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Which recruits will surprise at The Opening Finals 2017?

What SB Nation’s experts want to see at the recruiting showcase.

The Opening
The Opening

With Nike’s The Opening Finals showcase taking place this weekend, I return with an episode of the SB Nation College Football Recruiting Podcast. You can subscribe to the show on Apple Podcasts and Stitcher.

Listen in the embedded player below, or click here.

What is The Opening?

I get into that on the show, but you can read about it here. The schedule can be found here. And the roster is here. And here is an explanation of why it is in Oregon.

How many true five-star QBs are there?

To me, Clemson commit Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields, who is uncommitted, are no-doubters. But will Matt Corral, the former USC commitment, show that he deserves to keep his status? Does California QB Tanner McKee deserve to be a five-star?

Who is the best cornerback?

I love watching defensive backs in these settings, because in high school they so rarely face off against elite talents.

Pat Surtain Jr. has the size, athleticism, and technique to go wire-to-wire as the top corner in the country. But could Houston’s Anthony Cook challenge him? Cook is not small, and he might be even quicker than Surtain. I’m also interested to see how Surtain’s teammate, Tyson Campbell, performs on the big stage. Campbell is the freak of freaks at the corner position, but does he have the technique and instincts to claim the top spot?

Can K.J. Henry make a claim as the top defensive lineman?

Typically, the best defensive lineman in the country is an explosive defensive end with length, or a massive defensive tackle.

But in the 2018 class, the top defensive end to date has been Xavier Thomas. The Clemson commit is a terror on the field, with speed and power, but checks in at just a hair under 6’3, and 260 pounds. That’s not the physical profile of the typical top defensive end in the country. The top tackle in 2018 to date is Taron Vincent, who measures 6’2 and 285 pounds. Vincent, an Ohio State commitment, is a great player, but does not have the size of previous No. 1 DT recruits.

KJ Henry, of North Carolina, has the prototypical length coming off the edge at almost 6’6, and put on a show at the North Carolina Nike Regional Opening event. If he shows out this week, he could be in for a big ratings bump.

Will someone emerge as the clear No. 1 receiver?

There are many talented receivers this year. Louisiana's Terrace Marshall is my personal No. 1 entering the event, due to his size, speed, and ball skills. But I don’t believe it is a runaway. Justyn Ross, of Alabama, Brennan Eagles, of Texas, or Kamryn Babb, of Missouri could all make a case.

Or maybe, just maybe, Amon-Ra St. Brown, of California, will prove that he deserves the honor despite his 5’11 stature.

Rapid Fire

  • Which linebackers will be able to cover?
  • Will a truly elite offensive tackle emerge?
  • How will Australian Daniel Faalele do against elite pass rushers?

Follow along with our 2017 Opening Finals live blog, starting Friday afternoon: