The Opening 2014: 10 Breakout Stars from Beaverton
If a recruit feels he is flying under the radar and wants more attention, then he needs to get to The Opening and show out.
The event is the biggest platform for recruits to display their talent. Many highly touted and elite prospects were in attendance in Beaverton, Oregon, this week, but the competition also featured some players who weren't as well-known as some of their peers.
A center had such a great week that an offer from a national powerhouse could be on its way. A receiver used his speed to elevate his stock, while a safety committed to Ohio State turned some heads.
Rashan Gary, DT (2016)
The Opening is mainly geared toward seniors, but it traditionally has invited a few select juniors to compete.
This year, one of the underclassmen who earned an invite was 5-star 2016 defensive tackle Rashan Gary. Some diehard recruiting fans likely already know who he is, but Gary's performance this week in Beaverton will only intensify his buzz on the recruiting trail.
The 6'4", 285-pound New Jersey native already has offers from Alabama, USC, Florida State, Tennessee and several others, says 247Sports.
Donte Jackson, ATH
However, that may change soon based on the Louisiana native's performance at The Opening. Jackson made the offensive All-Tournament team, but Justin Hopkins of 247Sports says he also was a star on defense for Team Land Sharks.
Look for Jackson to move way up in the next edition of rankings. Georgia leads schools such as LSU and Oregon for the speedster, per 247Sports.
Tyler Green, DB
Tyler Green is a 3-star recruit who quickly proved he belonged at The Opening. The Maryland native was not affected by being surrounded by so many 5-star and 4-star prospects, as he used the week as a coming out party.
At 6'3" and 195 pounds, Green is a long-limbed athlete who does a solid job of sinking his hips when transitioning out of his backpedal. He lacks some speed, but he's not afraid to fight people in coverage.
More on the Ohio State commit's performance can be seen here.
Calvin Ridley, WR
Calvin Ridley is not a recruit who is flying under the radar at all. He's one of the better players in the nation, and he was a well-known prospect coming into the event.
However, he warrants being on this list because he may have made a case at The Opening that he's the best receiver in the country. The 4-star Alabama commitment is currently the No. 6 receiver in the 247Sports composite rankings, and his performance strongly screamed that he's a 5-star prospect.
Ridley, who is 6'2" and 170 pounds, is a fantastic route-runner who also has great speed, quickness to cut and ball skills. Just look at the above clip to see an outstanding catch he made in Beaverton.
Arthur McGinnis, LB
After watching some tape of Arthur McGinnis, it was concluded he was a solid linebacker who likely will be a fringe starter and mainly a special teams standout in college.
After The Opening, that conclusion has been modified. McGinnis' speed, athleticism and physicality were all noted by Barton Simmons of 247Sports. The 3-star 'backer is 6'2" and 226 pounds, and he has what it takes to become a full-time starter who impacts a series on all three downs.
Texas A&M and UCLA are his top schools, per 247Sports.
Blake Barnett, QB
Sure, sure, Blake Barnett is already a well-known recruit. He's a 4-star quarterback who is headed to Alabama, and many regard him as having among the biggest upside of any recruit in the 2015 class.
However, Barnett broke out in Beaverton by winning the Elite 11 MVP, according to 247Sports. This honor will likely take him from being an "average" 4-star quarterback prospect to a sure-fire 5-star stud.
The California native may be on his way to becoming a household name.
Barnett told the following to Charles Power of BamaOnLine on July 10:
I think what set the tone was the first day. We had the workout and it was about seven hours. To say the least, it was about seven hours. We learned a lot from that as far as mental strength and physical strength. We pushed our body and pushed our mind. I think pushing our mind helped out tremendously. When times are bad or times or good, it's the balance of being composed and that's what made the difference.
Justin Dunning, S
Perhaps the main reason why 247Sports says Dunning is only the 39th-best player in Texas is because the talented safety tore his ACL last year. However, at The Opening, all Dunning did was lead the event in interceptions with six, according to Taylor Hamm of Gigem247.
At 6'3.5" and 204 pounds, Dunning has the size of a linebacker with the ball skills of a receiver. He was named to the 7-on-7 tournament's All-Defense team.
C.J. Sanders, WR
The son of former NFL receiver Chris Sanders, 3-star recruit C.J. Sanders should have a bigger buzz around him going forward after The Opening.
That buzz will come because Sanders ran a blazing 4.32 40-yard dash in Beaverton, according to Student Sports. Although he is only 5'9" and 177 pounds, Sanders verified that he is more than fast enough to make up for his lack of size.
He should get some more attention and love from now on when discussing the top players in Notre Dame's class.
Fred Ulu-Perry, OL
Although he's a 4-star prospect, Ulu-Perry doesn't receive a ton of attention in recruiting circles. Alabama, USC, Miami, Georgia and Auburn are just a few powerhouses who have not offered him, says 247Sports.
However, based on his performance at The Opening, especially against a stud like McKenzie, that's about to quickly change for the Hawaii native.
Kirk Merritt, WR/RB
Merrit is a 4-star recruit, but 247Sports lists him as only the eighth-best prospect in his state. At 5'11" and 206 pounds, he is built like a running back, but Merritt's best as a receiver in the slot.
After winning an award designed to be given to the most athletic football player in the nation, it's safe to say Merritt is going to be near the top of a lot of updated rankings going forward.
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