Top Five UCLA Storylines at The Opening

July 5 -- We take a look at five UCLA recruiting storylines to track this week at The Opening in Beaverton, Ore., where the nation's top talent will gather...

1. How will UCLA-committed defensive ends fare?

With the event's linemen suiting up in full pads to compete in highly anticipated one-on-one battles, it will be interesting to track the two major building blocks in UCLA's recruiting class up to this point. Five-star defensive end Jaelan Phillips told Bruin Report Online last month he was antsy to prove to himself that he belongs among the nation's elite, and he'll have that opportunity matching up against some of the best offensive tackles in the 2017 class. Much of the praise Phillips, the No. 1 defensive end in the West out of Redlands (Calif.) East Valley, has centered around his speed off the edge, but will he be able to showcase some power, too?

Los Angeles Cathedral four-star defensive end Hunter Echols, the other UCLA commit, is behind Phillips in the regional position rankings and checks in at No. 12 nationally heading into the event, so there is certainly some room for movement. The stage will be set for him to make a jump, especially if he shows the fire he displayed at the camp in Oakland. Echols has been open to other schools and appears to like the recruiting process quite a bit, even taking a visit to Michigan to compete at its camp, so he'll likely create headlines one way or another.

2. How will the Bruins' top quarterback target stack up?

It's no secret by now that Jack Sears is one of UCLA's top priorities in this class and he enters The Opening as the only uncommitted quarterback in the event, so all eyes and ears will be on him. The four-star prospect from San Clemente, Calif., performed very well at the Elite 11 Finals in Redondo Beach a few weeks ago, showing confidence in the pocket and hitting receivers in stride despite some tricky winds, and now has the opportunity to follow that up against some of the top defenders in the land. Sears visited UCLA during its elite camp last month and, with an announcement expected sooner rather than later, his standing among a loaded group will be worth monitoring.

3. Will anyone commit to UCLA?

The most likely to announce for the Bruins appears to be Addison Gumbs, the No. 1-rated outside linebacker out of Hayward (Calif.) Stellar Prep. Gumbs has been high on UCLA for a while and, although it hasn't been officially announced, could make his college decision this week. The Bruins are in contention along with the likes of USC and Washington, and he would be another major coup for linebackers coach Scott White. Andre James was the latest player to commit to the Bruins at The Opening, doing so two years ago.

4. Will local five-star back up lofty ranking?

It's a deep year at defensive back, particularly out West, and Darnay Holmes has been pegged as the best of the bunch. With several elite receivers expected to participate, this week will serve as another platform to continue proving his worth. Holmes has the athleticism to cover anyone, the speed to keep up with shiftier slot-type receivers in open space and the physicality needed to be effective near the goal line. And will he get a look on offense? Holmes, who has stopped by UCLA a couple times recently, has two-way aspirations at the next level, and we've seen corners excel on offense in the 7-on-7 tournament in this event before.

5. What will the top overall player have to say?

The commitment to Alabama still stands, but Najee Harris continues to take visits and has known affinity for the Bruins. The five-star running back out of Antioch, Calif., earned a coveted spot at The Opening last year as a junior, further proof that he's on another level from a developmental standpoint. There are no questions about his athletic potential or what he brings to the football field, but what he says off it should be a major talking point this week. Have any other programs made a big enough dent on the Crimson Tide's hold that dates back to April of 2015?


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