By the end of the weekend there will be a newly crowned Nike Sparq champion and a new MVP of Nike's premier event 'The Opening.' Both of which are elite awards to earn.
In case you aren't aware, this week the Nike HQ in Beaverton, Oregon will feature 150 of the nation's elite football recruits. They will all test and push each other through the Sparq Training and then will break down and form 7-on-7 "super" squads to compete against one another afterwards.
Last year Alabama signee, safety Landon Collins swept honors at this event, and rightfully so. He boasted the top Sparq rating in the finals, and was a ball hawk in 7-on-7 play.
This year Alabama commit, Altee Tenpenny returns along with Derrick Henry to show well at the event. Last year these two performed as underclassmen and each finished in the top ten in Sparq testing. Can they repeat this year with another solid performance?
There are five expected commitments to be made during the event. More than likely those will air on live television which can be viewed on ESPNU, July 6-8 at 8PM EST.
Preview of the commitments
Alex Anzalone, LB, Wyomissing Area (Pa.) - The latest from Steve Wiltfong and Sean Fitz suggests Notre Dame and Penn State have locked horns for Anzalone. Florida remains in the mix, but expect him to announce for the Irish or Nittany Lions during the event.
Cameron Hunt, OT, Centennial (Calif.) - Hunt is down to Washington, ASU and Cal. The Sun Devils were considered the team to beat but Hunt recently visited Washington during the big commit day for the Huskies on Friday. Could go either way, but if I had to pick one, I'd bet ASU.
Ryan Jenkins, WR, Milton (Ga.) - Clemson and Oklahoma State are the finalists for Jenkins. By most accounts, Clemson is the team to beat by a fairly wide margin.
Josh McNeil, TE, Hillside (N.C.) - Another Georgia-Alabama battle for the nation's No. 8 tight end. Analysts Charles Power and Rusty Mansell say it's pretty tough to call between the two programs so this will be one to watch during the telecast.
Ra'Shaad Samples, WR, Skyline (Texas) - Recruiting analyst Taylor Hamm confirms Samples is very likely to commit to Texas A&M when his decision is made at The Opening. Texas Tech also remains in the mix.
Quick Rundown of the schedule(all times PST)
July 5 - There are no competition events on this day. Prospects will arrive and check in. There will be an opening ceremony, last year Tim Tebow was the guest speaker.
July 6 - 9-12 AM Sparq Testing
2-4 PM Nike Football Training Camp
5-6:30 PM Sparq Championship
July 7 - 12:30-6:30 PM Nike 7On Pool Play
10-12 PM Lineman Workout
July 8 - 9-6 PM Nike 7On Double Elimination Championship
10-12 PM Lineman Workout
4-5 PM Lineman Championship
Several schools well represented
Of the 150 recruits expected to be on hand, 56 have yet to make their verbal commitment anywhere. Nearly two-thirds of the group will have their shot at recruiting the uncommitted players to their respective program.
The SEC programs continue to dominate events with an impressive commit list on hand, however this time a Pac-12 program has the top spot. USC leads the way with 8 commits participating in the event.
Here's a quick snapshot of the top nine schools and the number of commits they will have on hand.
University of Southern California - 8
Florida - 7
Georgia - 7
Michigan - 7
Notre Dame - 6
Ohio State - 6
Alabama - 5
Florida State - 5
Texas - 5
Our analysts are hyped to see...
247Sports will be well-represented at this premier event to provide our readers with in-depth analysis, breaking news and great photo galleries. A few of the analysts offered their thoughts on who they are particularly excited to see for various reasons.
Keith Niebuhr - Austin Golson - "Two guys I'm excited to see are FSU commit Austin Golson and Alabama commit O.J. Howard. I saw Golson compete in the Spring and he did really well against average players but struggled against better competition. I'm eager to see his progress against elite competition."
O.J. Howard - "Howard is an absolute physical specimen. I'm curious to see how he stacks up against other players that are closer to his physical ability."
