MIAMI, Fla. — The Nike Opening Regional tour rolled into South Florida on Sunday, bringing with it almost 100 prospects who held Power 5 offers by mid-February.
Six invitees to The Opening Finals, a recruiting Super Bowl
The Opening Finals is a collection of some of the best recruits in the nation, squaring off in drills and combine events every summer. The invites are based on a combination of film evaluation and in-camp performance.
- Safety Lejond Cavasos, of Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy showed up and showed out, posting the most ridiculous Nike Rating Score of 133.26 — based on a 4.40-second 40-yard dash, a 36.5’ power ball throw, a 4.16 shuttle time, and a vertical jump of 44.4”. Cavasos has been posting elite numbers at the Nike events for years now, so this is not a surprise. Cavasos, who is originally from Texas, decommitted from Ohio State in December, and since then, his plan has remained the same: he wants to take a step back, be more methodical, and make sure he makes the right decision. LSU, Florida, Miami, and a number of other SEC and Big Ten schools could be in the mix. And Ohio State is not out.
- Don Chaney Jr., of Miami (Fla.) Belen Jesuit was one of the top two running backs on the day. His straight-line speed is quite impressive. The Miami commitment does not plan on visiting any other schools, and is focused on recruiting for Miami.
- Defensive end Samuel Anaele, of Miami (Fla.) Carol City was again impressive on Sunday. Anaele looks and plays like a prospect who is 25, not 18, and the Miami commitment won the majority of his reps. Unlike Cheney, Anaele is more open to taking visits, but maintains that he is solid to the Hurricanes.
- Jaylan Knighton, an elite running back out of Deerfield Beach (Fla.) was still very high on the Clemson Tigers following a visit to see the national champions. After decommitting from Oklahoma, he is not in a rush to make a decision, saying that he plans to commit on August 2nd. “Clemson, Oklahoma, and Ohio State,” Knighton said when asked which three schools he knows will be hats on his table for his commitment ceremony. The Buckeyes will get Knighton on campus for their spring game. Florida, Florida State, and Miami will also get looks. And Knighton denied the rumors that he is a silent commitment (not yet public) to Clemson. Knighton has excellent hands for a running back.
- Cornerback Henry Gray, of Miami (Fla.) Central, recently released a top eight consisting of Auburn, Clemson, Florida, Kentucky, Georgia, Ohio State, Penn State, and Tennessee. Among those, Ohio State and Clemson are believed to be in excellent shape. He’ll be visiting Ohio State and Clemson this spring. Gray maintains that hat he is taking things slowly following his recent decommitment from Miami. Gray has excellent length for a corner at 6’0.
- Ft. Lauderdale (Fla.) St. Thomas Aquinas receiver Marcus Rosemy has some of the best hands I have seen in a receiver recruit in over a decade scouting prospects. 50/50 balls are more like 75/25 when he is going up to get them. The 6’1 Rosemy is not a burner (4.59 40), but does find ways to get open (4.38 shuttle), and catch the football. He mentioned Ohio State, Penn State, and Georgia, and the Big Three Florida schools (Florida, Florida State, and Miami) as schools in which he is seriously interested. Rosemy will visit Ohio State for its spring game. He is tight with Ohio State WR coach Brian Hartline.
Six standouts to know
1. WR Marcus Fleming, of Miami (Fla.) Northwestern is basically uncover-able in space. The Hurricanes commitment is rated as a four-star and again make defensive backs look silly. Florida and Florida State are pushing, however, and visits are expected. Fleming’s recruitment might be a long way from being over.
2. Miami (Fla.) Norland OL Issiah Walker Jr. missed part of workouts with an injury, but those reps in which he did participate were impressive. The South Carolina commit is a legitimate 6’4 and has the quickness to play tackle. His four-star rating looks legit.
