The Opening Regionals (formerly Nike Football Training Camps) have been known to attract some of their area’s top talent. On Sunday, Columbus gets its shot and could raise the bar for future camps.
Irish Illustrated will be in Columbus for all the action as a handful of prospects punch their tickets to The Opening Finals in Beaverton, Ore., in July.
Nearly 400 prospects are expected to attend with 55 already committed to Division I programs. Another 151 players on the registration list already have major scholarship offers in hand.
The camp is also expected to feature 13 members of the Scout 300. That group is led by Notre Dame commitment Tommy Kraemer, who checks in at No. 33. Fellow commitment Liam Eichenberg, who is ranked No. 66, will join the offensive line group.
Also expected to suit up Sunday are Ohio State commitments Jonathon Cooper (No. 43), Jake Hausmann (No. 95), Michael Jordan (No. 147) and Kierre Hawkins (No. 231). Other ranked commitments scheduled to be in Columbus are No. 99 Miles Sanders (Penn State), No. 103 Drake Jackson (Kentucky) and No. 283 Brandon Peters (Michigan).
Uncommitted prospects Prince Michael-Sammons, Luke Farrell and Michael Onwenu round out the group of ranked players.
Several top prospects in the Class of 2017 will also compete.
Five-star offensive lineman Josh Myers, an Ohio State commitment, headlines the group of rising juniors. Danny Clark, also an Ohio State commitment, Hunter Johnson, Richard LeCounte, Donovan Peoples-Jones, Josh Ross and Lamont Wade all have earned early four-star rankings. Johnson is Notre Dame’s top quarterback target in the junior class and got a visit from offensive coordinator Mike Sanford on Friday.
In addition to Kraemer and Eichenberg, Notre Dame has shown interest in rising seniors Noah Burks, Jeremy Darvin, Luke Farrell, Damar Hamlin, Jamir Jones, Michael-Sammons and Ikenna Okeke.
Rising juniors Matt Bockhorst, Jerron Cage, Paris Ford, Donovan Peoples-Jones, Josh Ross, Lamont Wade, Jedrick Willis and Russ Yeast have also heard from the Irish staff. Cage is the younger brother of rising sophomore defensive tackle Daniel Cage. Ford is the younger brother of former Irish cornerback Darrin Walls.
While every position includes a handful of top prospects, the quarterback and offensive line groups will be especially intense.
The line features four seniors ranked in the top 150, plus a five-star junior. With Kraemer and Eichenberg featuring, it will also have a Notre Dame tint.
The quarterback spot includes senior Michigan commit Brandon Peters (No. 283 overall) and junior Ohio State commit Danny Clark. There’s also South Carolina commitment Brandon McIlwain, Penn State commit Jake Zembiec and Michigan State commit Messiah deWeaver. Eighteen other quarterbacks set to attend hold at least one Division I offer.
Fortunately for those quarterbacks, they’ll have a talented group of tight ends to target.
Led by Hausmann, Hawkins and Farrell, the position includes six other committed players and at least eight others with Division I offers. Mississippi commit Gabe Angel, Michigan State commit Noah Davis and Michigan commit Carter Dunaway all should be in the discussion for camp honors. Rising sophomore Leonard Taylor already holds offers from Kentucky and Louisville and could raise his stock with a strong performance.
The wide receiver position is short on star power with Peoples-Jones coming in as the most heralded of the bunch, but it is a deep group.
Yeast and Daniel Crowell (Mississippi commit), Desmond Fitzpatrick (Louisville), Dakota Holtzclaw (Kentucky), Danny Davis, Jaylen Harris, J.D. Spielman and Hunter Rison all have the potential to earn MVP honors.
Defensively, Hamlin, LeCounte, Okeke, Lamont Wade, Austin Andrews (Michigan State) and Rontavious Groves will be among the top defensive backs at the camp. Sammons, Cooper, Darvin, Cage and Rashad Wheeler are among the most highly recruited along the defensive line.
At linebacker, look for Coughlin, Ross, Burks and Derrick Pitts to rise above the rest of the competition. Jango Glackin has come on strong since transferring to IMG Academy in Florida and could improve his recruiting stock with a technical performance in coverage.
Longtime Notre Dame targets Austin Mack and Auston Robertson, will visit Notre Dame today followed by a Saturday stop at Michigan before announcing commitments at the RAS camp outside Fort Wayne on June 7.
Mack and Robertson will spend most of their time on campus with Brian Kelly. Associate head coach Mike Denbrock may be present as well, pending his travel arrangements with the spring evaluation period wrapping up today.
Mack has an unofficial top four of Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State and Tennessee. The Buckeyes are expected to be the last program standing for the four-star receiver.
Robertson has a top three of Michigan, Michigan State and Notre Dame. The Spartans are the favorite to land him next week, but Notre Dame will present its academic plan for the four-star defensive end one final time. Ohio State had been running third for Robertson, but he swapped the Wolverines in for the Buckeyes earlier this month.UPDATE: For post-visit reaction from both Mack and Robertson, click here.
Earlier this week offensive line coach Harry Hiestand visited three-star offensive guard Parker Boudreaux of Orlando (Fla.) Bishop Moore for a second time this spring. The trio of schools that have been most linked with Boudreaux are Clemson, Notre Dame and Penn State. The Tigers have the edge going into the summer, but Notre Dame is recruiting him harder.
Boudreaux will visit Notre Dame June 10. He is tentatively scheduled to Auburn this weekend.
- On Wednesday, Denbrock and defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder visited Gardena (Calif.) Serra to see elite defensive backs C.J. Pollard and Brandon Burton. Both have Notre Dame offers but are USC leans. Pollard plans to commit at The Opening but sill take official visits in the fall. Notre Dame could land one after the Irish moved into his top six upon offering him this fall.
Serra also touts four-star dual-threat Arizona quarterback commit Khalil Tate. Notre Dame is very high on Tate as an athlete prospect, but Tate has his mind set on competing at quarterback in college. Notre Dame was impressed with what it saw from Tate on Wednesday in the pocket, and he’s worth monitoring as a potential quarterback target down the road, but Notre Dame is not ready to throw its hat in the ring for quarterback just yet.
Damian Alloway - Denbrock visited Alloway on Thursday and left a scholarship offer for the four-star receiver. Alloway immediately moved Notre Dame into a lead pack along with Cal, UCLA and Wisconsin. UCLA and Notre Dame will probably do battle here until the end.
Korey Charles - Notre Dame offered this Tallahassee safety with the skill set to play offense too. Charles has yet to cut his list, but Clemson, Florida, Miami and Mississippi State are coming after him the hardest.
Chase Claypool - Notre Dame went north of the border to offer Claypool, a fast rising jumbo receiver with several offers pouring in this spring. Arizona, Michigan, Mississippi State, Nebraska, Oregon and Washington are some other offers on the table. Claypool could grow into a hybrid tight end, a la incoming Irish freshman Alize Jones.
Mark Jackson - The defensive end net widened with an offer to Jackson, a four-star prospect from Cibolo, Texas. Regional powers are already lined up for the pass rusher with Arkansas, Houston, Missouri, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, TCU, Texas and Texas A&M all involved.