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Monday, July 1, 2013
Lessons Learned: SPARQ championships

By RecruitingNation

BEAVERTON, Ore. -- The Opening got underway on Monday with SPARQ testing, as the nation's top football players competed in the 40-yard dash, vertical jump, 20-yard short shuttle and kneeling power ball throw. The 10 best returned for the finals, with Speedy Noil (New Orleans/Edna Karr) taking home the championship. Here's a closer look at what we learned during the day:

Speedy is, well, speedy

Speedy Noil
Speedy Noil lived up to his name during SPARQ testing, posting the second-best score of all time.
Coming into The Opening, Noil was a prospect whom everyone was excited to see. Noil is ranked as the No. 8 prospect in the country, but his athleticism and speed were the two aspects that people were hoping to see.

He didn't disappoint on Monday, recording a 153.51 SPARQ score, which was the second-highest score ever behind Mike Mitchell from the 2012 SPARQ Finals.

Noil ran a 4.4 40, threw the power ball 41 feet and wowed everyone watching when he jumped 45.3 inches in the vertical jump.

And as his No. 8 overall ranking shows, Noil is far from just a freak athlete who can’t play.

At 6-foot, 176 pounds, Noil holds offers from Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Florida State, Ohio State, Oregon, Texas and USC, among others. The ESPN Hot Board has the five-star prospect predicted to LSU, but he remains uncommitted at this point. -- Tom VanHaaren

Cameron Robinson has a big fan

Five-star offensive tackle Cameron Robinson (West Monroe, La./West Monroe) sure lived up to the hype during the one-on-one portion of the morning practice session.

He faced off against top defensive ends, including Jalyn Holmes (Norfolk, Va./Lake Taylor), Solomon Thomas (Coppell, Texas/Coppell) and Andrew Williams (McDonough, Ga./Eagles Landing) and won a majority of his battles.

Former Ohio State and NFL offensive lineman LeCharles Bentley, who now owns The O-line Performance Center in Scottsdale, Ariz., had glowing things to say about Robinson.

"The one young man that stood out was Cameron Robinson," Bentley said. "Look, I don't know what school he's going to, I don't get into the recruiting aspect. I don't like saying this, but that's a first-round pick. That's the type of body, athleticism and player that a team would love to put on that left side and leave him there for the next 10 to 15 years.

"The one thing that intrigues me about him, he's so quiet. He's the kid that you walk into a room and he's very unassuming but someway, somehow, when you get him on the football field, he just turns on. As you can see, there's a level of intensity and fight there that you just can't coach. That's innate and he has that, everything else he doesn't have you can teach, you can develop." -- Derek Tyson
Two clips of OL Cameron Robinson against DE Soloman Thomas

— Tom VanHaaren
(@TomVH) July 1, 2013


Adoree’ Jackson has high standards

Track is very important to five-star cornerback Adoree’ Jackson (Gardena, Calif./Junipero Serra), and it was easy to see why at Monday’s SPARQ testing. The nation’s No. 5 player sped through the blocks and ran a 4.44 40.

For most recruits, that would be a great time, but the result left Jackson unimpressed and disappointed. He felt as though he could have done better and noted that he was hoping to run in the 4.3 range.

Jackson won't be in the finals for the SPARQ championship, but he still has plenty of opportunities to shine at The Opening. He will get another chance to showcase his sprinter’s speed during 7-on-7 play later in the week and could help his team on offense or defense.

While Jackson clearly has big-time football talent, another goal for the talented prospect is to one day make the Olympics in an event like the long jump. So it's understandable why he would be disappointed with not securing the best 40 time on the day. -- Tom VanHaaren

Southeast represents in SPARQ finals

Monday's morning SPARQ competition consisted of four football-specific events: 40-yard dash, vertical jump, 20-yard short shuttle and kneeling power ball throw. The top 10 performers returned later in the day to compete for the SPARQ championship.

And while Louisiana's Noil stole the show with his performance, he was far from the only one. The states with the most representation were Texas, Georgia and North Carolina, with two players each.

Georgia running back commit Nick Chubb (Cedartown, Ga./Cedartown), LSU safety commit Ed Paris (Arlington, Texas/Timberview), Ohio State wide receiver commit Terry McLaurin (Indianapolis/Cathedral) and Notre Dame running back commit Elijah Hood (Charlotte, N.C./Charlotte Catholic) were the committed prospects who competed in the finals.

Other finalists included five-star defensive end Lorenzo Carter (Norcross, Ga./Norcross), four-star defensive back Tony Brown (Beaumont, Texas/Ozen), four-star receiver Braxton Berrios (Raleigh, N.C./Leesville Road), local linebacker Joey Alfieri (Portland, Ore./Jesuit) and three-star safety Trey Marshall (Lake City, Fla./Columbia). -- Derek Tyson

Buckeyes, Buckeyes everywhere
After the SPARQ testing Monday at The Opening, parents and media began to flood the field. One herd of parents, decked out in Ohio State gear from head to toe, made a beeline to the large group of Buckeyes commitments who were packing up.

The groups -- both commits and parents -- were large enough to catch the attention of quarterback Manny Wilkins. That’s no surprise, as Ohio State has nine pledges overall at The Opening.

“Man, there are Buckeyes everywhere,” said Wilkins, an Arizona State commitment. “I’m serious, man. Everywhere you turn, there’s somebody with a Buckeye hat, Buckeye shirt or gear on. They’re here on the field. They’re there at the hotel. Seriously, there are Buckeyes everywhere.”

Undecided running back Charles Buchannon (Pleasant Grove, Ala./Pleasant Grove) agreed.

He was walking around the media session holding his arms up in the shape of an “O” because he, too, noticed there were a lot of Buckeyes commitments at the event. Buchannon ended up just feet away from Ohio State linebacker commitment Dante Booker when he was doing an interview.

“Buckeyes are taking over the world,” Buchannon said. -- Jeremy Crabtree