WESTERVILLE, Ohio – James McCann Stadium on the campus of Westerville North High School was the latest stop in The Opening’s search for top high school talent.
The regional camp attracted more than 500 prospects, including more than a dozen Notre Dame targets, all in search of a golden ticket to The Opening Finals in Oregon later this summer.
Irish Illustrated was on hand to scout the talent.
Here’s a look at some of Notre Dame’s top prospects – current and former – in the order they appear in the video.
Bockhorst committed to Clemson in January, but only after giving the Irish ample time to offer. He visited South Bend several times and didn’t hide the fact he had a heavy interest in the Irish.
At camp, Bockhorst had some ups and downs but he won most of his one-on-one reps and was able to handle both the strength and speed of the defensive linemen he faced. He’s got quick feet and puts himself in good position to carry out his assignments.
Hinish committed to Notre Dame in March and before camp he called Notre Dame the “Mecca of College Football.”
He hoped to earn an invitation to the finals in Oregon. That didn’t happen but he was named Defensive Line MVP. He opened the one-on-ones with a split decision against OL MVP Jordan Reid then crushed the other offensive linemen he faced.
Hinish is big, strong and fast and the Irish coaching staff has compared him to former Notre Dame D-lineman Sheldon Day.
Jurkovec, also a gifted basketball player, was one of the most athletic quarterbacks at camp and one of the only ones who successfully completed a 16-yard comeback route. That demonstrates both his accuracy and arm strength.
He was at his best rolling out to either his right or his left, an important skill for spread quarterbacks.
Jurkovec was edged out for the QB MVP award by Penn State commitment Sean Clifford. A recount might be in order as Jurkovec was head and shoulders better than the rest of the competition.
Wills was one of the top linemen at the camp. He didn’t have the opportunity to go head-to-head with some of the top defensive linemen, which probably hurt his chances at winning the MVP award.
But, he wasn’t tested often and when he was he passed with flying colors.
He is easily able to move his big body into position to cut off the defensive ends hoping to use their speed to get to the corner. He also cut off the others trying to dart inside.
Wills packs a powerful punch and maintains his balance throughout his blocks.
Peoples-Jones punched his ticket to The Opening Finals for the second straight year by making his case as the overall MVP of the event. That isn’t an actual award but if it was, Peoples-Jones would have been the favorite to win it.
His athleticism is off the charts and his competitiveness helped him win his one-on-ones against the best defensive backs at the event.
He faced Derrek Pitts and Maleik Gray, two of the top DBs in the nation, and still made the plays.
Peoples-Jones has size, speed, quickness and he doesn’t drop the ball.
The move he put on Gray to end the one-on-ones was a thing of beauty.
Gray bit hard on the move Peoples-Jones put on him but he was solid throughout the day.
He has excellent size and a worked well in space.
The following players weren’t featured in the Irish Illustrated video but made an impression during The Opening Regional.
The four-star sophomore finished the testing portion of the event with the sixth highest rating then went out and showcased his ability to catch the ball and make linebackers look silly trying to catch him.
He possesses the ability to quickly change directions without losing speed and has reliable hands.
The three-star defensive back has a lot of potential. He has size, speed and good instincts.
The one-on-ones give the wide receiver a bit of an advantage but Stritzinger never gave up ground to the wide receivers and reacted well to the offensive player’s attempts to shake him.
The sophomore defensive lineman wasn’t out of place at the camp but his inexperience showed at times.
Primarily a JV player last fall, Hawkins has already landed some major college offers based on his size and ceiling.
He had trouble beating some of the better offensive linemen who were able to match his speed and strength.
He’ll have to continue to develop the basic skills and enhance the advanced moves to help him move into the elite group of 2018 defensive linemen.