The Opening finals at Nike headquarters in Oregon is the buzz of the week in the college football world. Hundreds, if not thousands, of athletes compete in regionals all over the country in the months leading up, and the top performers are invited to Oregon to compete in the finals. It involves all positions, with offensive and defensive linemen, running backs and linebackers, and receivers and defensive backs all competing one on one . It concludes with a 7 on 7 tournament with compiled teams.
Notre Dame usually has a player or two involved in the camp, last year eventual commits CJ Holmes and Robert Hainsey were on hand, but Notre Dame is very well represented in 2017.
They have five commitments in attendance–Derrik Allen, Jayson Ademilola, Ovie Oghoufo, George Takacs, and Ja’mion Frankin–plus a litany of prospects including receiver Kevin Austin, linebacker Cam McGrone, receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown, receiver Chase Cota, linebacker Shayne Simon, defensive back Houston Griffith, and offensive lineman Jamaree Salyer.
We’ll be providing in depth updates on the performances of all the Notre Dame commits following the weekend.
Who Will Eventually End Up At Notre Dame?
Of the uncommitted players that are attending The Opening who Notre Dame is involved with, it’s most likely the Irish end up with Kevin Austin, Shayne Simon, and Cam McGrone. From everything that’s out there those three seem to be better than 80/20 to join the Notre Dame class. Adding those three would give the class eight players from the finals, which would be pretty remarkable given the teams troubles last season.
People have been talking about Simon and Austin being a part of the Notre Dame class for months, even leading to some speculation they are silent commits. The talk on Austin, who is a physical specimen, is a little less certain than it was maybe a month ago, but he’s still expected to join at some point. He’s been told by Irish coaches he’s their #1 prospect at receiver.
McGrone is a recent offer from Indianapolis who was not a favorite to make The Opening finals in the spring. He played his way into the event and has a chance to turn some heads. Notre Dame is considered the favorite over Michigan. If this wraps up quickly, Notre Dame looks good. The longer it goes, things could get a little dicey.
Big Opportunity For Jayson Ademilola And Ja’Mion Franklin
These are two commits who don’t get enough attention based on the position they play and how important it is for Notre Dame to be good on the defensive line. I think most fans think of them as quality bodies on the defensive line and not elite players. This week is an opportunity to challenge those perceptions, especially for Franklin.
Ademilola is the higher rated prospect and has been shooting up in ranking on many sites throughout the offseason. The luster of his commitment has fallen off a bit, he’s been committed for over a year, but a strong performance at this camp would solidify and perhaps even bolster his status as an elite defensive linemen in the 2018 class.
Franklin comes in with much less fanfare and a much bigger opportunity to make an impression. It wasn’t too long ago Franklin was a two-star player with a middling offer list. Now he’s been invited to compete against the nations best at the center of the college football recruiting world as a high three star player. Like Ademilola, a good performance at this event could send his already rapidly rising stock even higher.
Out of all the players Notre Dame is involved with performing this weekend, I’m tracking these two the most.
What About The Rest?
The two stars Notre Dame wants the most, and is most likely to get, out of this event are Amon-Ra St. Brown and Houston Griffith. We wrote a full piece on St. Brown early on Friday on where things are with him and what Notre Dame needs to do to land him. It seems this one will go down to wire so whoever is leading right now almost isn’t relevant. If you haven’t seen his highlights yet, I suggest you check them out. He is quite good.
Griffith has been an enigma lately. He’s visited Notre Dame a number of times, the number might be reaching double digits soon, and even though he attends IMG in Florida, he is a Chicago native. The visits combined with where he grew up led some to believe Notre Dame led for this player. However, given all the places he’s visited, and the word out of his camp about where he is or isn’t leaning, I think it’s fair to say there isn’t a true leader. I don’t want to say Notre Dame “needs” him, but he’s really good and lets just say he’s the type of player that lands at Ohio State, starts for two out of three years and is selected in the first round of the NFL draft.
As for Cota and Salyer, I’d put them in the category of “I doubt it”. Cota is heavily linked to Oregon and Salyer is a recent visitor who I only really give a chance because it’s the offensive line and sometimes Heistand just clicks with guys. But, getting the five star Georgia native out of the south seems like a really tough ask.