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

By William Wilkerson

The Longhorns only had two representatives at The Opening last week but had numerous other targets in attendance. Here is a look at five commitments/targets who improved their stock with solid performances against the nation’s best.

1. DE Solomon Thomas (Coppell, Texas/Coppell)
6-3, 256
ESPN 300 Rank: 33

Solomon Thomas
Solomon Thomas equipped himself well against the nation's elite offensive linemen at The Opening.
How he improved his stock: Getting singled out by Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh as a defensive lineman who impressed him most at The Opening is going to raise your stock a little. Thomas overcame some tough reps against No. 1 offensive tackle Cameron Robinson (West Monroe, La./West Monroe) early on in the camp to have a very successful few days in Oregon.

The question is, did he leave there homesick? Texas sure hopes so. The Longhorns are competing against some heavy hitters for Thomas’ pledge. He’s visited Texas the most out of any school but hasn’t been to Austin in a few months. He’s visited Ohio State, Alabama and Notre Dame recently. His efforts at The Opening will only make these teams come at him harder.

2. S Jamal Adams (Lewisville, Texas/Hebron)
6-0, 204
ESPN 300 Rank: 24

How he improved his stock: Adams was waiting for The Opening as much, or more, than anyone who attended. He believes he is the top safety in the country and wanted to use this camp as a platform to prove that.
He didn’t do anything to disprove his notion, though Quin Blanding did nothing worthy of being displaced as the No. 1 safety in the ESPN 300 either.

Adams was phenomenal in 7-on-7 in large part because of his ability to cover like a cornerback. That’s one of the reasons Texas likes him so much. He also ran a 4.48 40-yard dash.

3. QB Jerrod Heard (Denton, Texas/Guyer)
6-2, 196
ESPN 300 Rank: 138

How he improved stock: We all know Elite 11 competition doesn’t bring out the best in dual-threat quarterbacks, but Heard thrived. He finished No. 4 in the final Elite 11 rankings and made a major impression on Trent Dilfer and his staff with his preparation, demonstrating major improvement from his showing at the Dallas Elite 11 qualifier in April.

Heard reviewed good reviews for his performance in 7-on-7 ball at The Opening, as well, and proved he’s been working hard this offseason to become a more complete quarterback.

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

How he improved stock: Brown didn’t need an appearance at The Opening to show people he’s an elite athlete. His two-sport resume speaks for itself, and it’s definitely no surprise he made the SPARQ finals.

But head-to-head competition against the best receivers in the country is what Brown came for, and it’s what he got. He didn’t win every battle, but the nation’s No. 3 cornerback reminded everyone his cover skills and competitive streak are hard to beat. Big-time recruits go to The Opening hoping to show they’re worthy of all the hype they’ve received, and Brown did just that.

5. RB Joe Mixon (Oakley, Calif./Freedom)
6-1, 209
ESPN 300 Rank: 137

How he improved his stock: There were plenty of elite running backs in attendance at The Opening. So it’s not so much what Mixon did on the field that might have improved his stock, at least as it concerns Texas, as much as it was what he did off the field.

He and Jamal Adams really seemed to hit it off (just read their tweets back and forth). Adams even tweeted something about “future teammates.”

It might be a long shot for Texas at this point, but having someone like Adams, who is still a legitimate option for the Longhorns, in Mixon’s corner can't hurt, especially if the two are entertaining the idea of playing together.