Ranking Top 25 College Football Recruits After Nike's The Opening

By (Senior Analyst) on July 8, 2013

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Via 247Sports

There are a few times every recruiting cycle when it's good to take a moment to re-examine the rankings of the best recruits in college football.

Nike's The Opening is the premier camp in the world of college football recruiting, so soon thereafter becomes one of those logical re-evaluation times.

It's important to remember that one camp doesn't tell the whole story. That said, certain recruits did stand out enough to earn themselves a top-25 ranking.

Others were good enough beforehand to remain in the top 25, despite not doing much, or anything, at The Opening.

Here are Bleacher Report's 2014 top 25 college football recruits at this juncture.

Just like everything in recruiting, these rankings can and will change.

 

Note: Star rankings courtesy of the 247Sports composite rankings. All scouting and analysis done by writer, via tape study of film provided on each recruit's respective 247Sports profile page. "The Opening Dream Team" article by Barton Simmons of 247Sports is also referenced multiple times throughout these rankings.

25. Elijah Hood, 4-Star ATH, Charlotte Catholic High School (N.C.) *Notre Dame

Elijah Hood showed off his athleticism and versatility at The Opening, especially in the 7-on-7 portion of the camp.

Running backs have to be consistent and reliable as check-down receivers in 7-on-7 drills in order to stand out in this kind of camp setting, and Hood did that and more.

He displayed speed and agility out of the backfield. He also was able to use his hands to help out his team as a receiver.

Combine that with his 222-pound frame and his explosive running style, and there's a lot to like about the Notre Dame commitment. 

 

*The Opening Standout

24. Speedy Noil, 4-Star WR, Edna Karr High School (La.)

Speedy Noil lived up to his nickname at The Opening, and that earned him a spot in the top 25. Consider that he's ranked No. 51 by the 247Sports Composite Rankings, and that goes to show you the impressive nature of his performance.

In fact, here's what Barton Simmons of 247Sports.com had to say about Noil at The Opening:

Ask any defender who was the toughest matchup of the event and Noil was a very popular answer. Any team is well-served to have a dynamic slot receiver that can be a big-play threat in space and out-maneuver nickels and linebackers in the middle of the field.

Noil is only 5'10.5", 176 pounds, but he runs a 4.4 40, according to 247Sports.

LSU and Texas A&M lead his 247Sports interest list

*The Opening Standout

23. Malachi Dupre, 5-Star WR, John Curtis Christian High School (La.)

At 6'2.5", 187 pounds, running a 4.58 40 (247Sports), Malachi Dupre has just enough size and speed to be quite a mismatch at the college level.

He's athletic, lanky and will be a natural deep threat. He can "high-point" the ball over smaller cornerbacks, and he's a good route runner.

Dupre has unlimited potential, according to Simmons' report on The Opening:

Among all the wide receivers at the event, there may not be another that possesses a higher ceiling than Dupre. The big wide receiver with springy legs was a big play waiting to happen and showed an outstanding skill set despite limited passes being thrown his way in a run-heavy high school offense.

LSU and UCLA are on top of Dupre's 247Sports interest list, followed by Alabama, Clemson, Florida State, Notre Dame and Texas A&M.

22. Budda Baker, 4-Star ATH, Bellevue High School (Wash.)

Barton Simmons of 247Sports had some high praise for Budda Baker's play at The Opening:

Whether he was at wide receiver, rattling off some of the week’s biggest plays downfield or at safety, covering impossible ground to break up completions that looked like no doubt big plays, Baker was a game-breaker all week long.

Baker can line up at safety, wide receiver, running back or as a kick returner at the college level, so he truly defines the athlete ranking. He's 5'10", 175 pounds and runs a 4.51 40, according to 247Sports.

He has speed, elusiveness and the ability to simply make plays as a receiver. As a defender, Baker is aggressive and will be able to cover a ton of ground.

Oregon, UCLA and Washington top his 247Sports interest list

*The Opening Standout

21. Hoza Scott, 5-Star OLB, La Porte High School (Texas.) *Texas A&M

Hoza Scott is an exceptionally athletic outside linebacker recruit who will be physical enough to set the edge as a "spill defender," but he can also make plays in the open field.

