Opening: Michigan Day 2 Recap

The Michigan Insider's Josh Newkirk and Sam Webb recaps Saturday's action at The Opening Finals focusing on Michigan commits and top prospects.

BEAVERTON, ORE. -- After some early struggles, Michigan 2017 quarterback commit Dylan McCaffrey ended his day with nice consistency, throwing for three touchdowns for team Hypercool. 

In his first game, he quarterbacked three drives for team Hypercool. His second drive, he showed good poise, making nice touch passes as he led his team inside his opponent’s red-zone. However, his momentum would end there, as McCaffrey would throw his lone interception on the day in the end zone, as the opposing team returned it for the score.

His second game, to his credit, was much better. McCaffrey led Hypercool from behind for a last second victory, throwing two touchdowns, including a 40+ yard fade route for his first TD and the winning score to (U-M prospect) four-star TE Josh Falo  -- with no time left on the clock for the win – for his second.

In game three, keeping his momentum alive, McCaffrey would lead his lead his team to an opening drive score. His second drive fell short, and didn’t play in the second half.

He didn’t play much in Hypercool’s opening playoff game. He was able to get in the last few series, and connected again with Falo for a key first down that iced the game.

Overall, it was solid day for U-M’s quarterback of the future. He started off slow, but finally found his groove in game two. You saw his nice touch on passes. He throws a pretty ball. He doesn’t have elite velocity yet, but makes up for it with his decision-making and field awareness.

Sam’s Take: McCaffrey has gotten better as the competition has gone on.  He has worked the middle of the field extremely well and always knows where his check-down his.  Thus far when it comes to downfield passing the seams have been his target area… especially when Sacramento (Calif.) Inderkum tight end Josh Falo is working them. (Some chemistry has definitely formed there.) Accuracy has been McCaffrey’s strongest suit, as evidenced by three consecutive touchdown drives from game two (including the game-winning drive) into game three. What we haven’t seen from him yet are connections on shots down the field to the outside. That will be something to look for on Championship Sunday.

Four-star TE Josh Falo had an impressive day for Hypercool. If they needed a key first down, Falo was their guy in the middle of the field to make the play. A huge target at 6-foot-5, 230-pounds, the Inderkum (Calif.) standout certainly looks the part of a future big time TE in college football.

Sam’s Take: Josh Falo had a few drops early on, but boy did he come on strong after that. Whether it’s dragging across the middle or attacking down the seam, Falo presents a big target for quarterbacks that can haul in passes in traffic.  Thus far he has been faster than most linebackers he has faced and can outmuscle safeties. The few big plays we’ve seen down the field for Team Hypercool have been to Falo, and after each one his undeniable swagger has been impossible to miss. The key is consistency. He is clearly one of the best athletes at his position in high school. Eliminate the pesky drops and he’ll be one of the best tight ends in college too.

Nico Collins had a solid, but not great day for Hypercool. He made a few catches over the middle. No highlight real catches that you might expect. Still he has another day to compete. Sat out the last game, indicating he might be dealing with an injury. That said, he did reiterate to us in an interview that Michigan is definitely his leader.

A.J. Dillon, who is committed to Michigan, made some nice catches over the middle today. He had a nice 2-point conversion in Hypercool’s playoff win to end the day. Though 7v7 isn’t a great showcase for running backs, but he did make all the catches that came his way.

Same thing for fellow U-M running back commit O'Maury Samuels, nothing big to note. He made a couple catches, but again, not a great competition for RB’s to showcase their talents.

U-M linebacker commit Josh Ross is known for his run stopping abilities. Today at The Opening it gave Ross another chance to show he can cover in space, which he did. He held his own in coverage all day. He was never badly burned. He’s still a little stiff, but overall had a good day in 7v7 play.

Top linebacker prospect Drew Singleton, like Ross, is more of run stopper. He still moved pretty well in open space. You see his athleticism, had a solid day overall.

