The Opening 2014: 10 Sleeper Recruits to Watch in Beaverton

Edwin WeathersbyAnalyst IJune 30, 2014

The Opening 2014: 10 Sleeper Recruits to Watch in Beaverton

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    The Opening, which now in its fourth year has grown into one of the country's top high school football events, is set to take place July 5-10 at Nike World Headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon. It will be an intense week, and the pool of 162 players is filled with elite prospects and several sleeper recruits.

    The stars will come into the event commanding all of the attention, but a few unknown commodities have a chance to steal the show. Some 3-star quarterbacks will have a platform to outshine several stud passers, while a 3-star offensive lineman could show he deserves to be ranked higher after a good performance.

    Plus, an undersized defensive back is capable of holding his own versus some of the nation's top receivers.

3-Star ATH Tyler Phillips

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    Recruitment Status: Uncommitted 

    Tyler Phillips lacks an offer, but he has taken an unofficial visit to Air Force. The Arkansas native also has camped at Ohio State and Arkansas


    What To Watch For

    At 6'1.5" and 208 pounds, Phillips is a great athlete who'll likely work as a safety. What got him an invite to Beaverton, however, was his SPARQ Rating of 141.36. Per Student Sports, that mark is the highest of any recruit this year. Look for him to put on a show in the short-shuttle drill and vertical jump, as well as the power ball.

    A Team Apocalypse member, Phillips is on the same squad as 4-star defensive backs such as Frank Buncom IVMark Fields and Jaylon Lane.

3-Star WR/TE Auden Tate

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    Recruitment Status: Uncommitted

    Florida, Florida State, Michigan and South Carolina are the top schools interested in Auden Tate.


    What To Watch For

    A 3-star pass-catcher, Tate is slated to work with the tight ends at The Opening. The Tampa native is 6'4", and he appears to be a bit over the 200-pound mark. His deceptive quickness, great hands and ability to pin defenders outside of passing lanes all make him a candidate to blow up at the event.

    The 319th recruit in the 247Sports Composite Rankings is on Team Mach Speed, which is the same team as 5-star receiver Preston Williams and 4-star receiver Jovon Durante.

3-Star DB/ATH Stephen Johnson

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    Recruitment Status: Uncommitted

    Oregon leads schools such as Arizona State, California and Duke. 


    What To Watch For

    Stephen Johnson plays quarterback for San Leandro High School in California, but he'll be in the secondary at The Opening. The 3-star prospect has been timed at 4.41 in the 40-yard dash, as well as 4.18 in the short-shuttle drill, per Student Sports.

    He will be joined on Team Fly Rush by 5-star defensive back Kendall Sheffield and 4-star defensive back Kendrell McFadden. Look for Johnson, who is 5'11" and 180 pounds, to dazzle observers with his elite athleticism and potential as a cornerback.

3-Star QB Ross Bowers

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    Recruitment Status: Uncommitted

    California and Colorado State are out in front.


    What To Watch For

    Ross Bowers is a gritty 3-star quarterback from Washington who won the QB MVP at the Oregon Nike Football Training Camp. His performance there got him an invite to The Opening, and the 6'2", 185-pound pocket passer will be looking to display his natural ball-distribution skills at the Elite 11 Finals.

    Quarterbacks will not be assigned teams until July 7; however, Bowers will be competing with the likes of 5-star studs such as Josh Rosen and Kyler Murray.

3-Star LB Chad Smith

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    Recruitment Status: Committed to Clemson

    Chad Smith committed to Clemson in April.


    What To Watch For

    Clemson fans will come to love Smith. Not many linebackers have the type of athleticism he has, evidenced by his 124.92 SPARQ Rating at the Washington, D.C. Nike Football Training Camp. Smith is No. 349 in the 247Sports Composite Rankings, but he could see a bump up with a great performance at The Opening.

