Grading Top Pac-12 Recruits' Performances at 2014 the Opening
With college football media days officially underway, we can start the clock on the countdown to Pac-12 football, not that you haven't been marking off the days since January.
But before we take a look ahead, we're going to look back at one of the marquee recruiting events of the offseason: The Opening, which took place at Nike headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon.
The nation's top high school talents all descended upon the Portland area from July 7-11 to showcase their skills and improve their respective recruiting profiles. Several Pac-12 commits were there as well as many other players schools from the conference are hoping to sign as part of their 2015 recruiting class.
We're taking a look at six of the more high-profile talents and giving them each a grade for the week. Obviously, this was just one camp, and the grade by no means defines the player's overall skills or what he can and can't accomplish at the next level.
Still, it was interesting to get a glimpse of what these guys looked like when going up against other elite players. Click ahead to check out our grades of the top Pac-12 recruits from 2014 The Opening.
All recruiting information via 247sports.com.
QB Josh Rosen
Quarterback Josh Rosen was one player on everyone's watch list before The Opening for several reasons. At 6'4" and 205 pounds, the UCLA commit has all the physical tools it takes to be an elite passer, along with 4.7-second speed in the 40-yard dash.
That mobility should come in handy as the up-tempo spread-offense trend continues to infiltrate the college and professional ranks and signal-callers are being called upon to gain yardage with their legs more and more. But Rosen is also the No. 2 overall player in the class of 2015.
On Wednesday at The Opening, Rosen showed why he has such a bright future and was named the "Alpha Dog" of his 7-on-7 team for his success during drills. However, Rosen finished the week at No. 11 in the final Elite 11 rankings, with coach Trent Dilfer saying he "needs to buy in to coaching." Take that how you will, but it would be shocking if Rosen had nothing to work on, and perhaps heeding Dilfer's advice will serve him well down the road.
WR Trent Irwin
Two weeks ago, many folks on the outside of recruiting circles wouldn't take a second glance at the name "Trent Irwin." Now, after a terrific effort at The Opening and and with a crystal ball that's practically split between Arizona State and Stanford, everyone will be waiting to see where the touted wideout will play college.
The 6'2", 190-pound Irwin was named to the All-Tournament team on offense, meaning his efforts didn't go unnoticed. With that size to go along with 4.6-second speed, Irwin has future Pac-12 playmaker written all over him.
But the question is: will it be as a Sun Devil or as a member of the Cardinal? And with his performance this past week, will any other teams that had previously doubted what Irwin brought to the table offer a scholarship and jump into the mix?
QB Travis Waller
One of the more pleasant surprises from The Opening turned out to be recent Oregon commit Travis Waller, a dual-threat quarterback out of Anaheim, Calif. On tape, the 6'3" Waller looks a lot like former Duck Darron Thomas in that his speed isn't blinding, but he's certainly capable of picking up decent yardage on the ground.
Through the air, however, is where Waller has a chance to be much better than Thomas. He has a big arm and is coming off his first year starting at quarterback. To the surprise of many, Waller finished third in the final Elite 11 rankings, ahead of touted prospects like Rosen, Town and Kyler Murray.
To be fair, these are merely rankings of one competition. But it bodes well for Waller, who entered the championship game late, and after seeing a beautifully thrown deep ball dropped, led his squad to a scoring drive the next time out. It's safe to say this is just the beginning for the extremely talented quarterback bound for Eugene next year.
ATH Taj Griffin
By now there's a decent chance you've heard about Taj Griffin, the No. 1 all-purpose back in the Class of 2015. Griffin, an Oregon commit, blends speed and elusiveness with a willingness to take on contact. In other words, you could hear thunder, lightning and evil laughter coming from Eugene when he committed to the Ducks.
At The Opening, Griffin was named as the top offensive performer on the Alpha Pro 7-on-7 squad because he was "lethal in space." No real surprises there, although during SPARQ testing, which measures a variety of athletic traits, Griffin ran a 4.31-second 40-yard dash and had a vertical leap of 45 inches.
If that doesn't make you read that sentence twice just to make sure you had the numbers right, you might be the kind of person who just isn't impressed by anything. Griffin looks like someone all Pac-12 schools (besides Oregon of course) will fear in the very near future.
QB Ricky Town
If all eyes were on Josh Rosen, then those eyes had double-duty in making sure not to miss quarterback Ricky Town throughout the week. Town, a USC commit, is also 6'4" and 205 pounds and also runs his 40-yard dash in under 4.7 seconds. As you can plainly see, the storylines here are endless before the two players have even started college.
At The Opening, Town had a solid week and ended in the No. 8 spot in the final Elite 11 rankings. His team also reached the final game of the 7-on-7 tournament, so there's something to be said for performing in the clutch knowing every time you don't have the ball, one of the top passers in the country does and he's on the other side.
This account from coach and counselor Yogi Roth talks about Town's transition from a rough spring to an excellent performance at The Opening that saw the star signal-caller begin to relax and enjoy himself more. There you'll also find analyst Justin Hopkins' take on Town's play, as he called the Thursday effort of the future Trojan "as good as I've seen him play in some time."
CB Iman Marshall
Cornerback Iman Marshall may be the final player on our list, but he's only the second without a verbal commitment to a school. Although with 38 predictions on his crystal ball and 97 percent of them guessing USC, you can almost see him holding up two fingers and saying "Fight On."
Still, Marshall remains uncommitted and highly coveted by top programs from around the country. He has impressive size at 6'1" and 190 pounds and runs a breezy 4.5-second 40-yard dash. Marshall missed some time at The Opening and was still named to the second-team defense at the camp.
This note by 247sports' Scott Schrader says Marshall looked like the top corner in the country after the one-on-one drills between the defensive backs and the wide receivers. Whether he'll be the top corner in a few years' time remains to be seen, but it's clear he made an impression in Beaverton.
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