|Scout.com's complete coverage of The Opening 2013 presented by NIKE|
UCLA prospects have *** next to their name
Top 5 Defensive Surprises
-- by Allen Trieu
Ainuu Taua*** (6'1, 270) - Lompoc (Ca.)
In a group of big, physical linemen on both sides, Taua was one of the smaller guys there, but everyone quickly learned not to underestimate him as he used his quickness, get-off, motor and competitiveness to make his mark as one of the toughest defensive linemen to handle in one on ones. He's already a four-star, but outperformed expectations and surprised many who had not seen him before and judged the book by its cover.
Chad Thomas (6'5, 240) - Miami Booker T. Washington (Fla.)
Thomas was always considered a long, athletic kid with upside, but he showed more sides to his game by powering through some of the strongest and biggest offensive linemen in attendance. He tossed a couple aside with ease and arguably put on the most impressive performance of any defensive linemen there and demonstrated that he's improving and putting himself among elite company.
Rashaan Evans*** (6'3, 218) - Auburn (Ala.)
Listed as a defensive end, Evans played linebacker in 7 on 7 and was very impressive in coverage. He had several interceptions and big plays dropping back and has now let the world know that he can not only come forward, but can drop into coverage as well. he still may ultimately end up with his hand down, but he used this event to show that he can do a lot more than just rush the passer.
Bijhon Jackson (6'2, 315) - El Dorado (Ar.)
Jackson was the lowest ranked of the defensive line group, but he did not play like it. His strong, bowling ball type frame and powerful style made him a handful for offensive linemen. He wasn't all power though, as he showed some quickness and moves in the one on ones. Ranking aside, he appears to be a kid who could add more offers if he performs during his senior season like he did in Oregon.
Adarius Pickett*** (6'0, 185) - El Cerrito (Ca.)
All though he is a four-star, there were many corners with higher rankings and bigger press clippings than Pickett, but his performance put him right there with any of them. He provided tight coverage throughout the one on ones and certainly during two days of 7 on 7 and those who were not familiar with him going in certainly knew his name by the end of the event.
Top 11 Defensive Performers
-- by Jamie Newberg
Jamal Adams S (6-0/190) - Lewisville, Texas/Hebron
The nation's No. 2 safety prospect didn't disappoint at The Opening, showcasing his athleticism and range in coverage. He also has ball skills, instincts and body control in the air. Adams is a ball-hawk with as much upside in the secondary as anyone in this 2014 class.
Budda Baker*** ATH (5-10/170) - Bellevue, Wa.
Baker showed why he was one of the very best players in attendance at the Opening regardless of position. He starred on both sides of the ball. Defensively he has range, speed and superior athleticism. There's no doubt that Baker solidified himself as one of the premier athletes in the 2014 class as a receiver or defensive back. He's scary good.
Quin Blanding S (6-2/202 ) - Virginia Beach, Va./Bayside
Blanding was the only unanimous selection for the top 11, garnering first team votes from all eight FoxSportsNext scouts. I am not sure there was a more steady player at the Opening then Blanding. It seems as though in every game he's in the right place at the right time with a key pass breakup or interception. This Virginia commitment rarely got beat.
Dante Booker LB (6-3/225) - Akron, Ohio/St. Vincent-St. Mary
This Ohio State commitment had one of the big plays of day three with an interception return for touchdown as time expired to lead his 7-on-7 team to a victory over the top seed. This is a speedy ‘backer that ran 4.52 [forty] at 6-foot-3 and 225-pounds on Monday. Wow. He's big and agile and looks like a kid that could blossom into something special in Columbus.
Tony Brown CB (6-1/185) - Beaumont, Texas/Ozen -
At 6-foot-1 and 185-pounds, Brown is a very good cornerback who's somewhat raw but has elite size, speed and length. He's athletic and makes plays on the other side of the ball as well. On defense he's active and always around the ball. Brown has very good ball skills and can flip his hips and run with anyone in Oregon. He's showed excellent leadership skills and there's no doubt that his best football is in front of him.
Duke Dawson CB (5-11/185) - Cross City, Fla./ Dixie County
Dawson capped a big spring with an outstanding performance in Oregon at the Opening. In fact, you could make a case that he was the big secondary surprise of this event. He's a physical cornerback who could also play safety. He's explosive, instinctive and always around the ball. He plays bigger than his 5-11 body.
