The Opening, a camp and competition featuring more than 150 of the country’s top football players in the high school class of 2014, has closed for another year. Next up on many of the players’ agendas are unofficial visits to colleges, more all-star events and a little rest before two-a-days begin in August.
Then, after one more season of high school football, many of the attendees will begin making an impact on college football. Here are observations from the event:
1. David Blough is a natural at taking charge
With his ever-present Purdue visor and the way he carried himself, quarterback David Blough (Carrollton, Texas/Creekview) easily could have been mistaken for a coach. He was the one urging teammates — sometimes forcefully — to be early for pregame warm-ups. He was the one directing them on how to line up for drills. Blough is frequently compared to Drew Brees because he’s a 6-0½ quarterback from Texas who is bound for Purdue, but his embrace of a leadership role is yet another common trait.
2. Cameron Robinson has a mean streak — on the field, that is.
Does 6-6, 320-pound Cam Robinson (West Monroe, La.), rated by Rivals.com as the top OL prospect in the class of 2014, really need any more assets as a player? Maybe not. But no lineman in 1-on-1 practices had a sneer like Robinson when blocking pass rushers. Coaches actually had to pull him aside and remind him that his physical denials of his opponents didn’t need to be accompanied by anything extra. Which is a little surprising considering Robinson comes across as a southern gentleman who finds key lime pie to be one of life’s greatest pleasures. “I don’t know what it is, I’m just a different person on the field,” Robinson explained.
3. When Lorenzo Carter wants to have some fun, he calls Les Miles.
Carter, an extremely engaging 6-5, 230-pound defensive end who ran a 4.54 40-yard dash on Monday, takes his time when he calls LSU’s head coach.
“When I talk to Coach Miles, it’s pretty funny,” said Carter, who is ranked as one of the nation’s top 10 players by multiple scouting services. “I have fun when I call him. He just talks about whatever. It’s not always about football. He just talks about whatever he feels like. (The length) depends on how deep we are into the conversation. He might bring something up about girls, and then that will be a long conversation. One time he wanted to talk about country music, and that was a short conversation.”
4. These are the 2013 “Elite 11”.
Camp coaches ranked the top 11 quarterbacks at this week’s event. Here’s how they voted:
1. Sean White (Fort Lauderdale/University); 2. Kyle Allen (Scottsdale, Ariz./Desert Mountain ); 3. Will Grier (Davidson, N.C./Davidson Day) 4. Jerrod Heard (Denton, Texas/Guyer); 5. Jacob Park (Goose Creek, S.C./Stratford); 6. David Blough (Carrollton, Texas/Creekview); 7. Drew Barker, (Hebron, Ky./Conner); 8. Luke Rubenzer (Scottsdale, Ariz./Saguaro); 9. Brad Kaaya (West Hills, Calif./Chaminade); 10. Deshaun Watson (Gainesville, Ga./ Gainesville); 11. K.J. Carta-Samuels (San Jose, Calif./Bellarmine Prep).
5. Toa Lobendahn has a philosophy — and a name — for the way he plays.
Lobendahn, an offensive lineman who has committed to USC, sounds like he might be describing the way of the ninja when he discusses his playing style.
“I try to be patient and aggressive,” he says. ” ‘Calm urgency’, my offensive line coach calls it.
“You don’t want to give the defensive line too much to work with, but then when they come into your attack zone, you gotta give them that aggressiveness. You gotta control them.”
6. Da’Shawn Hand wants to play in stadiums, then build them.
Da’Shawn Hand is choosing between Alabama, Florida and Michigan, schools whose stadiums seat a combined 300,270. And it’s possible one day Hand will design a stadium that large. The defensive lineman from Woodbridge (Va.) High School wants to work in stadium design, planning and finance. He said he recently earned an A for the year in his civil engineering and architectural design class, in which his class project was a design of an athletic fieldhouse. “I had two meeting rooms in it, a track in it, a basketball court, a pool, a training room, a weight room, two bathrooms , elevator, two floors, it was crazy,” he said.
Hand also said being ranked No. 1 on the Rivals 250 puts a target on his back. “It does, a lot,” he said. “But it’s fun. It doesn’t mean nothing. Everybody’s going to start over in college.”
8. Ainuu Taua has great leverage … and great hair.
Ainuu Taua (Lompoc, Calif./Lompoc) stands just 5-11½ but was the defensive line MVP in the 1-on-1 competition. Put another way, he maximizes his resources, which is one reason he has scholarship offers from Arizona, Cal, Mississippi, UCLA, Utah, Vanderbilt and Washington.
9. Sean White (Fort Lauderdale/University) was the lone uncommitted quarterback among the 18 who were invited to the event.
He was named the 7-on-7 tournament’s MVP.
10. This is the all-tournament team.
After many hundreds of plays were run and gallons of sweat were lost, these were the players voted to be the best all-around performers, in addition to White:
Budda Baker, athlete, Bellevue (Wash.)/Bellevue; Quin Blanding, safety, Virginia Beach, Va./Bayside; Dalvin Cook, running back, Miami/Central; Malachi Dupre, wide receiver, River Ridge, La./John Curtis; Will Grier, quarterback, Davidson, N.C./Davidson Day; Derwin James, safety, Auburndale, Fla./Auburndale; Ermon Lane, wide receiver, Homestead, Fla./Homestead; Henry Mondeaux, tight end, Portand, Ore./Jesuit; Adarius Pickett, cornerback, El Cerrito, Calif./El Cerrito; Austin Roberts, athlete, Carmel, Ind./Carmel.