Spiegelman’s Takeaways: The Opening Finals


MANHATTAN BEACH, Calif. — The Elite 11 concluded with a two-day 7-on-7 tournament in partnership with The Opening, which featured 20 of the nation’s best quarterbacks and a talented crew of pass-catchers and defenders broken down into four teams.

Rivals National Recruiting analyst Sam Spiegelman was on hand for all of the week’s actions. Here are five takeaways from the event:

ELITE 11 CARRYOVERS SHINE

Among the top-performing signal-callers during The Opening portion of this West Coast event included some familiar names who turned heads early on in the quarterback challenges. Cade Klubnik, a Rivals100 Clemson commitment, was named the Elite 11 MVP and he cemented that feat with a strong outing in the 7-on-7 portion. Klubnik was dealing; he sees the field and processes quickly. He has enough juice to make passes anywhere on the field and has a confidence about him that moves the needle.

Additionally, Devin Brown was also in the conversation as the best quarterback from the 7-on-7 side of things. He didn’t shy away from taking shots downfield and was excellent at squeezing throws into tight windows. LSU-bound Walker Howard and Ohio State-bound Quinn Ewers were two of the better deep-ball passers from the week. Baylor commitment Zach Pyron was impressive with his ball placement at times while Florida commitment Nick Evers showcased the strong arms and the poise leading the blue team to a buzzer-beating victory late on Saturday at the Finals.

*****  

TIGHT ENDS TAKE CENTER STAGE

An offense in 2021 must be equipped with one or a few mismatches on offense. Oscar Delp, Duce Robinson and even an import from Sweden fit that bill during The Opening Finals.

Robinson, a Florida State legacy, was fantastic making receptions in the middle of the field and stretching the seams. He looks like a power forward easily navigating between the hashes and he’s naturally athletic with strong hands. He makes for a colossal mismatch and was an easy target for his quarterbacks.

The same goes for Delp, who has been very good throughout the offseason at various events and that continued out in Cali. The Rivals250 talent made a handful of catches in traffic and showcased his big catch radius. Delp also was able to get open quickly as an easy red-zone option.

Theodor Melin Ohrstrom, a 2023 tight end from Rig Academy in Sweden, also impressed. Ohrstrom hauled in multiple touchdowns and worked the middle of the field and was a popular target by the goal line. Ohio State and Arizona State are a few of the offers that arrived for the European standout, who proved he can definitely play ball at a Power Five level.

*****  

BIG TEN COMMITS SHINE ON BOTH SIDES

The Ohio State contingent was well-represented on the West Coast. Ewers was far from the only future Buckeye in attendance. He was joined by fellow five-star linebacker CJ Hicks, as well as Rivals250 wide receiver Kyion Graves. Hicks was fantastic during 1-on-1s and again patrolling the middle of the field in the 7-on-7 portion. Graves has a knack for getting open over and over and flashed some chemistry with his future signal-caller. Graves does well stretching the field and can make plays after the catch with ease.

Defensively, Rivals250 Penn State athlete commitment Mekhi Flowers was brilliant. A future safety in the Big Ten, Flowers was fluid playing over the top. He was good in coverage on the opening session and was able to make a handful of key plays on Saturday, including a pass breakup on fourth-and-goal. He can cover a ton of ground and is an instinctual playmaker.

*****  

WEST COAST TALENT DOMINATES OFFENSIVELY

Rivals100 WR Tetairoa McMillan had a claim as the top receiver in attendance. The California native showed off elite hands, a colossal catch radius and made his athleticism obvious with wins on jump-balls in traffic and in the red zone. A top target for both USC and UCLA, T-Mac can get open quickly, make plays after the fact and challenge downfield, and even double coverage wasn’t enough to slow down his production.

Oklahoma-bound Raleek Brown has some Clyde Edwards-Helaire to him. He’s small, but explosive with straight-line speed and a mismatch if left alone in single coverage. He should put up video game-esque numbers in Lincoln Riley‘s offense.

Three-star Arizona athlete Javen Jacobs is underranked. Playing in the slot, Jacobs showed toughness making catches in traffic and was super shifty as well. He’s sudden with a ton of speed and can help an offense as a receiver or out of the backfield.

One-time UCLA commitment AJ Jones continued his strong offseason with a few deep touchdowns grabs from both Walker Howard and a game-winning catch from Nick Evers. Jones showed off his ability to challenge downfield and be effective in the red zone. His stocks up after the summer with Arizona and Arizona State monitoring.

Class of 2023 wide receiver Jurrion Dickey was a Day 2 standout. The soon-to-be junior from San Jose, Calif., made circus catches along the sideline, had juice after the catch and was effective by the red zone. He showed off some speed to get vertical and a second gear once the balls in his hands.

*****  

2024 DB IS A NATIONAL TALENT

It didn’t take long to locate Omillio Agard on the field this past week. The class of 2024 defensive back — who will enter his sophomore season this fall — was spectacular in coverage both days of the tournament. At 5-foot-11 and 160 pounds, Agard stuck to receivers’ back hips and made multiple breakups and walked away from a handful of interceptions. As an underclassmen, he was a top performer and one of the best overall players of the event.

To no surprise, Agard entered the week with early overtures from USC, Texas A&M, Miami, Penn State, LSU and Florida State, and that offer sheet will likely continue to grow as Agard continues to compete under the national eye.

*****

QUICK HITTERS

… Rivals100 Florida commitment Julian Humphrey clocked a 4.38 40 and took home Fastest Man honors. Humphrey was also excellent in coverage with multiple passes defensed during the tournament. His speed should play well in the SEC

… Four-star 2023 Coppell (Texas) defensive back Braxton Myers was another Texas-based recruit to impress. On Saturday, Myers came up with a pick-six and a breakup on fourth-down. He’s seen Arkansas, Oklahoma, Washington, Georgia Tech and Cincinnati this summer.

… Three-star Kentucky commitment Andre Stewart was really good in coverage as well. The Peach State corner had several pass breakups and consistently put himself in a good position to make plays all over the field, especially defending downfield.

… Rivals100 running back Trevor Etienne was outstanding out of the backfield. He’s got better hands than his older brother Travis, a recent-first round pick of the Jacksonville Jaguars, and has been lights out this offseason. Clemson, Georgia, Alabama and LSU all covet the younger Etienne.

… Georgia defensive backs Rodrick Pleasant and Terian Williams also had picks. The Peach State standouts went about it differently, as Pleasant jumped a route in the middle of the field while Williams came down with his interception on a tipped ball.

… Florida wide receivers Jayden Gibson and William Fowles both impressed as well. Gibson was one of the nation’s biggest climbers in the recent rankings update and he showed off a well-rounded skill-set at The Opening. He’s an absolute playmaker. Fowles, too, has a big frame (6-foot-2, 190 pounds) and was too physical and athletic to contain for long.

… Rivals100 2023 defensive back AJ Harris saw spot duty at corner on Friday and played over the top at safety on Saturday. Regardless of position, Harris shined. He had multiple pass breakups and was explosive out of his breaks and anticipating throws. He’s position versatile and a true playmaker on the back end. Ohio State may be a hard team to beat here, but look out for Georgia, Alabama and Clemson, too.

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