3. OL Marcus Dumervil, of Ft. Lauderdale (Fla.) St. Thomas Aquinas showed up and showed out, using his long arms, balance, and quickness to demonstrate why he is one of the best in the state. Nobody seems to have a read on where the 6’5, 300-pounder is heading, but Georgia, Alabama, Oklahoma, Clemson, and all the national powers are in contention. Dumervil claims that everyone is “even,” and he is very open to leaving the state.
4. St. Thomas Aquinas LB Derek Wingo just keeps getting better and better. The Penn State commitment is 6’2, 215, is very athletic, and has great football intelligence by virtue of having also played some QB in high school. His place inside the top 200 feels right.
5. WR Xavier Restrepo, also of Thomas Aquinas, is a good football player. He is a technician with his routes, routinely gets open, and catches the ball consistently. Because he is not huge or a freakish athlete, he likely won’t get four stars, but it is good to see that he is being rated inside the top 700 nationally as of Monday. Restrepo visited Kentucky for a recent junior day. I am not saying he will be a star, but I have a hard time thinking he’d fail to be a productive player in college.
6. Miami (Fla.) Columbus DL Elijah Roberts is rated as one of the top 20 weak-side defensive ends nationally. He likely profiles as more of a strong-side player at 6’4 and 245 pounds entering his senior season, but showed good burst and twitch at the event. Roberts is high on FSU, Miami, Penn State, and is not in a rush to make a decision.
Three players who looked better than their rankings and offers might suggest
- Miami (Fla.) Carol City WR Thaiu Jones-Bell is a current three-star recruit who has been lighting the showcase world on fire in the last 10 weeks, including Sunday and the Pylon Orlando 7v7 tournament. He has adequate size at 5’11, and his acceleration is excellent. His recent offers include FSU, Miami, Alabama, LSU, Oregon, and Tennessee. The buzz around camp was that he’ll end up at Alabama.
- OL Jeremiah Mawali of Hollywood (Fla.) Chaminade-Madonna currently has no star rating, but I have seen him improve at several recent events, including Sunday. The 6’5, 290-pound Mawali transferred from Boynton Beach to Chaminade for his senior season. He moved very well for his size in the individual drills, and had some nice reps in 1v1, though his technique needs to improve. Mawali said that he was excited to pick up offers from Purdue and Maryland in the last few weeks. FSU and Miami have reached out, and Mawali grew up a fan of Florida State. He believes he’ll need to camp for some bigger offers.
- Ft. Lauderdale (Fla.) Cardinal Gibbons OL Gerald Mincey is currently rated outside the top 1,000 players nationally. I would expect that to change. The Kentucky commitment is 6’6, 325, and young for his grade level. He stayed in front of some of the quicker prospects in South Florida, and it’s clear he is becoming more aware of how to use his large body and improving rapidly. Mincey said that he believes his commitment to Kentucky has caused other teams to pull the trigger on offers, including Mississippi State, Auburn, and Missouri. He does plan to take other visits. Mincey called Florida his “dream school,” and teammate Chris Bogle signed with the Gators in 2019. He said that he is looking for contact from Miami or Florida State, but so far he has not received much.
For the serious recruitniks: underclassmen to know
- Ft. Lauderdale (Fla.) University School 2021 OL Marcus Tate was one of the best in attendance regardless of grade level. Tate is big at 6’4, 320, but has rare body control for his size and age. He already holds offers from a handful of major programs nationally.
- 2021 DL Donell Harris, of Miami (Fla.) Booker T. Washington is usually unblockable in a camp setting, and continued to be on Sunday. The Miami commitment has a great build for an underclassman defensive end at 6’4, 210. He explodes out of the blocks. Harris said he is “1,000 percent” committed to Miami.
- 2021 DL Tyreak Sapp, a relative of Warren Sapp, is a big time player. The Florida commitment has a great blend of strength and quickness at 6’2, 250.
- 2022 OL Julian Armella, of Ft. Lauderdale (Fla.) St. Thomas Aquinas is incredibly impressive for a player of his size (6’5, 285) and age. He also got chippy with some of the better prospects in the area and did not back down. Armella is an FSU legacy.