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The Opening 2015 Recap: Pac-12 commits and targets

Observations on several Pac-12 commits and targets from The Opening in Beaverton, Oregon


Going into The Opening, the Pac-12 had a decent amount of commitments heading into the camp that featured 166 of the top recruits in the nation. During the camp, though, no conference benefited more from the announcements as programs from the conference added five new blue chip commitments in cornerback Jared Mayden (Oregon), linebacker Lamar Winston (Oregon), linebacker Camilo Eifler (Washington), defensive back CJ Pollard (USC), and athlete Trevon Sidney (USC).

In addition to those five, there were plenty of other Pac-12 commitments and targets and I was on hand at the Nike World Headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon to watch all of the prospects in action. Now that the event has concluded, here's some of the things that stood out to me from a Pac-12 perspective:

- There were other more physically impressive players at the camp, but not many more than USC linebacker commit Daelin Hayes. He's not quite cut up. He just has a massive frame (6'4" 249 with awesome length) and no other linebacker looked anywhere close to him from a physical standpoint.

He is fluid enough to play the linebacker position at this time, but I believe he is going to get too big eventually and be an edge defender. He hasn't played a ton of actual football the last two seasons because of an injury as a sophomore and a transfer last season, so hopefully he is line for a big senior year. He has 5 star tools.

- This group of tight ends at The Opening this year was a really good one and Stanford tight end Kaden Smith was probably the third best tight end in that group after Florida State commit Isaac Nauta and Ohio State commit Jake Hausmann. Smith already has the look of a Stanford tight end and could practically slip onto campus and be physically ready to go this season. It's scary to think that he is only going to be a senior in high school in the fall.

He uses his body to shield defenders very well and he displayed reliable hands over the middle of the field whenever I got to see him.

- Two of the best corners I saw this week were from out west. Byron Murphy was physical and showed outstanding mirroring skills. He weighed in at only 163 pounds and ran a 4.6 in the testing portion of the camp. He plays much bigger and much faster than that on the field, though, and that's what's most important. Washington, Arizona State, UCLA, and USC are in contention to land him.

Long Beach Poly's Jack Jones proved he could lock down just about any receiver in attendance and also made plays at the safety position as well. He is another undersized player who didn't test fast, but he certainly doesn't back down against bigger receivers and can run with just about all of them. He struggled against the MVP of the camp, Kyle Davis, but so did every other corner who attempted to cover with him. USC and UCLA are both on Jones' list of top schools.

- With C.J. Pollard committing to USC, it would seem inevitable that players like Brandon Burton and Oluwole Betiku would also be destined to be Trojans following in the footsteps of many recent players from the school, but both Burton and Betiku don't have USC on their list of remaining schools as it currently stands.

Burton showed the potential to be a ballhawk at free safety this week and has so much range back deep. He tracks the ball so well. He's even better with the pads on when he can be an intimidator as a hitter in the secondary as well. UCLA and Arizona are the two Pac-12 schools that are still heavily in the mix for him.

Betiku is just getting started with this game and his potential is scary. He is a physical freak of nature who seemed to get better with every rep he took. He had one on one on Thursday where he threw 2017 5 star offensive tackle Calvin Ashley out of the way so violently that it knocked Ashley out for the rest of the camp. He could end up being a special player at the next level and might end up being the top pass rusher in this class when all is said and done. UCLA is the Pac-12 school that appears to have the best shot at keeping him out west.

- As if USC wasn't loading up enough with talent this class at the wide receiver position that was recently bolstered with Trevon Sidney, who was fantastic this week working out of the slot, the Trojans are the heavy favorite to land Tyler Vaughns as well. Vaughns showed a lot of improvement as a route runner since his junior season and he may have the best hands out of any player in the nation. His body control is tremendous as well. Even when he is covered, he never seems to be covered. If the ball is thrown anywhere near him, chances are he is coming down with it. UCLA cornerback commitment Jordan Parker seemed to have him blanketed a few times when they were matched up. It didn't ultimately matter because Vaughns kept catching the ball against him and Parker couldn't stop him.

- Athlete Melquise Stovall is going to be another good option for USC as a receiver whether he is lined up in the slot or the backfield. I think he can do some damage as an inside runner as well even though he is so tiny. The variety of weapons the Trojans are adding is going to be scary for Pac-12 defensive coordinators to deal with.

- Another USC commit, linebacker Mique Juarez, was one of the top linebackers overall at the camp. He took a couple of picks back to the house in 7 on 7 competition and his athleticism shined through whenever he dropped back in coverage. He surpassed my expectations. UCLA is still one of the schools that is trying to flip the long time Trojan commitment.

