Owen Pappoe doesn’t have any immediate plans to enter any dunk contests in the near future, but when he checks in at The Opening Finals in Frisco, Texas on Saturday, Pappoe will be anxious to show off his hops.
“I jumped a 40 at the regional,” said Pappoe, a five-star linebacker who hails from Grayson (Loganville, Ga.). “But I’ve been working all summer. I think I’ll be able to get anywhere from 42-45 this time. I can’t wait to start the testing.”
Pappoe’s sentiments are shared by most of the elite players attending The Opening Finals who are eager to show off the proverbial fruits of their two-and three-a-day labor in preparation for the four-day event.
Players will undergo testing in everything from positional one-on-one drills to the 40-yard dash.
“I know that most of us have put in a lot of work to get ready for this,” Bishop Dunne (Dallas) safety Brian Williams said. “I think we all have different areas that we are focused on and we’re all really talented so the competition is gonna be pretty intense.”
St. John Bosco (Bellflower, Calif.) cornerback Chris Steele is counting on that.
His primary goal coming into The Opening Finals is to prove once and for all that he’s the No. 1 corner in the country.
Steele has already collected MVP hardware at The Opening regional and the Rivals Camp Series earlier in the spring.
“I’m just gonna go out there and do what I’ve been training so hard for,” Steele said. “I want to go head-up with the best receivers and do what I know I’m capable of. This isn’t new to me because whenever I play I’m always matched up against the best receiver and it’s almost always a high-profile guy. I was made for this.”
Williams can relate.
As the No. 1 safety in the country, he said he feels an obligation to remind everyone that his reputation as top dog is warranted.
“I want everyone to leave knowing why I’m ranked where I am,” said Williams, a Texas A&M commit. “You’ve gotta bring it out here. It’s the best of the best and, as a competitor, I wouldn’t want it any other way.”
Still, some players are less concerned with competing against their peers and more focused on competing against the clock.
Pappoe, an Auburn commit, is also focused on clocking a 4.3 second run in the 40.
A couple of months back he ran a 4.47 and a 4.49 at The Opening regional.
“I made a couple of mistakes just in leaning at the end and tripping up a little bit at the regional,” Pappoe said. “I just feel like if I can get my footing right and just run with the right form I can get that 4.3. This is the event that all of us have been waiting for; none of those rankings matter here. Now we’ve gotta earn it all over again. I’m ready.”
Follow Jason Jordan on Twitter: @JayJayUSATODAY