Rashaan Evans*** LB (6-3/218) – Auburn, Ala.
Evans is a defensive end prospect that had a nice Opening camp playing linebacker, showcasing his speed and athleticism in space and in coverage. He made big plays each of the final days. This is a long and quick cat that has a great future in front of him.
Adoree Jackson*** CB (5-10/170 ) - Gardena, Calif./Junipero Serra
While his 7-on-7 team got knocked out earlier than expected it wasn't the fault of Jackson. This kid is a monster athlete on both sides of the ball. He's freakishly athletic with outstanding speed and ball skills and the Opening he showed he can be a shutdown cornerback. What's scary is that he's better offensively and would be a dynamic receiver in a spread attack.
Jonathan Lockett CB (5-11/170) - Santa Ana, Calif./Mater Dei
Lockett and Duke Dawson had to be the big surprises at the corner position. This is a lock down guy all the way. He looked outstanding at NFTC and carried the same play throughout the 7-on tournament on days two and three. While he lacks great size Lockett does everything else very well at the position and he plays with a little swag and confidence that you have to have for a corner.
Adarius Pickett*** CB (6-0/185 ) El Cerrito, Calif.
Pickett earned All-Opening honors after a huge day on day three with two key very late pass breakups to help secure wins and help his 7-on team to a championship. He showed very good cover skills, did well in the SPARQ testing and proved why he's one of the very best defensive backs in the country. He may not be as known as some of the others but this kid can certainly play.
Jalen Tabor CB (6-1/195) Washington D.C./Edison-Friendship
Tabor doesn't have the jets of Jackson or the athleticism of Brown but he does have great size, length and instincts for the position. Add that to his physical style and you have a rare big corner that can play at a very high level. This kid was rarely beaten at the Opening.
Scott Kennedy, Brandon Huffman, Greg Biggins, Greg Powers, Alan Trieu, Brian Dohn and Chad Simmons all contributed to this story.
The Top 11 Offensive Performers
-- By Greg Biggins
Sean White, QB (6-1, 195) – Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) University School
White was the final player picked for the Elite 11 but he made the most of it. Not only did White lead his team to the 7 on 7 tournament championship, he was selected as the Elite 11 MVP by the Elite 11 staff following the event. White showed great poise, made quick decisions and was very accurate throughout the event. Don't be surprised to see a few more colleges jump on the White bandwagon following the event.
Kyle Allen, QB (6-3, 200)- Scottsdale (Ariz.) Desert Mountain
Allen was the best offensive player in the event during the first day of pool play and lived up to his lofty reputation as the nation's top signal caller. In one of the bigger shockers of the event, his 7 on 7 team that steamrolled everyone in pool play went two and out the following day in the championship round. As a result, Allen didn't have the opportunity to shine on the big stage like White did but in terms of pocket presence, feel for the game and ability to read and react and get the ball out quickly, he had no peers in Portland.
Will Grier, QB (6-2.5, 181) – Davidson Day (N.C.)
The future Florida Gator was impressive in every aspect of this camp. He was rated the No. 3 QB in the camp by the Elite 11 staff, looked very good in the 7 on 7 portion of the event and his 3.96 shuttle time was the fastest ever by a quarterback at The Opening. Grier flashed a quick release, a smooth easy delivery and the arm strength to make any throw needed. You can make an argument that he's right behind Allen as the best quarterback prospect in the nation this year.
Joe Mixon***, RB (6-1, 210) – Oakley (Calif.) Freedom
Mixon was a consensus choice by the staff as the top back in the event. He plays in a ton of 7 on 7 competition back home and is a naturally gifted pass catcher so it wasn't a surprise to see him dominate the way he did. Mixon was often split out wide to take advantage of his size, speed and hands and although a top five running back nationally, Mixon showed he could easily be a nationally recruited receiver as well.
Ermon Lane, WR (6-2, 196) – Homestead (Fla.)
There isn't a consensus No. 1 receiver in the country this year but Lane made a strong case after his performance at The Opening. Lane has everything you could want in a potential No. 1 receiver- he has good size, very good speed, catches the ball and competes. He made several big plays all tournament long and was an impossible cover for every opposing corner he went up against. He clocked a 4.52-40 in the SPARQ testing as well and just had an overall great event.
