BEAVERTON, Ore. — What we learned Monday at Nike’s The Opening:
Justin Fields has a nice arm for a “dual-threat” quarterback. Fields, who will be a senior this year at Harrison (Kennesaw, Ga.) threw four touchdown passes to lead Mach Speed to a 31-15 defeat of Vapor Speed in The Opening’s 7-on-7 championship.
Fields, listed as the No. 3 player overall and No. 1 dual-threat QB by 247Sports.com’s composite rankings, said he got comfortable on Sunday and that carried over on Monday.
“Really yesterday, in the game against (Savage Pro),” Fields said. “That’s when I got the hot hand and it kept going today. I feel like I can throw as good as anyone in the country. My legs just give me an extra attribute.”
Fields, who decommitted from Penn State this past winter. has said he’s interested in interested in Auburn, Georgia, Florida State and Florida, and to a lesser degree, Ole Miss, Alabama and North Carolina. He has a visit planned to Auburn on July 13 and Georgia on July 16.
“Those are the two closest schools so I can make the trip pretty easily,” Fields said. “I’ll make the decision pretty much when I know the time is right.”
Top DL Xavier Thomas lived up to his hype. Thomas, a defensive end from IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.) and a Clemson commit, won the defensive MVP at the event’s lineman competition:
“The toughest thing about it is the pressure I have around me,” Thomas said. “I have high expectations around me because I’m highly ranked. If I don’t perform to expectations, there will be a lot of critics. I try to take it all in because I like the attention.”
Thomas said he expected players to want to take shots at him.
“I don’t blame them,” he said. “If I was going against the top-rated recruit, I would go hard because I would want my name up there.”
Thomas played in last year’s The Opening when he was a junior at Wilson (Florence, S.C.).
“I’m very experienced,” Thomas said. “Last year, I was nervous even though I won a lot of one-on-ones. This year I expected it and that’s why I came out here and dominated it.”
OL’s Carman and Salyer had a lot of pancake blocks. Jackson Carman is a 6-6, 330-pound offensive lineman from Fairfield, Ohio, said he will commit July 21 to Ohio State, Clemson or Southern Cal. Carman and Pace Academy (Atlanta) offensive lineman Jamaree Salyer, who is 6-4 and 342 pounds, were the top offensive linemen in the linemen challenge for what that’s worth. Salyer actually won the award but Carman was a close second.
“It’s not at all close to real football,” Carman said. “There are a lot of disadvantages. The defensive linemen don’t have to read any keys, they’re not dropping off in coverage, there isn’t any slide protection with the offensive line. Plus, they come off the ball harder than they usually would because things like snap count and down and distance aren’t in the mix. It’s for the fans.”
Salyer was also one of the payers here who was in last season’s The Opening.
“I just had a lot of fun,” Salyer said. “I wanted to see how this D line compares to last year. I got a lot better, a lot more patience with myself.”
Salyer said defensive linemen Taron Vincent and Jayson Ademilola gave him the toughest competition here.
“Coming out of the gate on Day 1, opening up with Taron was very explosive,” Salyer said. “I hadn’t taken a pass in a while and he was very explosive. Also, Jayson Ademilola is very strong and explosive. Both of those guys will be great on the next level.”
Salyer said he’s looking forward to visiting Notre Dame when the Irish play Georgia, another one of his top teams, along with Clemson and Alabama.
Greg Emerson turned a bad week to a good one. A day after dislocating his ankle and breaking his left tibia during linemen drills, North Side (Jackson, Tenn.), defensive lineman Greg Emerson committed to Tennessee on the NFL Network, which was filming the 7-on-7 competition.
Emerson, who attended the closing ceremonies with his leg in a cast, said he had already planned to commit this weekend and just followed through. He said he plans to enroll early, next winter, and the Tennessee coaches had already texted him saying they were fired up about his commitment.
Emerson had planned to commit in December and then enroll early, but changed his mind. He had announced a final six a month ago of Tennessee, Ohio State, Oregon, Alabama, Ole Miss and Clemson.
He was the second player here Monday to commit on TV with Green Hope (Cary, N.C.) wide receiver Jordyn Adams announcing on the NFL Network that he was choosing North Carolina over Clemson. Adams’ signing wasn’t a huge surprise as his father, Deke, was hired as the Tar Heels’ defensive line coach in January.