BEAVERTON, Ore. – No summer event brings talent together quite like The Opening Finals.
Prospects from across the country descend on the Nike campus this week for a few days of competition, capped by a round robin 7-on-7 tournament. That’s where the skill positions go on display while the big men duke it out in the trenches.
Notre Dame doesn’t have any current commitments on the list of participants, although that’s expected to change before the week’s end. Irish Illustrated takes a look at the storylines on offense.
Hainsey, Holmes headline announcements
Most everyone sees this week going from quiet to noisemaking for Notre Dame and its current recruiting haul.
Four-star offensive tackle Robert Hainsey and four-star receiver/running back C.J. Holmes are both planning to announce verbal commitments at The Opening Finals. Both visited for Irish Invasion before setting decision time frames.
Hainsey lists the Irish as finalists alongside Michigan and Michigan State. Holmes is set to announce sometime Friday.
Notre Dame appears to have momentum with both coming out of those recent visits. Adding the duo would boost a recruiting class that’s already sitting No. 6 overall on Scout’s team rankings. It would also continue a productive run since the middle of June as Jonathon MacCollister, Jordan Pouncey and Saiid Adebo have all committed.
Right now the Irish have 13 commitments overall, seven of which have four-star ratings and are inside the latest Scout300. That number should only grow this week.
Five Questions on the Offense:
1.) What prospect are you most interested to see that you've never watched in person before?
Jake Brown: Foster Sarell is definitely my guy. He’s been highly regarded for a long time and that’s saying something for a prospect in the Pacific Northwest. Sarell could be another huge piece to the offensive line group Harry Hiestand is putting together in the Class of 2017. I’m intrigued to see how he stacks up against some of the elite defensive linemen on hand.
Steve Hare: Robert Hainsey. It looks like Hainsey could soon add his name to Irish commitment column. It will be nice to see the skill set that attracted so many college coaches.
2.) Outside C.J. Holmes and Robert Hainsey, who's most likely to commit to Notre Dame at some point?
Jake Brown: It’s hard to put your finger on somebody here. I’ll take a shot in the dark and say Sarell. Why not?
Steve Hare: Jaelen Gill. Gill is just a junior and has another full year of recruiting but the early returns have been favorable for the Irish and Gill is thinking about the 40-year decision.
3.) What position group is most talented?
Jake Brown: Running back looks really good with five-star prospects Stephen Carr, Najee Harris and Cam Akers. Plus there’s a nice group of four-stars that could make their mark this week as well. Maybe it’s a little top heavy, but that’s a good thing.
Steve Hare: The offensive line is loaded with Hainsey, Wyatt Davis, Josh Myers, Jamaree Salyer, Foster Sarrell, Trey Smtih, Andrew Thomas and a handful of others with Notre Dame offers.
4.) If you were starting a team, which prospect on offense would you take No. 1 overall?
Jake Brown: Quarterback Davis Mills would be first off the board for me. Size and arm strength are prototypical combination.
Steve Hare: Typically I’d start with a quarterback but there isn’t one I consider to be head and shoulders above the rest. That leads me to the offensive line where Wyatt Davis is just a special prospect.
5.) Pick one player that has something to prove and why.
Jake Brown: I’m going with Trey Smith here. It’s not like he’s underrated nationally — Smith has gotten plenty of love through this process so far. I watched him absolutely dominate competition at The Opening Regional outside Chicago. I’d like to see him back that up against national competition. Everyone has something to prove at these events, even those that are already highly ranked.
Steve Hare: Matt Bockhorst. The Clemson commit held out as long as he could for Notre Dame to offer. The Irish decided he wasn’t good enough. His consolation prize was committing to the national runner-up.
Here’s a list of Notre Dame targets scheduled to participate in The Opening Finals: