This week marks the start of the best high school prospects in America showing off their skills in “The Opening”. Stars of high school football travel to Nike world headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon to go against each other for 4 days of competition. Why is the event so important to college coaches? Well here’s why.
All the Best Recruits in One Place
There are only 3 times a year you can collect the talent of over 150 of the top rated high school recruits in the nation. The Under Armour All-American Game, The US Army All-American Game, and The Opening. With ESPNU covering the event for 4 days, as well as every major sports outlet sending representatives to observe and rank all of the action, everyone there must compete at their very best in order to move up or avoid sliding in the overall rankings
Players Attempt to Recruit Each Other
“Hey me and this player have great chemistry on the field, and he’s telling me that we could do this for 3 years at this university. I should probably take a harder look at them.” Yes players are not just here to have a good time and prove who is the best athlete. They are also there to see some of the top talent in the county and see who they can convince to come join them at their school. All of these commitments so far are just verbal commitments, so there really is no loyalty at this point. If a player is verbally committed, he can easily change his mind and, as we all know, 17 year old’s are not the most best at making sure decisions at that age. Coaches with strong commitments from players are hoping they show up and start recruiting for their university without the coaches doing much of anything.
Players Like to Commit on a Big Stage
Have you ever noticed that when you put a camera in someones face, they are bound to say the first thing that comes to mind? Well that is what some of these coaches are hoping on this week. Players love the glory of getting to be on camera and a few of them will make their announcement of where they will be playing football next year. With this kind of early knowledge, coaches can then focus on some of the other recruits instead of waiting for someone else to come in a scoop them up. These players that commit now will also have a huge weight lifted off their shoulder and do not have to worry about if they are one of the lucky few ESPN will send a camera crew out to for his announcement. They get their moment of fame, and get to relieve a lot of stress from other coaches around the country. Sounds like a win-win
Who is the ELITE 11 MVP
This might seem silly for some, but the ELITE 11 MVP holds just as much weight as being the Gatorade National Player of the Year. This title has boosted recruiting for some of the long shot winners, and has solidified others as being the best signal caller in high school football. With NFL like training for 4 days, the coaches and staff find out who could be the next Andrew Luck, Peyton Manning, or Tom Brady.
Who is the Best Overall Athlete
The SPARQ rating is a system that takes the 40 yard dash, 20 yard shuttle, vertical jump, and power throw and gives them a numerical value based on how well a player performs in each of these categories. The player who has the highest combined point total is considered the SPARQ rating King of that year. It might be an empty title but an athlete with a great performance could open up a coaches eye to his potential. This isn’t quite to level that the ELITE 11 MVP is, but whoever wins this can walk around proudly and say I am the best high school athlete in the US. Well maybe besides the person who wins the decathlon.
All-in-all this is a great event for high school football players that have trained most of their lives to get to this moment. They have a chance to compete against the best, which does not happen on a week to week basis. With a good performance here, a players ranking can improve and they can be seen by colleges that were not previously on their radar. It’s an opportunity for young men to get to know each other. It’s a chance for some of these young men to travel outside of their state for the first time. It’s an opportunity of a lifetime, and it is a coaches dream for recruiting.