NCF On The Trail: 063013 Opening nation site stories

LAKE OSWEGO, Ore. -- ESPN 300 athlete Montae Nicholson (Monroeville, Pa./Gateway) has offers from some of the top programs in the country. Though he claims no favorites, he admits there are several school that he speaks with more often than others.


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BEAVERTON, Ore. -- While reporters peppered Sean White, the lone uncommitted quarterback at the Elite 11, with questions about his status, Jacob Park paused for a second, shook his head and smiled.


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BEAVERTON, Ore. -- It’s human nature to measure yourself against your peers, and Davidson (N.C.) Day School four-star quarterback and Florida recruit Will Grier believes he has more than held his own through the first three days of the Elite 11.

“I’m my own biggest critic, so I know I could have done better,” Grier said. “But I think overall, I’ve given my best effort. I definitely belong out here with these guys. But it’s also been a learning process for me, too.

“I’ve learned the mental part is the most important. I think I’ve grown mentally both on and off the field. That’s been the biggest thing. All this mental stuff connects off the field, then you can go out on the field and make it happen.”


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BEAVERTON, Ore. -- The scarlet-and-gray hats couldn’t be missed during Sunday’s registration for The Opening.

With nine players committed to Ohio State participating at The Opening, it seemed like everywhere you turned there was another future Buckeye. When the Ohio State recruits took a group photo, the photographer had to keep steping back to get them all in the picture.

Right there in the middle of it all with a big smile on his face was Leesburg (Ga.) Lee County quarterback Stephen Collier. He is soaking up every minute of his experience at the Elite 11 and The Opening, but he was especially enjoying hanging out with his future teammates.

“Columbus, we’re doing something great up there,” Collier, a three-star prospect who ranks as the nation’s No. 41 pocket passer, said. “We really are. We’re about to some great things.”


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LAKE OSWEGO, Ore. -- Four-star offensive tackle Corey Martinez (Tampa, Fla./Tampa Catholic) is set to make his decision Wednesday afternoon at The Opening. The ESPN 300 member will choose between his six finalists -- Miami, Alabama, Florida State, Vanderilt, Tennessee and LSU.

Martinez took time out during registration on Sunday to talk about his six finalist.


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LAKE OSWEGO, Ore. -- Michigan wide receiver commit Drake Harris (Grand Rapids, Mich./Grand Rapids Christian) was unable to attend The Opening because of his summer school schedule. That means tight end commit Ian Bunting (Hinsdale, Ill./Hinsdale Central) is the lone Michigan commit participating in the prestigious event.

That also means Bunting is on his own when it comes to recruiting some of the top Michigan targets joining him in Oregon. No matter, as the 6-foot-6, 213-pounder said he plans on doing the best he can.


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BEAVERTON, Ore. -- Kyle Allen was so good this weekend at the Elite 11 finals that it almost worked against him.


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BEAVERTON, Ore. -- The Elite 11 finals features quarterbacks with résumés that include 20, 30 and even 40 scholarship offers from schools all over the country. Then there is Kentfield (Calif.) Marin Catholic three-star quarterback Morgan Mahalak.

The 6-foot-3, 185-pound, dual-threat quarterback entered the Elite 11 without ever having started a varsity game. He was talented enough on film to earn looks from Duke, Idaho, NC State, Oregon State, South Alabama and USF before being offered by and committing to Oregon, but still there’s no question his body of work pales in comparison to others in the event.

That hasn’t stopped him from showing he belongs, though.


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BEAVERTON, Ore. -- Texas quarterback commit Jerrod Heard (Denton, Texas/John H. Guyer) drew some of the highest praise of the weekend from Trent Dilfer after several workouts at the Elite 11 finals.

“I was worried,” said Dilfer, head coach of the Elite 11 program. “I didn’t know how he’d handle this environment.”

But Heard, 138th in the ESPN 300 and the No. 5-rated dual-threat QB, has answered the challenge.


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BEAVERTON, Ore. -- With the battle for his high school eligibility won, quarterback David Cornwell (Norman, Okla./North) has turned his attention to aiding Alabama in its quest to again sign the nation's top recruiting class.


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LAKE OSWEGO, Ore. -- With nine commitments participating in The Opening, Ohio State will be well represented at the event. ESPN 150 defensive back Damon Webb (Detroit/Cass Tech) says that the future Buckeyes will be using this event as a bonding experience.

"This is a chance for all of us to get together and hang out. To get to know each other on the field," he said. "I'm playing on the same team as some of the commits so it will be fun."

With that many commitments on hand, considering they are from all over the country, it will also give some of the commitments an opportunity to meet for the first time.

How do the future Buckeyes plan on spending their time together this week?


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LAKE OSWEGO, Ore. -- ESPN 300 defensive tackle Garrald McDowell (Covington, La./Covington) received good news recently when his favorite childhood team, LSU, extended a scholarship.

The 6-foot-1, 257-pound defensive tackle, who has offers from Alabama, Ole Miss, Florida and many others, said it was a big relief to receive the offer from his home-state team.


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LAKE OSWEGO, Ore. -- Washington tight end commit Chase Blakley (Coeur D'Alene, Idaho/Coeur D'Alene) knows that not too many prospects get recruited out of his home state. He takes pride in where he's from, though, and is excited to show people what he can do at one of the summer's elite football events, The Opening.


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