Justin Hopkins - Darren Carrington -"I'm looking forward to seeing Oregon commit Darren Carrington. Carrington had a solid performance at a recent 5-star challenge by most reports. Oregon feels they have one of the top play-makers in the country in Carrington.
Mike Mitchell - "Mitchell is exciting for two reasons. His athleticism has been highly touted and this will be a chance for him to showcase against elite talent. Secondly, he does few interviews and really hasn't provided a lot of insight to his recruitment. It will be nice to get some firm quotes on record from him."
Eddie Vanderdoes - "Vanderdoes was absolutely dominant at the Eugene NFTC. His skill set as a defensive lineman isn't as common out West as is often found in SEC country. This is a big stage for him to prove he belongs in elite company.
Jamie Oakes - Quin Blanding - "Coming off a monster performance at last weekend's NLA 7-on-7 National Championships, the 2014 Virginia Beach (Va.) Bayside five-star safety is eager to go against elite competition. One of the few underclassmen at The Opening, Blanding will have plenty of opportunities to impress."
Taquan Mizzell - "At each event he's attended this spring and summer, the Virginia Beach (Va.) Bayside running back has brought home hardware for his performances. Mizzell is looking to put on a show in Oregon this week to prove that even at four-stars, he's underrated by recruiting services."
Barton Simmons - Jalen Reeves-Maybin – "I think Reeves-Maybin may be one of the most underrated prospects in the country. He’s best with the pads on underneath the lights but this is an opportunity for him to prove me right in that assessment."
Eldridge Massington – "I’m really intrigued by Massington’s size, speed and athleticism and I’m anxious to see if he can put it together in this all-star setting and be a dominant receiving threat."
Colin Spencer – "One of the best combine guys in the country as far as testing numbers, I’m looking forward to seeing if the Kansas commit can keep up with this elite group in football drills and 1on1s."
Josh Newberg - Ira Denson - "Denson put his name on the map after pancaking UF commit Caleb Brantely a few times in 1on1's at the Nike Orlando Combine."
Ryan Green - "The FSU commit is one of the most explosive backs in the country. Plays in a small division of Florida high school football, will be interesting to see how he stacks up against some of the RB's from more traditional powerhouse high school programs."
Steve Wiltfong - Jaylon Smith - "The nation's top-ranked outside linebacker and Notre Dame commit has shined at every event he's attended this summer. This will be his biggest stage yet."
Laquon Treadwell - "After performing well at the IMG regional in Detroit and the recent B2G camp out in L.A., Treadwell is trending upward at the receiver position."
Charles Power - Da'Shawn Hand - "One of the biggest things that differentiates the Opening from other national summer camps is that the linemen compete in pads. As you would imagine, this paints a better picture than when the prospects are in shirts and shorts. How Da'Shawn Hand, who is ranked as the top 2014 prospect in the nation by 247Sports fares against the class of 2013's best should be one of the top story lines among the linemen. "
Altee Tenpenny - "Alabama commit Altee Tenpenny was a relative unknown prior to last year's event, but ended up with one of the better performances. Tenpenny missed all of his junior season with a nasty ankle injury that required surgery, so it will be interesting to see where his health stands with the 2012 season only a few months away."
Jeryl Brazil - "Loranger (La.) athlete and LSU commit Jeryl Brazil is probably the odds-on favorite to be the fastest man in Portland. Brazil is one of the nation's top sprinters, so everyone knows he's fast, but it will be his performance in position drills that will show if he's a track athlete playing football or a football prospect who happens to be fast."
Quarterbacks - "The Opening will be the first time that 247Sports' top four pro-style quarterbacks- Max Browne, Shane Morris, Christian Hackenberg, and Cooper Bateman - will be at the same event, so it will be interesting to see how they match up heading into the Elite11 later in July. "
What are your thoughts?
No matter which team you cheer for on Saturday's, most can agree this collection of talent rivals any group event in the nation. Who do you think will take home MVP honors? Who will be the best overall athlete and earn the Nike Sparq championship? Who will emerge from a talented crop of quarterbacks, lineman and skill players?
Weigh in your thoughts and more below in our free discussion of college fans from around the nation.
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