Previewing NIKE’s “The Opening” and why SEC fans have to tune in

NCAA Football: U.S. Army All-American Bowl

EDITOR’S NOTE: Saturday Down South will be on site covering The Opening in Oregon next week, recapping how the SEC kids performed, as well as what is on their minds. Check back all next week for updates!

Once upon a time, there were several big summer showcases and camps and combines, but there wasn’t a clear cut No. 1 destination. Well, those days are over.

In Beaverton (Ore.) at its worldwide headquarters, NIKE is hosting “The Opening” and the quarterbacking fan’s dream–The Elite 11 camp–from Sunday until next Thursday. It is the fourth year for the event. More than 160 of the best high school football players in the nation will be on hand, and 34 of those players are already committed to SEC schools. Also, dozens of other prime SEC targets will be there.

Nine Alabama commitments and seven Texas A&M pledges will be on hand, fitting because those are the No. 1 and No. 2 rated classes in the country.

RELATED: South Carolina, LSU and Vandy are expected to pick up four-star commitments at The Opening, while Tennessee will likely land a five-star

SEC fans can catch their future stars on television Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Each evening–beginning at 8 p.m. Eastern Time–the camp will be recapped on ESPNU. Want to see future Texas A&M quarterback Kyler Murray test himself against SEC West rival Alabama’s future DB Minkah Fitzpatrick? This kind of matchup could and probably will happen.

Along with combine competitions and 7-on-7 competitions, there will also be a lineman challenge. So all positions will get their chance to shine.

“I’m just so excited about this week and everything that comes with it, from competing against the best to being in such a great place as the NIKE headquarters,” Alabama O-line commitment Richie Petitbon told Saturday Down South this week. “And I’m so excited to learn from all of the great coaches that will be with us all week and also excited to be with all my future teammates. I’m just so excited and honored to be invited to such a great event.”

Five-star Tennessee and Auburn quarterback/athlete target Torrance Gibson agreed.

“I’m very excited,” Gibson told Saturday Down South. “I’m just going to go out there, showcase my God-given talent and have fun.”

Below are two lists: The first one shows the 34 current SEC commitments who are participating, split up by their schools, and the next list has some of the top uncommitted SEC targets who will participate. Notably absent are the No. 1 player in the nation, DT Trent Thompson of Georgia, and the No. 4 player, heavy duty Florida Gator target CeCe Jefferson. However, No. 2 Josh Sweat and No. 5 Martez Ivey will be there and represent the top two uncommitted SEC targets at the camp.

Editor’s note: Saturday Down South’s references to recruiting rankings are to industry composite ranking.


Minkah Fitzpatrick Alabama Jersey City, NJ 5 DB
Calvin Ridley Alabama Pompano Beach, FL 4 WR
Deionte Thompson Alabama Orange, TX 4 S
Shawn Burgess-Becker Alabama Pompano Beach, FL 4 ATH
Blake Barnett Alabama Corona, CA 4 QB
Richie Petitbon Alabama Washington, DC 4 OL
Lester Cotton Alabama Tuscaloosa, AL 4 OL
Jonathan Ledbetter Alabama Tucker, GA 3 DT
Montrell Custis Alabama Hampton, GA 3 DB
Sheriron Jones Florida Moreno Valley, CA 4 QB
Deondre Farrier Florida Orlando, FL 3 WR
Terry Godwin Georgia Hogansville, GA 5 ATH
Natrez Patrick Georgia Atlanta, GA 4 DE
Rico McGraw Georgia Nashville, TN 4 DB
Chauncey Rivers Georgia Stone Mountain, GA 4 DE
Jackson Harris Georgia Columbia, TN 3 TE
C.J. Conrad Kentucky Lagrange, OH 4 TE
Kevin Toliver II LSU Jacksonville, FL 5 DB
Maea Teuhema LSU Keller, TX 5 OL
Nick Brossette LSU Baton Rouge, LA 4 RB
Kendell Jones Miss. State Pinson, AL 3 DE
Deddrick Thomas Miss. State Memphis, TN 3 ATH
Drew Lock Mizzou Lees Summit, MO 4 QB
Mark Fields South Carolina Cornelius, NC 4 DB
Sherrod Pittman South Carolina Jacksonville, FL 4 LB
Preston Williams Tennessee Hampton, GA 5 WR
Cecil Cherry Tennessee Frostproof, FL 4 LB
Daylon Mack Texas A&M Gladewater, TX 5 DT
Kyler Murray Texas A&M Allen, TX 5 QB
Damarkus Lodge Texas A&M Cedar Hill, TX 5 WR
Larry Pryor Texas A&M Sulphur Springs, TX 4 S
Jordan Davis Texas A&M Houston, TX 4 TE
Kemah Siverand Texas A&M Houston, TX 4 WR
Justin Dunning Texas A&M Whitehouse, TX 4 S




2 Josh Sweat Chesapeake, VA  Tennessee DE
5 Martez Ivey Apopka, FL  Florida OL
10 Kendall Sheffield Missouri City, TX  Texas A&M DB
11 Malik Jefferson Mesquite, TX  Texas A&M LB
14 Byron Cowart Seffner, FL  Florida DE
16 Torrance Gibson Fort Lauderdale, FL  Tenn./Auburn QB
17 Daron Payne Birmingham, AL  Alabama DT
22 Terry Beckner Jr. East Saint Louis, IL  Mizzou DE
23 Damien Harris Berea, KY  Kentucky RB
25 George Campbell Tarpon Springs, FL  Florida ATH
26 Tim Settle Manassas, VA  Tennessee DT
31 Kahlil McKenzie Concord, CA  Tennessee DT
33 Tyron Johnson New Orleans, LA  LSU WR
34 Tarvarus McFadden Fort Lauderdale, FL  LSU S


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