I spent Sunday at Nike’s Charlotte regional camp for The Opening, one of college football’s top recruiting showcases. This was the third Opening regional of the year for me, and it was the best of them in terms of quality of play. I’d also been to the camps in Cleveland (great line play) and Washington (great running backs and DBs), but the overall quality in Charlotte was really outstanding. Great players came from all over, and I suspect we’ll see a lot of them playing big roles for Power 5 teams soon.
There were more than 300 players in Charlotte. It’s impossible to track all of them, and this list is non-exhaustive. But here’s a sampling of the players I liked:
Cartersville (Ga.) product Trevor Lawrence is the No. 1 overall recruit in the class of 2018. That’s for good reason. Lawrence throws a different-looking ball than you’ll almost ever see from a high school quarterback. He just has an incredible, incredible arm, and I’m sure he’ll use it to ruin defenses for Clemson in the coming years.
Behold the majesty of a Lawrence deep ball:
.@wanyamorris64 The No. 1 overall recruit for 2018, Clemson QB commit @Trevorlawrencee, throws a beautiful deep ball. pic.twitter.com/zhgXKoqKDX— SB Nation Recruiting (@SBNRecruiting) May 8, 2017
The camp had a couple of four-star dual threats. I was a fan of Earle’s (Ark.) Gerry Bohanon and Fort Dorchester’s (S.C.) Dakereon Joyner. Both are athletes, but both can sling it, too. Bohanon likes Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Arkansas, Auburn, and Louisville. Joyner is down to South Carolina and NC State and plans to commit next month.
Ohio State QB commit Emory Jones is very much the real deal. Jones is still drawing heavy recruitment from other teams. He has a particular zip on his throws that looked better than any other QB at this camp’s — with the exception of Lawrence.
I also liked Texas A&M commit Cade Fortin, Auburn commit Joey Gatewood, and uncommitted Tennessee dual-threat Woodrow Lowe.
Four-star Green Hope (S.C.) target Jordyn Adams is great. Adams isn’t big, but he’s fast, and he’s got quite a pair of hands. He worked well with Lawrence, who told me he’d like to bring Adams with him to Clemson. That might happen, although Adams’ dad, Deke, is on staff at North Carolina, and the Heels are pushing for him, too.
Clemson commit Derion Kendrick is lightning-fast. He’ll be the beneficiary of many a Lawrence bomb over the next few years. Be afraid of this, ACC fans.
I loved Virginia Tech receiver commit Bryce Thompson. He strikes me as a potentially dominant slot receiver, with the route-running ability to shake nickel corners and run for huge chunks of yardage after the catch.
Class of 2019 Florida State tackle commit Wanya Morris is just a sophomore. It’s really hard to evaluate line play at these camps, but Morris has everything one looks for in this setting: fluid movements, body control, and a big frame.
Good player at the Charlotte Opening regional: 2019 #FSU offensive tackle commit @wanyamorris64. Very smooth. pic.twitter.com/pIYt5nlHEf— SB Nation Recruiting (@SBNRecruiting) May 8, 2017
Tank Jenkins, a 2018 prospect from Park Crossing (N.C.), was named the camp’s offensive line MVP. Jenkins is a big kid and, one rep I watched, practically set down a pass-rusher, like he wasn’t even bothered and was just trying not to hurt him.
Five-star West Forsyth (N.C.) end KJ Henry was as advertised. Henry is a smooth, strong pass-rusher who’s going to notch a lot of sacks at the next level. Clemson is widely considered the favorite to land the country’s No. 18 overall prospect.
Keep an eye on three-star Millbrook (N.C.) end Joseph Boletepeli. Every time I looked up and Boletepeli was at work, he was easily cruising past some poor tackle.
Four-star Concord (N.C.) defensive tackle Rick Sandidge Jr. was outstanding. Sandidge is big — a listed 6’5 and 270-plus — but he moves like an end. South Carolina is considered the favorite for Sandidge, but he gave me the impression that his recruitment is still pretty open. Some team will get a good one.
Four-star NC defensive lineman Rick Sandidge Jr. (@rickyo_90) has tackle size and glides past people like he's an end. So hard to stop. pic.twitter.com/gik4qqQQyb— SB Nation Recruiting (@SBNRecruiting) May 8, 2017
Four-star Lakota (Ohio) backer Xavier Peters is one of those recruits who, physically, looks like he could show up at the NFL Combine as a teenager and do just fine. Peters is an athlete, and he looked strong at both linebacker and tight end (or, in a camp context, receiver.)
Peters is still waiting on a few offers and says he doesn’t have “favorites.” It sounds like Ohio State and Notre Dame could enter the picture for Peters pretty quickly if they pull the trigger on offers.
“I look up to Ray Lewis,” he said. “I feel like I’ve got that motor like Ray Lewis. I’m glad that I’m out here, because I know that I’m gonna be aggressive and hard, because that’s how I play in the game. I’m a leader on the field. I call out plays and stuff, so I’m really efficient with the game.”
Five-star Loganville (Ga.) linebacker Owen Pappoe is an excellent athlete. He was one of the youngest players at last year’s Opening finals, and he’ll be a highly sought national recruit until the moment he puts pen to paper in 2019.
I didn’t get a long look at the camp’s defensive backs or running backs. Franklinton (N.C.) RB Ricky Person drew rave reviews from people who watched him, and he won the camp’s running back MVP award. Person is a four-star committed to NC State.
The defensive back MVP was three-star Alpharetta (Ga.) product Jaycee Horn. He’s considered an Alabama lean.
The day’s top athletic testers:
Here's the top 33 unofficial Nike Football Ratings from today's testing @TheOpening Charlotte regional. Full marks later this week!✔️ pic.twitter.com/4B4q4GskJ5— Brian Stumpf (@Stumpf_Brian) May 8, 2017