Alabama commits Blake Barnett and Calvin Ridley were named Elite 11 and event MVP, respectively, at Nike's The Opening. National recruiting director Tom Luginbill interviews the MVPs, and recruiting analyst Craig Haubert breaks down other top performers.
The Opening is in the books and was the final event we will use for analysis prior to prospects' senior seasons. Performances at the event will also affect the final ESPN 300 update before football season begins. With over 160 prospects in attendance, it would be impossible to address each one, but here are some superlatives from The Opening:
'Freak'ing out: Josh Sweat battled through a hip injury that sidelined him the final day, but his performance was still impressive. The No. 4 overall prospect in the ESPN 300 wasted little time creating a buzz. A physically impressive-looking prospect, the five-star has added some good size to his lean, lengthy, muscular frame while maintaining and, in some areas, improving his athleticism. Sweat, the lone lineman to make the final 10 of the SPARQ Championship, posted a 4.46 40 at 6-foot-5, 240 pounds in the prelims and exceeded his expectations in the kneeling power ball toss, hitting 47 feet and providing one of the "wow" moments of the final. When the event moved to the football field and linemen competed in shoulder pads and helmets, Sweat continued to impress. In one-on-ones, he flashed an explosive first step, was violent with his hands, displayed good ability to bend the edge and overall was tough to handle coming off the edge. There were high expectations for Sweat coming in, and he didn't disappoint. It was unfortunate he couldn't go the last day, but he demonstrated his competitive nature with his willingness to continue to compete despite being banged up and by that point had already made a statement. His lengthy frame, athleticism and power as well as his overall performance drew some comparisons to recent No. 1 overall NFL draft choice Jadeveon Clowney. Sweat's freakish athletic skills could eventually back up those comparisons.