BEAVERTON, Ore. — Reigning national champion Ohio State was well-represented at The Opening this week, as several future Buckeyes battled alongside and against America's top college football recruits.
The event included more than 160 high school standouts, some already committed to Ohio State and others among head coach Urban Meyer's top targets. Bleacher Report enjoyed a close-up look throughout the event at Nike's world headquarters, picking up some interesting notes on Ohio State's potential future playmakers.
Here's a look at takeaways that should pique the interest of Buckeyes fans.
Jonathan Cooper Could Earn a Fifth Star
Columbus native Jonathan Cooper committed to Ohio State last fall and remains the program's highest-ranked defensive pledge. The 6'3½", 230-pound pass-rusher is a key component of a class that currently rates third nationally in composite rankings.
The group features an FBS-best 14 4-star prospects, but it doesn't contain a composite 5-star recruit. That may change soon, following Cooper's impressive performance in Beaverton.
The Gahanna Lincoln High School product kept elite offensive linemen off balance and broke through with several highlight-reel efforts. He actually landed atop a top-10 list of plays in a video presented at the event's closing ceremonies.
Cooper seemed to be on a mission from the start and took several opponents to school, including 4-star Michigan State pledge Michael Onwenu on this rep:
Discussions in The Opening media room about players who warranted elevated star status continued to circle back to Cooper by the end of the week. Notre Dame commit Tommy Kraemer provided rave reviews.
"Cooper is the guy who stood out to me because he really makes you work for everything," Kraemer told Bleacher Report. "He'll take advantage of any mistake, and that combination of power and quickness isn't easy to deal with."
Blue-Chip Targets Eyeing Visits to Columbus
Expect this Buckeyes recruiting class to grow stronger in the coming months, as more top-tier talents jump on the bandwagon. Several sensational athletes revealed plans to spend time on campus as things progress toward national signing day.
Antwuan Jackson, a 4-star defensive tackle from Georgia, identified Auburn and Ohio State as co-leaders. He anticipates a trip to Columbus in the near future.
"I love both programs. I love both communities," he said, pointing to his strong relationship with Buckeyes defensive line coach Larry Johnson.
Lyndell Wilson, a 5-star Alabama linebacker, is viewed as a Crimson Tide lean, but Ohio State remains in the mix.
"I will take my officials to Oregon, USC and Ohio State. That’s the only three I know right now," Wilson said.
He is currently rated No. 1 overall among 2016 linebackers so any possibility is worth monitoring moving forward.
Florida wide receiver Binjimen Victor enjoyed a strong performance in Beaverton, displaying superb athleticism and mid-air adjustments. He is expected to attend Ohio State's Friday Night Lights event later this month, potentially joined by fellow uncommitted Opening competitors Damar Hamlin (cornerback) and Donnie Corley (wide receiver).
Top overall 2016 recruit Rashan Gary is the biggest fish in the pond at this point and previously visited Columbus this spring. The Buckeyes will work to welcome him yet again, and he's already a fan of assistant Larry Johnson.
"He got their defensive line play to increase a lot. The stats speak for itself. When he came in, he developed them, and you can tell on film," Gary said.
Ohio State Commits Propel Team to Seven-on-Seven Title
A star-studded seven-on-seven tournament ended with Team Lunar Beast capturing the championship trophy. It's a squad that featured multiple Buckeyes pledges.
Wide receiver Austin Mack, a 4-star talent who committed to Ohio State in June, came up huge throughout the tournament. His performance featured this phenomenal grab along the sideline:
Following the championship-game victory, Mack showed Buckeyes fans some love:
"It was great getting together with my future teammates and showing what we can do against the best in the country," McCall said. "I think we can do some big things together at Ohio State."
Mack shared that sentiment.
"We won a championship here, and I think we can do the same thing in college," he said. "It's been an amazing experience and gave us an opportunity to bond before we all head to Columbus."
Quotes obtained firsthand by Bleacher Report National Recruiting Analysts Tyler Donohue and Sanjay Kirpalani.
Recruit ratings courtesy of 247Sports.