BEAVERTON, Ore.- The first day of 7-on-7 competition at The Opening at Nike World Headquarters featured many standout showings from the nation’s top prospects. 247Sports National Analysts JC Shurburtt, Steve Wiltfong, Barton Simmons and Brian Perroni give you their takes on some of the eye-catchers during the day.
Top247 running back Joe Mixon was impressive during the 7-on-7 competition at The Opening on Tuesday at Nike World Headquarters in Beaverton, Ore.
Top offensive skill player
Shurburtt- Wide receiver Ermon Lane was a prospect I focused on quite a bit on Tuesday and he lived up to his billing. Lane caught nearly everything that was thrown to him when I was watching and for the most part showed good hands. There’s a buzz going around out here that Lane may stay in-state, but also may not end up at “dream school” Miami. Will Florida or Florida State snag the Homestead talent?
Wiltfong- The Apocalypse team had several players make big-time plays, with touted running back Joe Mixon standing out for me. He proved he’s a complete back, and had one of the best catches of the day, a one-armed scoring grab.
Simmons- Wide receiver KD Cannon was the top big-play threat on the best team in the tournament. Trevion Thompson, Budda Baker, Artavis Scott, Joe Mixon and Michiah Quick all had big moments for Apocalypse but it was Cannon that seemed to constantly get behind the defense and finish the big play and make the big splash.
Perroni- KD Cannon was on a ridiculously loaded Apocalypse team that went 3-0 in pool play. He did a great job of getting behind the defensive backs with his speed but, perhaps more impressive were his hands. He made one grab on the goal line across his body that showed how strong his hands are. He also showed great elusiveness after the catch.
Top defensive skill player
Shurburtt- I think you have to go with five-star safety Quin Blanding. There were plenty of guys, obviously, that performed well, but Blanding simply makes plays in this setting. He covers a lot of ground and has one of the best natural knacks for breaking on the football of any safety I’ve seen. The Virginia commit has a special quality about him in coverage and showed that yet again on Tuesday.
Wiltfong- Virginia safety commit Quin Blanding’s Vapor Carbon team struggled, however the five-star continued to show out and had three interceptions on the day and several pass breakups.
Kyle Allen had a strong showing on Tuesday.
Simmons- Make no mistake, Tony Brown had his moments where he got beat. On one series he got beat on a sideline fade by Juju Smith and was beat on a touchdown by Ermon Lane a few plays later. But he had a short memory about it and was dominant the rest of the game. Brown was physical, athletic and lived up to his billing.
Perroni- John Bonney doesn't receive as much attention as a lot of the other defensive backs in this class but he is simply a great player. He played both free and strong safety at different times and was able to play man coverage as well as provide over-the-top help. He showed he has good game speed when he ran stride-for-stride with wide receiver Malachi Dupre down the sideline.
Shurburtt- I am not sure that any of the quarterbacks had the best day. I am going to go with Purdue commit David Blough here, though. Blough isn’t the best “prospect” at this event (there are 5-7 above him), but the Texas gunslinger has proven to be adept at thriving in this setting. His quick release and competitive fire help him.
Wiltfong- Georgia quarterback commit Jacob Park came out of the gate fast and was one of the keys to a great run through pool play for the aforementioned Apocalypse team.
Simmons- Take your pick of the quarterbacks on the Apocalypse team (Brad Kaaya, Jacob Park, Allen) and you can’t really go wrong but Allen was my guy for today because he was a little bit more consistent than the other two. Allen can make every throw on the field and then some but he also makes the right throws and doesn’t press, trying to force the big play.
Perroni- Kyle Allen really put it all together on Tuesday, showing off his arm strength, velocity and accuracy. He was hitting receivers in stride deep and also finding them on quick crossing routes. He was able to read the defense really well and his touch was great.
Shurburtt- Four-star athlete Curtis Samuel keeps on backing up the fact he’s a legitimate five-star contender. You watch Samuel on film and he can really play the game at a high level- he’s tough, athletic and makes a big impact. But then you check out the numbers- including a 4.36-second 40-yard dash- and the way he competes in a 7-on-7 setting and it all adds up.
Wiltfong- Michigan tight end commit Ian Bunting made a ton of big plays including several schools, proving he is one of the nation’s elite at his position.
Simmons- It’s time for Terrence Alexander to get his due. The undersized cornerback ran a 4.44 in the testing portion of the event and he was making plays consistently in 7on7. There were multiple plays on which Alexander caused an interception for one of his teammates with breakups.
Perroni- Wide receiver Erik Brown was really impressive today. The new Washington commit has a solid combination of size and speed. He's not a possession receiver but he can move the chains. He also does a good job stretching the field. He has had very good showings at both The Opening and Washington's camp over the past week.
Shurburtt- Quarterback DeShone Kizer, who is committed to Notre Dame, does a lot of good and a lot of bad in the 7-on-7 setting, but you can tell that when he puts it all together, the 6-foot-5, athletic passer has a chance to really be something special. There aren’t many signal callers across the country in this recruiting cycle that have the gifts he does, it will just take time for development.
Wiltfong- Five-star athlete John Smith (JuJu) versatility makes him special because as many plays as he made on Tuesday on offense, he may be even better on defense.
Simmons- Rashaan Evans is a big, long athlete that had more “wow” plays than any other linebacker. Evans had multiple interceptions but he also flashed crazy pursuit speed when he ran Jeff Jones down early in the day after a big play.
Perroni- Tony Brown has all the physical tools of an elite college cornerback. He is big and incredibly fast and there are times that he makes plays in this event that leave observers saying "Wow." However, he has not quite put it all together in pads yet. With his sprinter's speed and coverage ability, he has a chance to be a big-time star.