FRISCO, Texas — Saturday was the first day of Nike’s The Opening football camp, which brings together the top high school football prospects. It was a light day, with only the quarterbacks, wide receivers, and tight ends working out, but we did learn a few things.
George Pickens and Theo Wease Jr. stood out as receivers
Pickens, a 6-4, 188-pound senior wide receiver from Hoover, Ala., will be a matchup nightmare for teams this season and in college. Last season, he had 46 catches for 735 yards and five touchdowns, including two TD catches to help the Bucs win the 7A state title.
He’s big and physical enough to get separation from defensive backs, but most notably, he has flypaper hands. Though he has committed to Auburn, he’s still planning on making official visits to other schools.
He also had a flashy one-handed grab in the end zone Saturday.
“That’s no suprise,” said Pinson Valley (Pinson, Ala.) quarterback Bo Nix, who is an Auburn commit. “I’ve seem him do that in games before.”
Wease had 57 catches for 879 yards and 14 touchdowns last season to help Allen win the state 6A-I title. At 6-3 and 200 pounds, he’s similar in size to Pickens and may be a step quicker. He committed to Oklahoma in April.
Taulia Tagovailoa not afraid of competing with his brother
Tagovailoa, a 5-11, 202-pound senior quarterback from Thompson, Ala., committed recently to Alabama, where he faces plenty of competition, not the least of it is his older brother Tua, who led the Crimson Tide in the national championship and will be a sophomore.
“It’s a blessing,” Taulia said. “Tua set the standard for me and other Hawaiian kids. It’s great to be compared to him. Being Tua’s brother has forced me to get better and makes me more competitive.”
The Tide also has junior Jalen Hurts, who, if he doesn’t transfer, will try to get the starting job back that he held up until the second half of the national championship. Alabama has another 2019 quarterback recruit in Hewitt-Trussville’s (Trussville, Ala.) Paul Tyson, who is Paul “Bear” Bryant’s great grandson.
“I really don’t see any downside in having my brother there,” Taulia said. “I’m going to push him from the start. I’m going to get him better and he’s going to get me better. I see it as a blessing to learn from him. Tua had it hard way because growing up, he didn’t have anybody to look up to (as a quarterback) except Marcus (Mariota) and Marcus is way older than him. For me, I am in Tua’s generation and everything he does I can see and take the good from it.”
Orange (Lutheran) looking good this season
Two of the most impressive athletes Saturday were Orange Lutheran (Orange, Calif.) quarterback Ryan Hilinski, a South Carolina commit, and wide receiver Kyle Ford. Hilinski was as polished as any quarterback and his throws came out live. Hilinski completed 294 of 412 passes last season for 3,749 yards and 33 touchdowns and only six interceptions.
Ford, an undecided senior-to-be, also had a strong junior season with 91 catches for 1,468 yards and 13 touchdowns. At 6-3 and 209 pounds, he looks like a tight end, but runs routes like a wide receiver.
With that combination, OLU should be very strong this year, but it will still be hard making it past Trinity League powers Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.), which won the state title last season and St. John Bosco (Bellflower), which won the title the season before.
Arizona, LSU and Georgia may be in the lead for Trey Palmer
Palmer, a speedy 6-1 wide receiver from Kentwood, La., said he plans to announce his top five schools possibly on July 4. For now though, he said three schools that are likely to make the list are Arizona, LSU and Georgia, all of which he visited last month.
“The (Arizona) visit was crazy,” Palmer said. “I like Coach Hearns. He was a cool coach. LSU is the home school and I like their offense and how they run their routes.”
Palmer, who is also a standout track athlete and baseball player at Kentwood, made the first-team 1A All-State football team last season.
“With baseball and track going on this spring, it feels nice now to be able to chill a bit,” he said. “I’m just out here to work on my craft. Plus, we get swag every day.”
Stability the key for Auburn commit Bo Nix
Nix is considered a dual-threat quarterback, but he really showed off his arm Saturday with a quick and accurate release. Last season, he led Pinson Valley (Pinson, Ala.) to a 15-0 record and a 5A state title while completing 196-of-307 passes for 2,872 yards and 35 touchdowns. The Auburn commit is coached by his father, former Auburn quarterback Patrick Nix.
“I’m used to going through progressions because my dad is my coach and we have a lot of college routes and NFL-based routes in our offense,” Nix said. “It’s extremely comfortable always having the same coach. A lot of times quarterbacks struggle when they have different coordinators. He’ll even let me give an opinion and usually he does a good job of allowing me to be that type of quarterback.”