Save a couple of noteworthy names, the top defensive line prospects in the country competed at The Opening this year and we learned quite a bit in watching (the majority) work out against elite offensive line prospects in helmets and shoulder pads in various drills and one-on-ones. Here are five thoughts plus a report on each of the participants in the photo feature below.
Seven stock risers- Solomon Thomas, DE, Coppel (Texas), Gerald Willis, DT, New Orleans (La.) Edna Carr, Ainuu Taua, DT, Lompoc (Calif.), Thomas Holley, DT, Brooklyn (N.Y.) Lincoln, Garrald McDowell, DE/DT, Covington (La.), Chad Thomas, DE, Miami (Fla.) Booker T. Washington, Derek Barnett, DE, Brentwood (Tenn.) Brentwood Academy.
Legit question- What position is the best for four-star Ohio State commit Jalyn Holmes? Some scouts and college coaches like him at tight end, some like him at outside linebacker, some like him at defensive end. He was up and down in the one-on-ones at The Opening at end, so it may be that a position (like linebacker or tight end) where he can use his athleticism in space is best.
Louisiana switch- After watching both McDowell and Willis, there’s little doubt both are high-level talents, but we may have them projected at the wrong spot. Willis is now 6-foot-3, 275 pounds, which changes things dramatically from when he was a 6-foot-2, 246-pounder with 5.0 speed. He was outstanding at times in the one-on-ones. McDowell is a filled out 6-foot-1, 252-pounder, who we thought would grow into a tackle. He may just end up being one of those relentless undersized ends who makes play after play.
Improving Thomas- At Florida’s Friday Night Lights Camp one year ago, Chad Thomas did not look the part of an elite defensive lineman. Surprisingly enough, it was his athleticism that was in question. Fast forward to The Opening and it’s a different story. Thomas measured in at 6-foot-5, 240 pounds, ran a 4.85 40-yard dash and a 4.37 shuttle. Then after testing well, he more than held his own in the one-on-ones and run blocking drills, taking on double teams well and winning more than his share of reps. Miami and Louisville appear to be battling it out here.
Arkansas bigs- A pair of U.S. Army All-American defensive tackles from the state of Arkansas, Bijhon Jackson (El Dorado, Ark.) and Josh Frazier (Springdale, Ark./Har Ber)[/b] competed at the event. Jackson, at 6-foot-1.5, 330 pounds, showed excellent quickness and even won a couple of reps against center Brian Allen, a Michigan State commit who did not lose very many. Frazier lined up more on the outside at times, but his athleticism (6-foot-4, 323 pounds, 4.76 shuttle) was evident. As he gets stronger, look out. Which one is better? Jackson is better right now, but Frazier could have more upside. Jackson is an Arkansas commit and Frazier is a Northwest Arkansas prospect who most predict to the Razorbacks.
Photos by Jamie Oakes
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