The Opening 2014 and Elite 11: Which of the nation's top recruits shined?
One of the biggest events on the recruiting calendar wraps up this weekend at the Nike Headquarters in Beaverton, Ore. The facility hosted the finals for the prestigious Elite 11 quarterback competition and The Opening, a showcase for 162 prized prospects across the country. Below is a compilation of highlights and noteworthy developments from the week’s proceedings.
Blake Barnett was named the Elite 11's Most Valuable Player after helping his squad, Team Apocalypse, win the 7-on-7 championship. Barnett passed for 2,322 yards with 22 touchdowns last season at Santiago (Calif.) High.
Alabama commit Blake Barnett named Elite 11 MVP. Totally deserved. He lit it up from the start and never stopped.— Paul Myerberg (@PaulMyerberg) July 11, 2014
The Final Elite 11 rankings were released late on Thursday night.
Wide receiver Calvin Ridley, who also played on Team Apocalypse, was named MVP of The Opening. Ridley, the second-rated wideout prospect in the country, according to Rivals.com, made a ridiculous one-handed grab on a pass thrown by Oregon pledge Travis Waller.
Barnett and Ridley are both committed to Alabama. They already appear to have developed some chemistry. The Crimson Tide were well represented in Beaverton, with 10 committed players in attendance.
Over the course of the camp, college and NFL players gave instruction to up-and-coming recruits. A video of reigning Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Jameis Winston welcomed Elite 11 participants, and Cleveland Browns first-round pick Johnny Manziel was pictured monitoring Missouri commit Drew Lock. Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman and Arizona Cardinals safety Tyrann Mathieu were among other high-profile attendees.
Meanwhile, touted offensive and defensive linemen squared off in a number of challenges. Unlike similar drills at other camps, participants donned helmets and shoulder pads. Four-star offensive tackle Martez Ivey was tossed to the ground in this exchange, but he earned offensive line MVP honors. Four-star defensive tackle Kahlil McKenzie (more on him below) was named defensive line MVP.
The complete All-Offense and All-Defense teams:
All-Offense Team: WR Trent Irwin, WR RayRay McCloud, ATH Donte Jackson, WR Calvin Ridley, WR Christian Kirk TE Jackson Harris RB Soso Jamabo— Brandon Huffman (@BrandonHuffman) July 11, 2014
More All-Offense: QB Travis Waller, QB Ricky Town, QB Blake Barnett @TheOpening2014— Brandon Huffman (@BrandonHuffman) July 11, 2014
All-Defense Team: DB Tavaris McFadden, LB Roquan Smith, DB Derwin James, DB Holton Hill, LB Josh Smith, DB Kevin Toliver, DB Justin Dunning— Brandon Huffman (@BrandonHuffman) July 11, 2014
Four-star receiver and all-purpose back Kirk Merrit beat out top-ranked weakside defensive end Josh Sweat in the Nike SPARQ National Championship, a series of physical tests designed to determine the best athletes in the country. Merritt, an Alabama commit, ran a 4.46 40-yard dash and recorded a 43-inch vertical leap in the finals. Sweat also ran a 4.46 40.
Perhaps the biggest news of the week came when McKenzie, a freakishly strong four-star defensive tackle, announced his commitment to Tennessee. Four-star running back Jordan Scarlett gave his pledge to Miami, and the Hurricanes also landed heralded 2016 wideout Sam Bruce (who was not in Beaverton this week). Other notable commitments included four-star offensive lineman Andre James declaring for UCLA and three-star athlete A.J. Turner pledging to South Carolina.