- Greg Ostendorf, ESPN Staff Writer
The nation’s elite high school football prospects have arrived in Oregon for The Opening, but for a select few, it’s a return trip to the premier camp in America.
University of Alabama running back commitment Altee Tenpenny and fellow Crimson Tide targets Derrick Henry and Laremy Tunsil were the only three underclassmen to compete at last year’s camp. The trio is back this year with something to prove.
“It was a great experience,” Tenpenny said. “Going into this year, I feel like last year’s experience will help me out there. I know how everything is going to go.”
Tenpenny, a native of North Little Rock, Ark., made a name for himself when he finished second in the SPARQ National Championship. Alabama signee Landon Collins won the event with a score of 143.76.
This year, both Tenpenny and Henry, who also finished in the top four, are back, ready to top Collins’ score and win the title.
“Last year, I finished in the top four,” Henry said. “That was my first time being out there, so I was just overwhelmed and enjoyed the experience, but this year I want to win it. This whole summer I’ve been training for it, so when I get there, I’m prepared to win the SPARQ competition.”
The two were roommates last summer, but this year, it’s every man for himself when it comes to the competition. Neither will admit to any friendly rivalry between each other, though.
“There’s no competition,” Henry said. “I appreciate what he can do just like he appreciates what I can do. I love watching him just like he loves watching me.”
“I don’t really see it as a rivalry,” Tenpenny said. “Last year, we were roommates, so it’s just like two friends competing against each other.”
Depending on what the future holds, Henry and Tenpenny may be competing with each other one day for playing time in Alabama’s backfield. Tenpenny is already committed, and Henry recently named the Tide his leader.
Even if Henry chooses Alabama, Tenpenny says it will have no effect on his decision.
“Whatever someone else doesn’t have anything to do with me,” the UA commit said. “I’m still going to do what I’ve got to do and make the best decision for me. If he comes to Alabama, that’s great. If he doesn’t, best of luck wherever he goes. I know he’s a great athlete.”
Tenpenny is still being recruited heavily by Arkansas and said he may attend camp at the in-state school later this month.
With Robert Nkemdiche staying home, Foster is the top-ranked recruit nationally to attend the camp, and during Thursday’s live chat at registration, Howard made it clear that he was going to work on keeping Foster in the class.
“I’m not trying to get anyone else,” Howard said. “I’m trying to keep Reuben Foster. He is one of my close friends, and I’ll be talking to him and making sure he stays at Bama. That’s my only concern right now. He’s a game changer, no doubt.”
Bateman is one of just six quarterbacks who will be throwing at the event.
4dEdward Aschoff and Alex Scarborough
4dAlex Scarborough and Greg Ostendorf