The Opening: Day 3 Offensive Line Recap

The Linemen Challenge got heated, intense and chippy on the final day of The Opening. Fox Sports NEXT takes a look at the top five offensive linemen as well as few tidbits on some of the other players.

The defensive line is usually dominant in 1-on-1s, but the offensive line group at The Opening did a fantastic job throughout the three-day event, and it culminated with a strong showing in Wednesday's final day.

When the Final Five battled, it was the offensive line taking the title with a 3-2 win as five-star Cameron Robinson was dominant and USC commit Toa Lobendah and Alabama commit J.C. Hassenauer won their matchups. The other two offensive line finalists were Damien Mama and Roderick Taylor.

However, when looking at the top offensive line performers on the day, five stood out.:

Cameron Robinson, OT, 6-5, 330, West Monroe (La.) High
Skinny:He is the No. 1 offensive tackle in the class, and he is light years ahead of anyone else in the class. He was so good that when he was beaten on a rep (he lost his balance) on an inside move by Garrald McDowell.

Robinson has it all, and displayed it all. He is long, his feet are very good, he didn't reach, he moved well from side-to-side, he withstood bull rushes and he used his length. He also doesn't panic or get ahead of himself, and he plays with incredible control even against the best.

When it came to the Final Five, he easily handled Shake Heights (Ohio) defensive end and Tennessee commit Joe Henderson. Either Alabama or LSU will get an unbelievably talented prospect.

Trevor Darling, OT, 6-4 ½, 327, Miami (Fla.) Central
Skinny: Darling didn't make The Opening's top five, but he made FOXSportsNEXT's list for his performance Wednesday. The Miami commit looked comfortable at right tackle. He kick-stepped to take away the outside rush and kept a nice knee bend to aid in his balance. He was able to withstand the initial punch by the defensive line and stay in his stance.

When defensive ends tried to get to the outside, he was able to use his length and size to get a good lean and push the pass rusher behind the quarterback and protect the pocket. Darling also likes to compete, and he does not back down.

J.C. Hassenauer, 6-2 ½, 292, East Ridge High, Woodbury, Minn.
Skinny: Hassenauer, an Alabama commit, did a really nice job of handling the pressure of playing center, which is no easy proposition in a competition like this one. He was able to snap the ball and move his feet quickly while keeping a wide base and not getting pushed back. And when the pressure was on in the Final Five, he stone-walled one of the top defensive tackles in the event in Lompoc (Calif.) High's Ainuu Taua.

In three reps, Hassenauer went undefeated. On the first one, he was able to counter Taua's quick hands with his own hand movements, then held perfect position when Taua tried a spin move but lost his footing. The series ended with Taua trying to use power, but to no avail. Even Taua was impressed, showing good sportsmanship by tapping Hassenauer on the helmet after the battle.

Roderick Taylor, OG/OT, 6-2 ½, 323, Callaway High, Jackson, Miss.
Skinny:One of the most dominating defensive ends on the day was Booker T. Washington High (Miami) Chad Thomas, and Taylor went against him in the Final Five and how it ended shows the fight in Taylor. Taylor battled but lost the first two reps, but then finished off the competition by keeping his body between Thomas and the quarterback.

Throughout the day, Taylor demonstrated good body control and an ability to handle an array of moves, be it a bull rush, speed on the edge or an inside move. He slid his feet well and, for the most part, was patient and didn't reach. During on prelim rep, Taylor showed his toughness when he started getting bent back but recovered in time to finish the play. FOXSportsNEXt views this as a battle between Ole Miss and Alabama for his signature.

Toa Lobendahn, OG, 6-3, 292, La Habra (Calif.) High
Skinny: Lobendhan, a USC commit, was stellar in run blocking. He remained low and exploded and was able to drive defensive tackles backward. When it came to the Final Five, he went against five-star Andrew Brown, a Virginia commit from Oscar Smith High (Chesapeake, Va.), and won the round in a very tough battle.

Lobendahn's best of the three reps came on the second one when he caught Brown off balance and pushed him to the ground. During a prelim battle with Bellevue (Wash.) High's Marcus Griffin, Lobendahn showed good poise on an inside move to make the block without reaching or getting off balance.

Other notes

  • Kansas commit Jacob Bragg of Nacogdoches, Texas, (hometown of U.S. Soccer captain Clint Dempsey), had a nice battle against Har-Ber High (Springdale, Ark.) defensive tackle Josh Frazier, who was wearing a camera atop his helmet. But the force of Bragg's initial punch sent the camera flying, and he won the rep by getting Frazier off balance quickly.

  • Damien Mama of St. John Bosco (Bellflower, Calif.) fared better at guard than tackle. He moved well despite weighing in at 370 pounds. As a guard, he slid his feet well and his initial punch was disruptive.

  • Providence High (Charlotte, N.C.) offensive tackle Bentley Spain did a nice job with toughness and recovery. In one rep, he was pushed back by Eagles Landing Christian Academy (McDonough, Ga.) defensive lineman Andrew Williams, but he squared his body and finished the play to earn a draw.

  • Red Bank (N.J.) Catholic High offensive tackle Quenton Nelson, Notre Dame, struggled during the day at right and left tackle as defensive ends used their speed to get the corner on him several times.

  • Lancaster (Ohio) High offensive tackle Kyle Trout, an Ohio State commit, was able to learn he will need to increase his strength as he was constantly pushed backward in the drills. He fared much better and looked more comfortable as a right tackle than a left tackle.


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