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Tuesday, July 9, 2013
Alabama Top 5: The Opening standouts

By Greg Ostendorf



There’s a reason The Opening was considered the nation’s premier camp event of the summer. It showcased the top players from across the country through events such as the SPARQ competition, the OL/DL challenge and the 7-on-7 tournament.

For Alabama, the camp featured five commitments -- including Montel McBride, who made his decision while in Oregon -- and a number of top targets. Here’s a look at the top five Tide commitments or targets who helped themselves the most last week.

1. C J.C. Hassenauer (Woodbury, Minn./East Ridge)
6-foot-3, 292 pounds
ESPN 300 rank: N/R

Everybody was surprised when Hassenauer, a three-star prospect from Minnesota, was among the top five offensive linemen at The Opening. Everybody but Alabama. Hassenauer did the same thing just two weeks earlier at the Tide’s OL/DL camp. He dominated some of the nation’s top defensive linemen, earned an offer from the defending national champions and ultimately committed. The timing couldn’t have worked out better for the UA staff that had jumped on the center prospect before most people knew about him. Now the word is out. Hassenauer likely will get a significant bump in the next rankings, and this proves once again that Alabama is at another level when it comes to finding talent.

Cameron Robinson
At The Opening, top-rated tackle Cameron Robinson made his case for being ranked No. 1 overall.
2. OT Cameron Robinson (West Monroe, La./West Monroe)
6-5, 330
ESPN 300 rank: No. 7

Hassenauer might have been the biggest surprise among the offensive linemen, but Robinson was the most dominant. Even though a rule prevented him from wearing pads at the event, he showed why he’s the nation’s top-ranked offensive tackle. He was tabbed as a future first-round pick by the former NFL players who were in Oregon last week. It’s hard to go up when you’re the top player at your position, but Robinson made a case for the No. 1 overall spot in the ESPN 300 with his performance last week. It’s down to Alabama and LSU for his services, but he’s clearly a star in the making and has the talent to start as a freshman for either school.

3. WR Ermon Lane (Homestead, Fla./Homestead)
6-2, 196
ESPN 300 rank: No. 25

Dubbed as the next Amari Cooper, Lane has long been Alabama’s top target at wide receiver for 2014. He’s from the same area as Cooper, and he’s the top player at his position, ranked No. 25 overall in the ESPN 300. He didn’t disappoint at The Opening. The 6-foot-2, 196-pound Lane made several acrobatic catches throughout the week and shined even when he was matched up against Adoree' Jackson (Gardena, Calif./Juniperro Serra), the nation’s No. 2 cornerback. Lane was catching passes from Florida commitment Will Grier (Davidson, N.C./Day) all week, but Alabama is still one of his top schools. He plans to visit Tuscaloosa sometime this month.

4. OG Viane Talamaivao (Corona, Calif./Centennial)
6-2, 330
ESPN 300 rank: No. 123

Fellow offensive lineman and friend Damien Mama (Bellflower, Calif./John Bosco) might have had a better week, finishing among the top five in ESPN RecruitingNation’s top 10 list, but Talamaivao had a solid week of his own while out in Oregon. The Alabama commitment impressed his coaches, specifically former NFL star LeCharles Bentley, who coached the offensive linemen at The Opening. Bentley called Talamaivao one of the most pure offensive linemen he’s ever seen. The Tide will look to keep the California native committed, and the staff hopes he can help lure his friends Mama and Tyler Luatua (La Mirada, Calif./La Mirada) to the Capstone with him.

5. LB Rashaan Evans (Auburn, Ala./Auburn)
6-3, 217
ESPN 300 rank: No. 164

The Tide are on the outside looking in with Evans, but he was arguably the top performer from the state of Alabama at The Opening, and his name is worth mentioning. The outside linebacker prospect ran a 4.51 in the 40-yard dash, which tied him for the fastest among all the linebackers who participated. He was also active during the 7-on-7 competition with mulitple interceptions. Ultimately, Alabama wasn’t among the top five he put out right before the event -- Georgia and UCLA were No. 1 and No. 2 -- but sources close to him say the Tide are still in the mix. Evans also earned an invitation to the Under Armour All-America Game after last week’s camp.