    The 6'3", 200-pounder has been timed at 4.09 in the short-shuttle drill, plus he has a 41.9-inch vertical jump. Smith will be joined on the Land Sharks by 5-star linebacker Justin Hilliard and 4-star linebacker Sherrod Pittman

3-Star WR Lawrence Cager

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    Recruitment Status: Uncommitted

    Maryland, Rutgers, North Carolina and Ohio State are the favorites.


    What To Watch For

    There's a good chance Lawrence Cager would not be on this list if he would have played in more games as a junior. The Maryland native missed most of last season with a concussion, according to Student Sports.

    However, at 6'5" and 210 pounds, Cager displayed great ball skills and solid speed at the New Jersey Nike Football Camp. His size and length should afford him the chance to make a few plays on Team Fly Rush.

    At the receiver position, Team Fly Rush will also feature 5-star recruit Terry Godwin, plus 4-star receivers Trent Irwin and Van Jefferson.

3-Star OL Dru Samia

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    Recruitment Status: Uncommitted

    UCLA, Texas Tech and Oregon State are among Dru Samia's offers.


    What To Watch For

    If there's one player who is looking to use The Opening to provide a jolt to his recruitment, it's Samia. The 3-star blocker is No. 723 in the 247Sports Composite Rankings, and he'll have a chip on his shoulder in Beaverton.

    While his ranking is low, what got Samia to The Opening was his performance at the Oakland Nike Football Training Camp. The California native took home the OL MVP, and he doesn't figure to rest on his laurels from that event.

    The 6'5", 296-pounder will be with 4-star offensive linemen Quarvez Boulware and Tristen Hoge on Team Mach Speed.

3-Star QB Ryan Brand

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    Recruitment Status: Uncommitted

    Air Force and Indiana State have offered. 


    What To Watch For

    Ryan Brand is No. 1,554 in the 247Sports Composite Rankings, which means he may be the sleepiest sleeper at The Opening. He was nearly obsessed with earning an Elite 11 invitation, as he worked out at regional events in Chicago, Washington, D.C. and Columbus, per Student Sports

    At 5'10" and 192 pounds, the Detroit native lacks ideal size for his position. However, he is an above-average athlete who is dangerous when throwing on the run. 

    Brand will be looking to match wits with other dual-threat quarterbacks such as 5-star prospect Torrance Gibson and 4-star recruits Brandon Wimbush and Blake Barnett.

3-Star CB Duke Shelley

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    Recruitment Status: Uncommitted

    Clemson, Tennessee and Wisconsin are standing out as favorites.


    What To Watch For 

    Listed as a cornerback, Duke Shelley is undersized at 5'8" and 165 pounds. However, he has remarkable athleticism, heart, toughness and quickness in coverage. Shelley also has value as a returner, as Student Sports says he totaled six return touchdowns as a junior.

    The Georgia native should excel in all of the speed and agility testing drills.

    Shelley, who is No. 377 in the 247Sports Composite Rankings, is on Team Vapor Carbon for The Opening. His teammates will include 4-star defensive backs DeChaun Holiday and Isaiah Langley.

3-Star QB Sam Darnold

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    Recruitment Status: Uncommitted

    USC, Tennessee and Oregon are among Sam Darnold's offers.


    What To Watch For

    An ankle injury as a junior seems to be what caused Darnold to not be on many recruiting radars. However, he has since gotten healthy and lit up workouts this spring, namely the Elite 11 Regional in Oakland.

    Darnold, who is 6'4" and 208 pounds, is from California. He's a dual-threat quarterback who is coming into The Opening with a lot of momentum. Look for him to be frequently compared with 4-star dual-threat quarterbacks such as Deondre Francois and Blake Barnett throughout the event.

    Regarding his Elite 11 Finals invitation, on May 17, Darnold told Justin Hopkins of 247Sports, “It was unexpected coming in because I missed all of last year."


    Recruit rankings and schools of interest are according to 247Sports unless otherwise noted. Player evaluations are based on review of tape at Scout.comRivals and 247Sports. Edwin Weathersby is the College Football Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. He has worked in scouting/player personnel departments for three professional football teams, including the New York Giants and Cleveland Browns.