Critical Storylines to Watch at The Opening 2017

David KenyonFeatured ColumnistJune 26, 2017

Critical Storylines to Watch at The Opening 2017

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    Matt Corral
    Matt CorralCredit: Scout

    College football's stars of tomorrow will gather at The Opening in Beaverton, Oregon, for the annual summer showcase from June 28 until July 3.

    We'll be watching closely as elite prospects compete in a variety of drills against the best competition in the country. Position-specific workouts can help shape a player's ranking, especially since every major recruiting outlet will be in attendance.

    But which touted players will back up their billing? Who among the lesser-known invitees will boost their recruiting stock? And how many prospects will choose their college destination?

    Those are just three of the storylines we're exploring leading up to The Opening, which takes place at the Nike World Headquarters.

Next Chapter in the Daniel Faalele Story

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    Daniel Faalele has never officially played a down of football, yet he'll participate in The Opening.

    How is that possible?

    The 3-star's 6'8", 400-pound frame is a great starting point for an answer. The offensive lineman from Australia has already been invited to the Under Armour All-American Game too.

    Faalele lists offers from Alabama, Auburn, Florida State, Georgia, Miami, Michigan and Tennessee, among others. Proven or not, that catalog of scholarships makes him a target for under-the-radar players looking to bolster their value.

    Or maybe he'll dominate some of the best pass-rushers in the country and further fuel the hype train.

Players Announcing Commitments

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    Jordyn Adams
    Jordyn AdamsCredit: Scout

    Recruits often take advantage of a national stage to announce their college commitments, and The Opening provides that type of opportunity to an exclusive group.

    This year, 4-star wide receiver Jordyn Adams is expected to reveal his choice between Clemson and North Carolina, according to Tony Crumpton of TigerNet.

    Additionally, per Sam Spiegelman of SEC Country, Ja'Marr Chaseanother 4-star wideoutplans to pick LSU, TCU or Tennessee.

    More players are bound to follow suit. Which programs will see their futures get a little brighter?

Underclassmen on the Big Stage

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    Six players scheduled to compete at The Opening won't be signing a letter of intent during the 2018 cycle.

    Owen Pappoe, a 4-star linebacker from Georgia, is perhaps the most notable. He also earned an invite to the event last summer, becoming the first sophomore to receive a spot.

    Four more 4-stars—defensive tackle Jowon Briggs, defensive end Devontae Dobbs, defensive end Zach Harrison and defensive end Nolan Smithwill join Pappoe. Unranked running back John Emery Jr. rounds out the group.

    The experience against top prospects should benefit their respective developments, and it might not hurt in recruiting rankings, either.

Nike Football Rating Championship Competition

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    Being a great athlete doesn't make someone a great football player. Testing well athletically demands attention, though.

    The Nike Football Rating Championship attempts to gauge explosiveness. It factors in height and weight, but the primary measurements are performances in the 40-yard dash, vertical jump and agility shuttle, plus either the powerball toss or bench press.

    Six of the top 10 players on the national leaderboard from The Opening regional camps earned an invite to the Finals. Baylor commit safety Christian Morgan, uncommitted cornerback Kenneth Dicks III and Texas pledge wide receiver Rondale Moore posted the three highest ratings.

    Morgan led the country, with a 144.00 rating, which compares favorably to last summer's champion. Ohio State running back J.K. Dobbins claimed the title with a 146.76 score.

Tracking the Elite 11 QBs

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    Headlined by the country's No. 1 overall prospect, Clemson commit Trevor Lawrence, the field of Elite 11 quarterbacks will challenge for MVP honors.

    Of the 12 players (yes, 12) heading to Beaverton, three are 5-star signal-callers. In addition to Lawrence, the event will feature Justin Fields and Matt Corral, who recently decommitted from Penn State and USC, respectively.

    The final uncommitted option is Tanner McKee, a highly regarded 4-star from California. Otherwise, fans of certain schools can watch their potential quarterbacks of the future.

    Dorian Thompson-Robinson is pledged to UCLA, and Jack Tuttle is unofficially tied to Utah. Justin Rogers (TCU), Tyler Shough (North Carolina), Cammon Cooper (Washington State), Devin Leary (North Carolina State), Jarren Williams (Kentucky) and Quincy Patterson II (Virginia Tech) complete the finalists.

Standouts in 7-on-7

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    Unless you're a proud member of a niche group, your favorite part of football is watching skill-position guys make highlight-reel plays.

    And does The Opening ever have that. The 126 non-linemen are divided into six teams for the intense showdowns.

    Quarterbacks try to display clean footwork, quick decisions, arm strength and accuracy while commanding the offense. For running backs, they're trying to show off versatility as a pass-catcher.

    Receiversboth wideouts and tight endshave a not so-simple task: get open against the best defensive backs in the country. And those backs have a similarly difficult challenge: lock down some of the best receivers in the nation.

    It's a two-way street in seven-on-seven. While one right move can leave a player on a highlight reel, a wrong one could expose him.

Top Linemen in 1-on-1 Drills

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    Pure strength is an essential asset for linemen on both sides of the football, but the technicians shine at The Opening. Each player's fundamentals will be judged and then tested in high-pressure situations over and over and over again.

    Does the offensive lineman have a strong base and good stance? How's his get-off and balance? Does he strike authoritatively with proper hand placement and pad level?

    For defenders, is the rusher only able to win with physicality or finesse, not a combination of both? Can he bend around the edge? Will he fight and win battles with his hands?

    There's no place to hide in one-on-one reps. The top performers will earn a place in the Final Five lineman challenge.

Who's Talking to Whom

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    Micah Parsons
    Micah ParsonsCredit: Scout

    Football is only one significant part of The Opening.

    It also doubles as an unintentional training ground for the nation's next round of salesmen. Recruitsno matter whether they are verbally pledged to a school or uncommittedwill be working to convince fellow top prospects to join them.

    For programs such as Miami and Ohio State, the teams have large (though unofficial) delegations. However, undeclared players may be leaning a certain way and will be trying to bolster a class at, say, Alabama, Clemson or LSU before joining themselves.

    The rewards of these discussions might not be felt until September or December or even national signing day in February.

    But with 5-star talents like Micah Parsons, Fields and Corral still uncommitted, recruiting pitches by peers are worth the potential prize.

         


    All recruiting information via Scout. Stats from cfbstats.com or B/R research. Quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Follow Bleacher Report CFB Writer David Kenyon on Twitter, @Kenyon19_BR.