The Opening: LB Breakdown

Two UCLA prospects at linebacker looked good on the first day of The Opening...

The 7-on-7 competition is reserved for the final two days of The Opening, and Tuesday was filled with Sparq testing and the Nike Football Training Camp. When it came to the linebackers, there was plenty of action as the unit matched up with running backs for one-on-one drills, a two-on-one drill and also some coverage drills. It gave the linebackers a chance to showcase their skills, and while Clemson commit Chad Smith of Sterling (Va.) Dominion and five-star Malik Jefferson of Mesquite (Texas) Poteet did not compete because they were Sparq finalists and were rested for the competition, there were a number of standouts. After the day, came up with five top performers at the position:
Arthur McGinnis, 6-2, 228, New Orleans Warren Easton Charter The uncommitted McGinnis stood out in the 1-on-1s because of his ability to acceleration and play downhill. He projects as an interior linebacker in college, and his ability to explode toward the ball carrier stood out. He was quick and showed good speed in other drills, and he held his own in pass coverage.
Darrin Kirkland, 6-2 220, Indianapolis Lawrence Central Kirkland stood out early in footwork drills and then showed his change of direction and straight ahead speed in one-on-one drills. He moved fast but remained patient. He was able to beat the running back to the point of attack on several drills and used his length well.
Josh Smith, 6-3, 215, Murfreesboro (Tenn.) Oakland Smith, who committed to Vanderbilt at the end of the day, is long and quick, and he used those assets well during the 1-on-1 drills. He was quick to cut off the running back and changed direction well, and did a nice job of breaking down before the “contact” occurred. In coverage, he ran well and did a nice job of running to the sideline.
Osa Masina, 6-4, 205, Salt Lake City (Utah) Brighton Masina, who is uncommitted, needs to add strength and girth, but he showcased his athleticism throughout the day. He was seamless in the footwork drills and he ran well during the two-on-ones and the one-on-ones. Masina also looked comfortable in coverage, and overall he looked solid in each facet.
Justin Hilliard, 6-2, 225, Cincinnati Xavier Hilliard was in control throughout the day, and when it came time for the top five (selected by The Opening coaches) linebackers to match up against the top five running backs at the end of 1-on-1 drills, the Ohio State commit was an easy choice and he dominated Oregon committed Taj Griffin of Powder Springs (Ga.) McEachern in the rep. Hilliard was fast and smooth, and he showed good balance and body control.

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