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Tuesday, July 9, 2013
LSU Top 10: The Opening standouts

By Gary Laney

BATON ROUGE, La. -- Louisiana and LSU targets were well represented at the Opening. Speedy Noil won the Nike SPARQ competition. Plenty of others performed admirably.

Who did the most to help themselves? Here's a quick look:

1. DT Garrald McDowell (Covington, La./Covington)
6-foot-1, 257 pounds
ESPN 300 Rank: 108

How he helped himself: McDowell impressed scouts with his physical stature, which was a question mark coming in to the event. He's on the small side for a defensive tackle, but it became clear to scouts that he could add on weight without losing his speed, agility and motor that have made him a solid prospect despite being on the smallish side.

2. WR Malachi Dupre (River Ridge, La./John Curtis)
6-3, 187
ESPN 300 Rank: 28

How he helped himself: Like McDowell, Dupre went to Oregon with a bit of a question mark. Playing in a veer option offense for his powerhouse high school team, there were questions about how polished Dupre would be in a 7-on-7 setting. In a testament to the coaching he gets at Curtis and his own work ethic, Dupre more than held his own next to receivers who play in more complex passing offenses. In fact, he stood out, catching a key bomb in the championship game from camp MVP Sean White.

Cameron Robinson
Cameron Robinson pushed around the competition at The Opening.
3. OT Cameron Robinson (West Monroe, La./West Monroe)
6-5, 330
ESPN 300 Rank: 7

How he helped himself: When your are the nation's top-rated player at your position, how can you possibly improve your stock? By being so good, people start comparing you with the best linemen in past classes. That's what Robinson did in Oregon. Big, strong, quick, smart and with high marks for character, Robinson came away looking like an even more complete package ... if that's possible.

4. CB Tony Brown (Beaumont, Texas/Ozen)
6-0, 196
ESPN 300 Rank: 27

How he helped himself: Brown was already plenty highly regarded, but he did a lot to help himself in Oregon as arguably the best defensive back at the camp. Extremely athletic and with good size for the position, Brown showed a competitive streak that translates to being an elite player at his position.

5. Ath. Speedy Noil (New Orleans/Karr)
6-0, 176
ESPN 300 Rank: 8

How he helped himself: We already knew that Noil was probably the fastest, most sudden athlete in the country. You don't get the nickname "Speedy" in New Orleans for just being kind of fast, after all. But when he won the Nike SPARQ combine, he was even better than advertised. How does a 44-inch vertical leap grab you?

6. Gerald Willis III (New Orleans/Karr)
6-3, 275
ESPN 300 Rank: 29

How he helped himself: Willis held his own against Robinson in one-on-one battles and showed that he doesn't have to be seen as a tweener. Despite his large size, Willis may well have the agility to excel as a defensive end, his position of choice.

7. RB Leonard Fournette (New Orleans/St. Augustine)
6-1, 226
ESPN 300 Rank: 1

How he helped himself: The nation's top-ranked player gets compared to every great Louisiana runner before him and you'll see great speed-and-power backs such as Eddie George and even Herschel Walker get their names tossed around when folks start trying to find backs to compare Fournette to. What you don't see much of is talk about Fournette's receiving skills. In a camp not friendly to runners, Fournette showed he can be a receiver as well, displaying nice hands and fluid ability to adjust to the ball and transition back to being a runner. It's just another elite skill for Fournette.

8. Racean Thomas (Oxford, Ala./Oxford)
5-11, 202
ESPN 300 Rank: 35

How he helped himself: Like Fournette, Thomas was not in the right setting to stand out, given that The Opening is more of a quarterbacks-and-receivers showcase than a runners' show. But like Fournette, Thomas showed nice ball skills and certainly looked the part. Though he might be an Auburn lean, the possibility of a Fournette-Thomas backfield duo is exciting.

9. CB Adoree' Jackson (Gardena, Calif./Junipero Serra)
5-10, 182
ESPN 300 Rank: 5

How he helped himself: Called a "playmaking fool" by one scout, Jackson certainly showed that ability in Oregon. The only question from an LSU perspective is can the Tigers be a serious player for his services?

10. LB Clifton Garrett (Plainfield, Ill./Plainfield South)
6-2, 224
ESPN 300 Rank: 59

How he helped himself: Mostly by looking the part. As an upfield tackling machine, a camp setting isn't necessarily the place where his best attributes will be obvious. But he showed up as an imposing figure who's the perfect fit to play middle linebacker.