- The last USC commit I'll get to is offensive lineman Frank Martin. Originally before this camp, I saw him more as a future guard, but he convinced me that he has a shot to be a solid option at tackle as well. He was lighter on his feet than I expected.

- Guard Michael Eletise was wearing a Washington shirt around after getting done with the linemen workout on Friday and the Huskies are the Crystal Ball favorite to land him with the two Arizona schools also in the mix to land him. I was a big fan of Eletise going into this camp and I'm an even bigger fan now. He was one of the only players to win a rep versus the top defensive linemen at the camp, Rashan Gary, all week. He was one of the best interior offensive linemen at the camp and did a very good job against an awesome defensive tackle group that featured several 5 star level players. He was one of the only players that knew how to adjust to the bull rush and reset his pad level to stone pass rushers that rushed him straight up. Whoever lands him will be getting a very good player.

- In another year, De La Salle's Boss Tagaloa would be considered one of the best defensive tackle prospects in the nation. He still might be, but there was a noticeable drop off between him and the top guys like Gary, Derrick Brown, Dexter Lawrence, Raekwon Davis, and Ed Oliver. Tagaloa is big and powerful, but does not have the athleticism or advanced hand use as a pass rusher that those other players do. He is strictly a bull rusher at this time and needs to add more to his game to become a better pass rusher and be more than just a run stuffer. UCLA, Arizona, and Cal are all schools he is still looking at.

- Defensive end Connor Murphy is another player with a high ceiling and could potentially be a beast once he adds to his frame. 6'7" with ridiculously long arms is always a good look for a defensive end. He clearly needs to get stronger at this point and isn't going to be someone who steps in and contributes immediately at the next level. He struggled to win on the edge and needs to improve his pad level and hand violence. If he does, he is going to be an incredibly tough player to block with that arm length. Oregon, Stanford, and Arizona State all want to tap into that enormous potential that Murphy has.

- The only Pac-12 commitment at quarterback was K.J. Costello. The future Stanford player was ranked number four on the final Elite 11 list and showed a big arm while delivering the football into tight windows on many occasions. I did think Costello was a little indecisive when his first read wasn't there in 7 on 7 action, but he made some great throws all week. Some touch throws in the red zone were particularly impressive.

- Another Stanford commitment, linebacker Curtis Robinson, did some nice things this week as well. He blanketed most tight ends when he played man coverage. He clearly has a different look than previous Stanford outside linebackers. He also is a different kind of athlete at outside linebacker than they've had as well. A player like him could signal a shift in philosophy for the Cardinal in adjusting to some of the spread concepts they have to face almost every week in the Pac-12.

- Linebacker Caleb Kelly was on the same team as Robinson and also did a great job in coverage versus tight ends. He was one of the only players that did a good job when matched up with Isaac Nauta and did so by playing physical. That's the big difference between Robinson and Kelly as prospects. They are similar athletes. Both very fluid that can run really well. Kelly is simply bigger, more physical, and has a frame to carry more weight as well. It's tough for linebackers to shine at this camp, but Kelly lived up to the 5 star expectations I had for him. Stanford, Oregon, and USC are the three Pac-12 schools in his top seven for the Fresno linebacker.

- Washington running back commitment Sean McGrew is so tiny, yet so explosive as an athlete. When he gets into the open field as a pass catcher, he threatens any linebacker who doesn't have a good angle trying to tackle him. He is going to be a weapon on third down for the Huskies during his career.

- A camp that is mostly about a 7 on 7 tournament isn't going to be where De La Salle tight end Devin Asiasi is going to show he is elite even though he has very good hands and moves better than anyone would expect for his size. He is going to be best in pads. I hope none of the services drop his ranking because of a lack of an eye popping performance because he is a stud when the games matter. Oregon and USC are high on his list.

- The Opening was a great opportunity for offensive lineman Frederick Mauigoa to show that he belongs with the other elite linemen in attendance and I think Mauigoa proved that he belonged this week. The kid from American Samoa only has a handful of offers, Oregon State and Washington State being two of them, but more should be on the way. He got better and better each day despite having to go against big time competition rep after rep.

- I'll finish up with the smallest player at the event in Traveon Beck. The Cal commit is so tiny and that is obviously a bit concerning because at 5'8" 155, he is going to always be matched up with bigger players than him. He may have perfect coverage and still not win on a play because of his size. I really liked his film and think he showed some ability as a nickel corner in this setting. He didn't play on the outside when I watched him and I think it's obvious why. He would have had a heck of a time going against some of these jumbo receivers who were out jumping and out muscling corners that are 6'1" and 195. Small players have beaten the odds before and I certainly liked his instincts and acceleration when breaking on the football at this camp. I just worry about him being limited to the nickel and not someone who can ever be an option on the outside against elite receivers.