SPARQ National Championship with a stunning 147.60 rating, which featured a 4.46-second 40-yard dash and a 43-inch vertical. He is currently the nation's No. 3 all-purpose back, but the Tigers have emerged as contenders for him, per 247Sports (subscription required), as he likes "how they use receivers in space."
Finally, 5-star Torrance Gibson went through drills as a wide receiver after going through the famed Elite 11 camp as a dual-threat quarterback earlier in the week. Some recruiting analysts believe he has more of a future at wide receiver than his preferred spot as a signal-caller.
Top In-State Recruit Daron Payne's Game Is Still Developing
Daron Payne, the No. 1 player in the state of Alabama, has got the power game all figured out as one of the nation's strongest defensive tackles.
But the 5-star from Shades Valley HS said he wants to work on doing more than just manhandling offensive linemen in order to become a more complete player at the next level.
"I really need to work on my speed rush," Payne said at The Opening, per AL.com's Gary Laney. "Just working the edge is something I need to do."
If the 330-pound Payne can develop more of an edge rush, he could be an instant starter at Auburn, who will be without Gabe Wright, Ben Bradley, Angelo Blackson and Jeffrey Whitaker after this season. He was able to showcase some of his all-around skills in the final one-on-one battles of The Opening.
The Tigers still have a lot of work to do to secure the top star from their home state. Rival Alabama is said to be a slight leader in front of Auburn, and Payne said this week Texas is also in the mix for his commitment.
Justin Ferguson is Bleacher Report's lead Auburn writer. Follow him on Twitter @JFergusonAU. All quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. All recruiting rankings and information courtesy of 247Sports.
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