Last week played host to one of my favorite weeks of the recruiting calendar: The Opening Finals. Last year, Clemson sent just a few players, however, this Summer there was not a school in the country who sent more even with 3 commits eventually not attending. The commits that did go almost all showed out, drawing praise from scouts and coaches alike. Since there was such a heavy Clemson presence in Frisco for the event, there’s a lot to unpack.
First, CB Fred Davis, who made the All-Opening team according to 24/7 Sports. Davis proved to be a lockdown corner who rarely if ever got beat during both 7on7 play, and 1v1s. He also had a pick-six vs. South Carolina QB commit Luke Doty. While we didn’t get Davis’ testing numbers, the Floridian acquitted himself well all week and could see a ratings bump in the near future. Currently just one spot off of 5-star status per 24/7’s Composite rank, there’s a strong chance he re-earns his coveted 5th star.
Coming into the week, the most anticipated position group among Clemson fans in terms of invitees had to be the Defensive Line. The commits did not disappoint, and even with top-10 prospect Myles Murphy out with an ankle injury placed 2 Defensive Lineman into the final 5. Bryan Bresee and DT Tre Williams not only made the final 5, but the duo also made the same All-Opening team discussed in the paragraph prior. Incredibly, Clemson could have had even more lineman in the final 5 had either Murphy participated in the event at all, or had DT commit Demonte Capehart not been injured for the final day.
To dive more in-depth on the DL commits, I was surprised by how well Tre Williams performed. Despite his already lofty ranking (currently top 100), he showed he may have what it takes to climb even higher, showcasing impressive quickness all week at the Opening.
In terms of players who repped purely on the interior, Williams was probably the most impressive. Capehart also looked good, he’s a fantastic athlete that split his reps both on the interior and outside (Capehart projects inside). His best battles were probably with former South Carolina commit Isaiah Walker, however, Capehart got the best of the Floridian, as he did against almost everyone else he went up against on a consistent basis.
Depending on who you ask, you may hear differing reviews on Bryan Bresee’s Opening performance. He tested exceptionally well once again, however, Bresee lost more 1on1 reps over the course of the week than he won (13 wins, 14 losses). I’m here to tell you that you to pretty much ignore that. Bresee took nearly all of his reps at Defensive End despite weighing in at 298 pounds. He will play almost exclusively along the interior in Clemson’s 4-3 scheme, and did not lose a rep to a single interior Offensive Lineman all week. There is only one player in the country who could potentially claim the #1 spot over Bresee in my book, and that’s Justin Flowe.
Finally, while the DL commits were expected to steal the show, arguably no Tiger had a better week than 4-star OT commit Walker Parks. Everything about Parks stood out this week, but most notably of all were his Testing numbers, his reps in 1v1s, the edge he showed, and the ability to take to all of the coaching he’s received this Spring at camps. Parks has made huge strides as a player these past few months and it showed in Frisco. Where many would shy away from going up against the physicality of Bryan Bresee, Parks relished it. While he was embarrassed on a few reps, Parks won his fair share while showing off his nasty streak in the process.
As for his testing #’s... wow. He was the only OL at the Opening to run a sub 5 second 40-yard dash (4.91), and had the second best shuttle time (4.5) of any OL in attendance. Shuttle times in particular have shown an incredibly high correlation with a player ending up in the NFL. Add all of that together and you have maybe the most athletic OL at the entire event heading for a very hefty ratings bump.
Other Miscellaneous Opening notes:
While DJ Uiagalelei elected to miss the Opening, a “no-name” prospect became a name to know last week. CJ Stroud, a 3-star QB from California dominated the Opening, winning the Elite 11. Stroud is jam-packed with potential, and will see his rating skyrocket soon.
I hate to dwell on prospects Clemson missed on, but Julian Fleming looked like the best WR in the country last week. He was not a high-volume receiver, but when he touched the ball it was highly consequential. Obviously, he is one the Tigers will look back on and be very disappointed about missing on.
I have never seen a Tight End class like this. It’s loaded with athletic freakshows and they all flashed last week, however, I wanted to note two in particular. Arik Gilbert first, who is clearly the cream of the crop, and could even attend Clemson’s cookout later this month. Gilbert is an OJ Howard level prospect at TE, and has all the tools to be a first round talent in just a few years time. The second TE is Darnell Washington, who is as physically unique a prospect as can be at nearly 6’8 with freakish testing numbers. Both Gilbert and Washington are Clemson targets, but both are likely headed to the SEC.
Finally, Clemson LB target Noah Sewell drew rave reviews for his incredible ability to move at his size despite being nearly 270 pounds. Clemson took a swing at Sewell on a visit earlier this Summer, however, it appears Sewell will be either playing with his brother at Oregon, or in the SEC. UGA in particular made a huge impression on Sewell, and it appears the Dawgs are the best positioned to steal Sewell from Oregon. This is notable because similar to Clemson, UGA is really tight on spots in its class as well. UGA can only take one more LB in this class, and it appears they’ve set their sights on Sewell. UGA also happens to be one of Clemson’s top competitors for a certain LB from California; a LB who has been trending Orange behind the scenes. I’ll let y’all put two and two together on that one.