He has sideline-to-sideline speed and can also be effective in coverage.

He'll also be a dynamic pass-rusher because of his speed and physicality.

20. Joseph Yearby, 5-Star RB, Miami Central High School (Fla.) *Miami (FL)

Joseph Yearby has the potential to be yet another star running back for the Miami Hurricanes.

He's elusive and shifty, so he'll be able to make a ton of plays at the college level. He doesn't have elite college football speed, but he's still fast enough to outrun defenders to the second level and make them miss.

Yearby has quick feet, good vision and can lower his shoulder and pick up yards after the catch.

19. Damian Prince, 5-Star OT, Bishop McNamara High School (Md.)

At 6'6", 300 pounds, it's not hard to see why Damian Prince is a top-25 college football recruit.

He has the size to be an elite left tackle, but he also plays with relative quickness and agility. Prince is strong at the point of attack and plays with low pad level and leverage. He's a fundamental blocker with a strong base and good footwork.

Alabama, Florida State, Maryland, Ohio State, Rutgers, South Carolina and Tennessee are on top of his 247Sports interest list.

18. Sony Michel, 5-Star RB, American Heritage High School (Fla.) *Georgia

Sony Michel is the real deal. He's 5'11", 205 pounds, so he has the size to run between the tackles and be a physical back.

That said, he also runs a 4.5 40 and has elite footwork and elusiveness.

Michel can make a defender miss, run over a defender or simply outrun the defender to open space.

He's a highlight-reel type of runner.

17. Dalvin Cook, 5-Star RB, Miami Central High School (Fla.) *Florida

At 5'11", 190 pounds with 4.46 speed in the 40, according to 247Sports, Dalvin Cook looks like he could become a great "scatback."

He displayed his skills as a pass-catcher at The Opening, which only reinforces that projection.

Cook is fast, shifty and has the ability to be a devastating runner in the open field. He'll be able to stretch a play to the outside and beat defenders to the edge, and as he showed at The Opening, he'll be an option out of the backfield as well.

*The Opening Standout

16. Jalen Hurd, 5-Star RB, Beech Senior High School (Tenn.) *Tennessee

Jalen Hurd has the size of a linebacker and the speed of a top-notch running back.

He's 6'3", 220 pounds, so he'll be able to hold his own running between the tackles. He's a lot of running back to bring down, especially considering the force he runs with and his ability to lower his shoulder and pick up extra yards.

Hurd can also be a pure speed back, though, and he's surprisingly agile and elusive.

If he remains committed, he has the potential to be a superstar running back for Tennessee.

15. Bo Scarbrough, 5-Star ATH, Tuscaloosa County High School (Ala.) *Alabama

Bo Scarbrough is much like Hurd, He has tremendous size and good speed. He's 6'2", 225 pounds and could play outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme.

He also has great straight-line speed, good elusiveness and is a powerful runner.

Scarbrough could play running back or outside linebacker, and he could be a star at either position at the college level.

14. Ermon Lane, 5-Star WR, Homestead Senior High School (Fla.)

Ermon Lane's play at The Opening affirmed the fact that he's the best receiver in the 2014 recruiting class. 

He has the size you look for at 6'3", 193 pounds and runs a 4.52 40, according to 247Sports. He has the ability to separate himself, is athletic and has good hands and great body control. 

Here's what Barton Simmons had to say about Lane:

Big and powerful, Lane turned in a dominant performance on Wednesday. He’s got deceptive speed, strong hands and the ability to finish against good coverage. Quarterbacks have a large margin for error throwing at Lane because he has such a unique size-speed ratio.

He has the potential to be a special player at the college level.

According to his 247Sports interest list, Alabama, Florida and Miami are his top three.

*The Opening Standout

13. Kyle Allen 4-Star PRO-QB, Desert Mountain High School (Ariz.) *Texas A&M

Because of his play at The Opening, Kyle Allen jumped ahead of several quarterbacks, including Alabama commit David Cornwell and 5-star Keller Chryst.