Sam’s take: The linebacking contingent of interest to Michigan on Team Hypercool – commitment Josh Ross and targets Drew Singleton and Jordan Anthony – have had solid showings. We’ve seen all three be adequate in coverage. Singleton showed good speed tracking plays to the perimeter, Anthony showed good zone awareness… actually diving to break up a pass across the middle in game two, and Ross was clearly the most physical… literally tackling a tight end a tight end of the line. However, as is the case with many linebackers these three can and will show better with the pads on.

At 6-foot-3, 180-pounds, Benjamin St. Juste was making plays on island all day. He showcases nice hips and makes nice breaks on the ball. He had a couple tipped balls and was never beaten badly on the day. Because he’s so long, St. Juste has the ability to make up on a play that other CB’s would otherwise be beat. He’ll need to work on his technique, but still, this kid can play.

Sam’s take: St. Juste will definitely leave The Opening with more confidence.  With just one day of competition left the Canadian defensive back has already proven he belongs and has shown why Michigan leapt at the chance to offer him at its camp last summer. His incredible length is obvious. That attribute aided him consistently and was readily apparent on a jump-ball he knocked away from four-star wideout Tee Higgins in the end zone in game two. Later in the same game he showed his great quickness when he was beaten off the line across his face, recovered with a quick burst, then dove to break up a pass at the goal line.  Then later in game three he showed his good speed (4.58) running stride for stride on a nine-route to Higgins before breaking up a pinpoint pass deep down the sideline. The kid has a lot of tools. He just needs to get stronger. That will allow him to jam and redirect receivers and use his size more to his advantage (especially against smaller faster wideouts). That will come with time.  What we can say right now is the kid can definitely play with the big boys.

Detroit (Mich.) King four-star cornerback Ambry Thomas had a good showing. He finished with a lone interception and multiple pass break ups. He gave a up a couple big plays, but that will happen when you’re always on the other team’s best wide receiver. Also lined up at WR when Collins went down. Thomas is just an athlete, and he proved that today.

Sam's take: Thomas came to The Opening with many observers thinking he’s one of the top athletes regardless of position at the prestigious event.  He’ll leave with everyone knowing that that is indeed the case.  You need have only witnessed him play both ways in the opening round of the Nike 7-on-7 tournament Saturday night for confirmation.  With his team depleted at wideout due to injury (Donovan Peoples-Jones hasn’t participated due to a hamstring injury and Nico Collins sat out the tournament game with an undisclosed ailment), the Detroit King standout lined up at receiver and his speed immediately became evident.  On multiple occasions he blew by corners to get deep with relative ease. The quarterbacks didn’t look his way in any of those instances, but that may because they didn’t know the kind of downfield threat they suddenly had at their disposal. They’d be wise to look his way on championship Sunday. As I said in the video above, Thomas is a bona fide beast!

Sam's take: Cesar Ruiz was excellent Saturday.  The IMG Academy center showed exceptional quickness and power in a match-up with fellow Michigan target Jay Tufele. Ruiz has really good feet and was able to get into a leverage position on an extremely quick counterpart. Once the big fella gets in front of an opponent and gets his hands on him he is tough to get around and even tougher to go through. Just a really good showing for the talented youngster.

Sam's take: Foster Sarell looks to be the best lineman at The Opening and is making the case for being the best player here. Simply put, the five-star lineman has it all. He has great size, is a natural bender, he has quick feet, and delivers a powerful punch. When he gets into a college strength & conditioning program he’ll be even better.  That he has lost just two reps in two days at an even that is geared toward the success of pass rushers says it all. He is the real deal.  He mentioned Michigan as one of his top teams and said a visit is possible, but it’s not yet etched in stone.  Look for Michigan to work hard in the coming weeks to firm that up.

Sam's take: Kai-Leon Herbert had really good day. He was matched up Hunter Echols and won two of three reps showing good feet and great lateral quickness. The key for Herbert moving forward as told by his coaches -- is technique. On the couple of times we saw him beaten came when he overset and allowed a pass rusher to get to the inside. A minor technical flaw, according to his coaches, that is easily corrected. You can’t teach his length his length, and his can’t teach his athleticism. And right now, at just 285-pounds, he has room to add 20 to 300 pounds of muscle. This kid is just scratching the service of how good he can be.


The Michigan Insider Top Stories