REDONDO BEACH, Calif. — Of all the athletes who showed up at The Opening Los Angeles regional on Sunday, Brendan Radley-Hiles of Calabasas, California, was one of the few players who competed as a veteran of the competition.
Never mind the fact he's only a sophomore in high school.
At a competition where juniors normally are the featured athletes, Radley-Hiles performed well almost by simply going through the motions. The 2018 defensive back, known around his peers as "Bookie," first participated in The Opening regional two years ago as an eighth-grader. And while he didn't make The Opening finals, he looked far from a rookie.
After watching him Sunday, nothing has changed.
"I was first here in eighth grade, so I was pretty used to this," Radley-Hiles said. "Back then, it was different because I had older guys showing me what to do before I even got to high school. I got to watch them, so I knew what I was going to do when I got there this time."
Although he wasn't invited for The Opening finals on Sunday, Radley-Hiles is still someone expected to be an impact player and a top-ranked defensive back. He has four offers, the latest coming from Nebraska the day after The Opening. UCLA, Arizona and Utah also have offered.
The big question: Why participate as an eighth-grader in a competition geared toward highlighting and pinpointing the elite college football recruiting talent?
"I'm a competitor, man," said Radley-Hiles, who ran the 40-yard dash in 4.51 seconds and completed the 20-yard shuttle in 4.12 seconds. "I'm just a very competitive person, and I want to go against the best. In order to be the best, I know I have to beat the best. I just felt like I should try it, and I held my own. I did pretty good that day."
As an eighth-grader, Radley-Hiles worked out with and followed around several athletes in the 2015 class, including USC's Iman Marshall, Stanford's Trent Irwin, and Cordell Broadus and Stanley Norman, who signed with UCLA and Arizona State, respectively.
"Bookie will be the the top-rated corner [in the 2018 class] and definitely a better ball player than me," Holmes said of Radley-Hiles. "He has some skills that I didn't have at his grade, and the way he is working with myself and the boys at Calabasas, he will be known nationally very soon. Take my word."
When asked if he preferred playing cornerback or safety, Radley-Hiles answered, "Yes." At 5'10" and 175 pounds, he has the stature, speed and coverage skills of a cornerback, but it's his field vision, tackling and ball-hawking skills that make him a viable candidate to be a safety option in the right system.
Radley-Hiles, who announced via Twitter in early February that he was transferring from Bishop Gorman, said he isn't in any rush to conclude his recruiting process and is keeping all options open. He added that schools like USC, Washington State and Oregon State are showing considerable interest.
His current focus right now is getting completely acclimated to the environment at Calabasas. He's hoping to win a state title with his new team and find similar success to what he experienced at Bishop Gorman.
"I just transferred from Bishop Gorman, so it's going to be different adapting," he said. "But these are my brothers. They kill it in the classroom and kill it on the field. It's a great experience for me. It's very humbling being around these guys every day. You get to stay grounded and level-headed. It's a blessing."
Holmes added: "He's my little brother, and I am doing whatever it takes for him to be successful. I can't wait for this upcoming year and hopefully many more years in the near future where I will be able to play alongside him."
And when it's time to compete in The Opening regional next year, perhaps it'll be Radley-Hiles schooling a young player expected to be the next big thing.
Damon Sayles is a National Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. All quotes were obtained firsthand. All player ratings are courtesy of 247Sports' composite rating. Follow Damon via Twitter: @DamonSayles