Specifically, Allen impressed at the Elite 11. He finished ranked No. 2, behind only breakthrough quarterback Sean White.

Allen, who has been praised for his accuracy, has a good arm and can be athletic. He has a cool pocket presence and can hit just about any throw asked of him.

He has the potential to be a more than suitable replacement for Johnny Manziel.

*The Opening Standout

12. Raekwon McMillan, 5-Star ILB, Liberty County High School (Ga.)

Raekwon McMillan has size, speed and physicality that will translate to big-time college football.

He's 6'2", 242 pounds, so he'll be able to play strong between the A-gaps, but he also runs a 4.79 40, according to 247Sports. While that's not exceptional speed, he's fast enough to get outside of the tackle box and make plays on the edges.

McMillan is aggressive and will get downhill fast to plug a lane. He can drop back into coverage and also make plays in the middle zone.

Ohio State is the top team on his 247Sports interest list, followed by Alabama, Clemson and USC. 

11. Solomon Thomas, 5-Star SDE, Coppell High School (Texas)

Solomon Thomas has the size, explosiveness and technique to be the best defensive end in this class.

He gets out of his stance quickly, plays with good leverage and will be able to overpower blockers, even at the college level.

He's big and strong enough to set the edge as a run defender, but he can also work inside, blow up the line of scrimmage and make plays on inside runs. He has enough speed to be a great pass-rusher as well, and his ability to violently use his hands will set him apart.

Thomas will be a complete defensive end in college.

Alabama, Arkansas, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Stanford, Texas, Texas A&M, UCLA and USC all top his 247Sports interest list

*The Opening Standout

10. Marlon Humphrey, 5-Star CB, Hoover High School (Ala.)

Marlon Humphrey projects to be a playmaker.

He plays with good length and physicality, so he should be able to play strong at the line of scrimmage, but also be disruptive as a pass-defender.

His speed will allow him to turn and run with receivers, and he'll make plays with his athleticism and length.

Humphrey is also a great run defender, so he can be an every-down cornerback.

Alabama is the leader on his 247Sports interest list.

9. Tony Brown, 5-Star CB, Ozen High School (Texas)

Tony Brown is an explosive defensive back who has good size and elite athleticism.

He can turn and run with receivers and stick with them step for step because of his 4.35 40 speed (247Sports), and he's athletic enough to make a play on the ball.

Brown covers a ton of ground and can really read an offense.

Barton Simmons talked about Brown in his report:

Brown was tested at times and on Tuesday he even got beat for big plays but he showed a competitive demeanor that saw him battle back and respond with big plays. No prospect showed the kind of make-up speed on skill players and closing speed on passes in the air than Brown. On multiple occasions he looked beat only to accelerate to break up a pass or make a stop.

That's what you want to hear about a cornerback. He'll win some and he'll lose some, but he'll always be competitive enough to make plays.

LSU tops his 247Sports interest list, followed by Alabama, Florida State, Ohio State, Texas and Texas A&M. 

*The Opening Standout

8. Quin Blanding, 5-Star S, Bayside High School (Va.) *Virginia

Quin Blanding is everything that you look for in a safety recruit. He has the size at 6'2", 200 pounds, but he also runs a 4.5 40, according to 247Sports.

He's big enough to come down into the box and be that extra defender against the run, but he can also be a deep zone coverage guy, and he'll track down some errant, overthrown footballs.

Blanding was another recruit who stood out at The Opening, according to Simmons:

A five-star reputation emerged from The Opening intact as Blanding’s big frame was all over the football field, collecting interceptions and generally making himself felt by offensive coordinators and quarterbacks. As a big-bodied safety, you wouldn’t expect Blanding to affect the passing game as actively as he does, but he is absolutely a player that you must find pre-snap.

He also comes across as a very cerebral defender who knows how to read an offense, so he has superstar potential.

*The Opening Standout

7. Adoree' Jackson, 5-Star CB, Junipero Serra High School (Calif.)

Adoree' Jackson solidified himself as the best cornerback recruit in the nation. Here's what Simmons had to say about his play at The Opening:

It’s not hard to find Jackson on the field as he usually finds the football if it’s thrown in his vicinity. Jackson truly locked down his side of the field for the majority of the event and when tested, he made quarterbacks pay with interceptions to the end zone the other way.

