This year could very well be remembered as year of the linemen when it comes to local prep football.
Two offensive linemen from the Pensacola area have reached one of the most coveted goals for a prep football player — a golden ticket to Nike’s: The Opening 2016 football camp.
Hosted at Nike World Headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon, the prestigious camp invites the top 166 prep prospects in the nation for a few days of dynamic coaching, training and competition.
Washington’s Alex Leatherwood (Alabama commit) and Navarre’s Nick Brahms (34 offers, 14 coaching visits) are two of only 22 offensive linemen who made the cut by proving themselves at one of the 14 regional qualifying camps hosted by Nike.
Leatherwood (left tackle) and Brahms (right guard) are widely recognized as two of the top prospects in the state, as both fall in the Top 10 seniors list in Friday Night Football: Florida’s 2016 edition (Leatherwood No. 1, Brahms No. 6).
“This is definitely very special,” Brahms said. “It’s gonna be fun. I’m very excited to compete and meet new people.”
While quarterbacks and receivers began action at The Opening on July 5, linemen and all other positions begin competition on July 7, which will ultimately conclude July 10.
Brahms and Leatherwood traveled and roomed together, arriving Monday evening in Oregon (two days prior to competition).
Both Leatherwood and Brahms are rated as 4-star prospects according to rivals.com. Leatherwood is ranked as the No. 9 player in his position and No. 51 overall prospect nationally. Brahms is rated as the No. 30 prospect at his position. Both players are poised to gain even more notoriety this weekend against some of the defense defensive line prospects in the country.
Several recruiting sites are speculating that Leatherwood could rise to a 5-star prospect with another good showing this weekend.
“We’ve gotten a lot closer (since being invited to The Opening),” Brahms said. “We’ve started going to a lot of camps together, and talk about schools and offers. But really, we are just friends. It’s not all about football.
“(After the first day in Oregon), I woke up in the middle of the night … the time change has been an adjustment.(Oregon) is crazy. There are tons of mountains and rocks everywhere.”
Thursday, Brahms and Leatherwood (and the rest of The Opening invitees) will move to player housing and begin competition.
Offensive linemen will sharpen their skills against each other and will frequently battle with the nation’s top defensive linemen prospects.
The ultimate goal for the duo and all linemen at The Opening will be to reach the “Final Five”, where the five best offensive linemen take on the five best defensive linemen in a championship setting.
Adding to excitement of the event, Brahms and other prospects will issue verbal commitments on July 9 from Nike World Headquarters over a national broadcast. Brahms is keeping his commitment close to his chest, but said he’s excited about announcing his college choice on national television.
“Some people might think they know, they think they know … but I know,” Brahms said with a cliffhanging chuckle.
Nike: The Opening Camp 2016
•Where: Nike World Headquarters (Beaverton, Ore.).
•What: Nation’s top 166 prep football prospects in a three-day competition.
•Local representation: Offensive linemen Nick Brahms (Navarre) and Alex Leatherwood (Washington) are two of 22 offensive linemen to make the cut.
•Recent alumni from the Opening: Jalen Ramsey (NFL Draft 2016 top-5 pick), Ezekiel Elliot (NFL Draft 2016 top-5 pick) Derrick Henry (2015 Heisman Trophy winner), Leonard Fournette (LSU playmaker).