Malachi Dupre***, WR (6-2.5, 186) – River Ridge (La.) John Curtis
|Josh Malone showed pure pass-catching ability at The Opening.|
|(Danny Parker/FOX Sports NEXT)|
Devante Noil, WR (5-10.5, 181) – New Orleans (La.) Edna Karr
Noil kicked off the week with a bang by destroying the SPARQ testing and finishing with the second highest score in the events history. He clocked a 4.40-40 but it was his 45" vertical jump that wowed everyone. He then showed he was much more than just a workout guy and was one of the most explosive receivers on the field during the first day of competition before being slowed down by a leg injury.
Josh Malone***, WR (6-2, 191) – Gallatin (Tenn.) Station Camp
Malone is a big, smooth receiver who makes everything look easy. He has explosive speed and can make plays down the field and also runs well after the catch. For all his physical tools, Malone is also a very pure pass catcher, always uses his hands and showed off a very nice upside. If he can get more physical against press, he has a chance to be special at the next level.
Trevion Thompson, WR (6-2, 188) – Durham (N.C.) Hillside
You can make an argument that Thompson had the best day of any of the wide outs during Tuesday's pool play round. He's yet another receiver in that 6-2 mold that uses his size and strength to create easy separation. He's physical at the line and easily bullied his way past press coverage and catches everything with his hands, away from his body. He's not a burner but runs well enough and is a very good looking prospect.
Henry Mondeaux, TE (6-5, 252) – Portland (Ore.) Jesuit
Mondeaux was a late addition and made the most of it with a very strong performance. He has a massive frame and was an easy target for his quarterbacks to find all tournament long. For a big man, Mondeaux runs well, has strong hands and had no problem getting open. His recruitment is still open but expect Oregon, Washington, Cal and Nebraska to be in it until the end.
Juju Smith***, ATH (6-1, 206) – Long Beach Poly (Calif.)
Smith is known more locally as a hard hitting safety but he played a ton of receiver and looked very good. Smith caught the ball very well, made plays down the field and wasn't afraid to go over the middle. Smith has a big frame and uses it well and always runs faster than his 40 time as well. He's able to create separation and showed he could play on either side of the ball in college.
Brandon Huffman, Brian Dohn, Greg Powers, Scott Kennedy, Jamie Newberg, Allen Trieu, and Chad Simmons contributed to this feature.
Top Five Defensive Line
-- by Brandon Huffman
Ainuu Taua*** (6'0, 270) - Lompoc (Calif.)
The 1on1 MVP, Taua started a little slow on the first day but caught fire on the second day. Generously listed at 6-0, Taua used his quickness off the ball and non-stop motor to take over on Wednesday. He plays real low and with great leverage and gets off the snap instantly.
Bijhon Jackson (6'3, 315) - El Dorado (Ark.)
The Arkansas commit was impressive all week. Though he came in as a 3-star, he left a big impression, with his quickness and moves in the one-on-ones, and his agility, impressive considering his size. He has a quick first step and flew off the line of scrimmage at the snap and played nice and low.
Chad Thomas (6'5, 240) - Miami (Fla.) Booker T.
The overall defensive line MVP, Thomas' athleticism was what first caught your eyes, but he didn't just use his speed and quickness off the ball to win 1on1s, he showed a wide variety of moves and impressive strength to take over in the 1on1s. His ceiling is high and he has a chance to be one of the premier defensive linemen nationally when it's all said and done.
Gerald Willis (6'4, 270) - New Orleans (La.) Edna Karr
Willis looks like he could end up as a tackle down the line, but during The Opening, he put his hand down off the edge, and showed great burst and plenty of moves. He also was one of the few linemen to even hang with Cameron Robinson, beating him twice in fact.
Solomon Thomas*** (6'3, 256) - Coppell (Texas)
Possibly the most consistent defensive linemen from Day One to Day Three, Thomas has great strength and a motor that doesn't turn off. One of the most technically sound participants in the entire event, Thomas used that with his power to have a sterling performance all week.
Greg Biggins, Brian Dohn, Greg Powers, Scott Kennedy, Jamie Newberg, Allen Trieu, and Chad Simmons contributed to this feature.