He has the speed to turn and run with any receiver at the college level, and he's athletic enough to make a play on the ball.

He's only 182 pounds, but he can play a physical brand of football, so he's a complete cornerback recruit. Florida and USC are on top of Jackson's 247Sports interest list.

*The Opening Standout

6. Lorenzo Carter, 5-Star WDE, Norcross High School (Ga.)

Lorenzo Carter is a versatile defensive end recruit who could probably also play outside linebacker because of his speed and athleticism.

He's 6'5", 232 pounds, so he has the size to play physical against the run and hold his own at the line of scrimmage, but he also runs a 4.63 40, according to 247Sports.

Carter will be able to set the edge and be dominant in open space outside of the tackle boxes. He'll be a tremendous pass-rusher because of his size-speed combo, and he could even drop back into coverage.

Alabama is on top of his 247Sports interest list, but Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Mississippi State, Notre Dame, South Carolina, USC and Vanderbilt are also featured.

5. Andrew Brown, 5-Star DT, Oscar Frommel Smith High School (Va.) *Virginia

Andrew Brown may not be the biggest defensive tackle at 6'4", 282 pounds, but he certainly has the most potential.

Brown can be elite because of his fundamentals and ability to play explosive football. He shoots out of his stance and uses his hands to disengage and get into the backfield.

He can play strong against the run, but he'll also be a great pass-rusher because of his speed, quickness and aggression.

He'll be able to rush the quarterback at a high level, as well as chase down running plays from the weak side.

4. Da'Shawn Hand, 5-Star SDE, Woodbridge High School (Va.)

Speed is the name of the game for Da'Shawn Hand.

He's not the biggest or the strongest at 6'4", 254 pounds, but he's explosive out of his stance and can turn the corner and get after the quarterback.

He projects to be a great edge rusher, but he's deceptively strong and will make plays against the run as well.

Michigan, Alabama and Florida are all in the running for his commitment, per his 247Sports interest list

3. Cameron Robinson, 5-Star OT, West Monroe High School (La.)

Cameron Robinson was the most dominant offensive tackle at The Opening, which solidified his spot as the No. 1 offensive tackle in these rankings.

Saying that he's big at 6'5", 330 pounds would be an understatement. He has elite size and should be able to hold his own against any defender at the college level.

That said, he has quick feet as well, so he'll be a good pass-blocker, and he'll get out to the second level as a run-blocker.

He's the complete package as an offensive tackle recruit.

Alabama and LSU rank atop his 247Sports interest list.

*The Opening Standout

2. Jabrill Peppers, 5-Star ATH, Paramus Catholic High (N.J.) *Michigan

Jabrill Peppers is an elite cornerback recruit in the body of an elite running back recruit.

He's 6'1", 205 pounds and plays an extremely aggressive and physical brand of football. He's a fast runner (4.4 40 according to 247Sports), and he's ultra-athletic. He could very well be ranked as a running back.

That said, Peppers is a standout cornerback who will be able to jam receivers, turn and stick with them step for step. He'll be able to go up and make plays on the ball, and he'll also be a dominant run defender.

He's ranked as an athlete, but he should end up at corner.

Either way, he's the second-best recruit in the nation.

1. Leonard Fournette, 5-Star RB, St. Augustine High School (La.)

Leonard Fournette is the type of running back recruit who only comes around once in a while.

He's receiving comparisons to Adrian Peterson, and as lofty as those comparisons are, he deserves them.

At 6'0.5", 225 pounds, he projects to be a power runner who will lower his shoulder, churn his legs and pick up tough yards.

He's also very fast and elusive, so he can beat defenders to the edge and make them miss.

Fournette may run a defender over one play and then juke out a whole defense the next. On the third play, he'll take a flare pass out of the backfield for six.

He's the best running back recruit in a long while, hands down.

Alabama and LSU are the top teams on his 247Sports interest list.

 

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