Alabama was represented well at Nike's The Opening in Beaverton, Oregon, this past week, sending 10 of its 19 committed players—and many more of its targets—to the nation's most high-profile recruiting exhibition.
All of the future Crimson Tide players acquitted themselves well at the camp, and some of them were awarded MVP honors in the process. That shouldn't come as a surprise, though, as Alabama once again checks in with the No. 1 class on the 247Sports team rankings.
In this regard, we didn't really "learn" anything new about Alabama's class so much as we had things reaffirmed.
But there were some things that stuck out over others.
Takeaway No. 1: Blake Barnett to Calvin Ridley Will Be Special
Conspiracy theorists will say it was planned this way. Statisticians will tell you it was probable, based on numbers. But no matter how or why it happened, Blake Barnett and Calvin Ridley were paired together on Team #Apocalypse for the seven-on-seven tournament.
And the results were…well, incredible.
The team won the tournament, Barnett was named the tournament MVP (along with the Elite 11 MVP) and Ridley was named the overall MVP of The Opening. Neither could have done it without the other, and the chemistry they flashed was enough to get Tide fans giddy.
"We really found a rhythm together," Barnett told Bleacher Report's on-location recruiting columnist, Tyler Donohue, of playing with Ridley. "He's such a talented receiver, and it's big that we have a chance to build some chemistry before we both arrive at Alabama."
Here, take a look:
(Ridley showed out with other QBs as well):
One of the coolest things about The Opening is watching potential future teammates play together. Alabama wasn't the only team to experience this—within its own division, Texas A&M saw committed quarterback Kyler Murray establish a nice rapport with targeted receiver Christian Kirk—but it was by far the most successful.
Ridley is the No. 40 overall prospect in the class, and Barnett checks in at No. 63. After the performance each had in Beaverton, there's a chance those numbers will rise in the updated set of rankings.
But, really, who cares at this point about "pedigree"?
They both showed how well they can play.
Takeaway No. 2: Minkah Fitzpatrick is a Specimen
Minkah Fitzpatrick is the No. 33 overall player in the country, higher than all of his 18 fellow Alabama commits. The smart money says he won't remain the top-ranked recruit in the class—when has Nick Saban ever not landed a handful of top-30 recruits?—but for now, the New Jersey cornerback was the player for Tide fans to watch.
And he didn't disappoint.
Fitzpatrick made the SPARQ National Championship with a preliminary score of 130.41. At 6'1" with rare athletic ability—anything over 130 is considered "elite"—he is an ideal outside cornerback prospect.
Alabama's secondary is an area of concern this season. Five-star freshmen Tony Brown and Marlon Humphrey are supposed to become impact players, in time, but that they're both competing to start in 2014 speaks volumes about the lack of depth at cornerback.
However, as the years go on, that experience could prove valuable. Once Fitzpatrick joins the ranks in 2015, he, Brown and Humphrey could form one of the best position groups in recent college football memory. Their skill sets complement one another well, and defensive coordinator Kirby Smart knows how to develop a good prospect.
Fitzpatrick has all the skills needed to be the next in that line.
Takeaway No. 3: Talent in the Trenches
Not a ton of analysis here. Just a couple of quick videos. Georgia is coming after Jonathan Ledbetter hard, and there's a reason why:
That is nice agility for a player Ledbetter's size (6'4", 265 lbs). Alabama better work its butt off to keep him—he could turn into a good one.
On the other side of the ball, offensive lineman Richie Petitbon, whom the Tide scooped from Washington D.C., caught the attention of Bleacher Report's on-site analyst Michael Felder:
Power in the trenches has always been a staple of Alabama football. Scratch that: It's the identity of Alabama football.
And that doesn't look to change anytime soon.
Note: All recruiting info refers to the 247Sports composite rankings.