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Thursday, July 4, 2013
Lessons Learned: Best of The Opening

By Derek Tyson and Tom VanHaaren

BEAVERTON, Ore. -- The Opening has concluded and it did not disappoint. The top prospects in the nation were invited to Nike headquarters to display their ability and compete against the best of the best.

RecruitingNation was on hand for every event to take in the happenings throughout the week. Here are a few storylines:

Who committed

Florida State landed two in-state prospects during the final day of The Opening on Wednesday: four-star offensive tackle Corey Martinez (Tampa, Fla./Tampa Catholic) and three-star safety Trey Marshall (Lake City, Fla./Columbia). Marshall was a finalist for the SPARQ national championships where he posted a 40-yard-dash time of 4.34 seconds. ESPN 300 linebacker Dillon Bates (Ponte Vedra, Fla./Ponte Vedra), son of former Tennessee Volunteers and Dallas Cowboys safety Bill Bates, verbally committed to the Vols. Four-star linebacker D.J. Calhoun (El Cerrito, Calif./El Cerrito) verbally committed to USC over UCLA.

Top five offensive linemen

Da'Shawn Hand
This class of linemen that includes five-star DE Da'Shawn Hand is something to watch.
The coaches at The Opening named their list of top five offensive linemen for the week. It came as no surprise that Cameron Robinson (West Monroe, La./West Monroe) made the list as he dominated defensive linemen all week. Robinson didn't even have pads on, but still terrorized the oncoming pass-rushers.

Center and Alabama commit J.C. Hassenauer (Woodbury, Minn./East Ridge) also made the list and during one rep completely body-slammed the defender. He looked strong and sound in his reps, taking on some of the best defensive linemen in the country.

Damien Mama (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco) is another interior lineman who was among the top five. The No. 3 guard in the nation showed a powerful punch in drills knocking the defensive players off course on a regular basis. The final two linemen on the list were Rod Taylor (Jackson, Miss./Callaway) and Toa Lobendahn (La Habra, Calif./La Habra).

Top five defensive linemen

The defensive line coaches at The Opening released their list of the top five defensive linemen. To no one's surprise, five-star prospects Da'Shawn Hand (Woodbridge, Va./Woodbridge) and new Virginia commit Andrew Brown (Chesapeake, Va./Oscar Smith), were among the five. Both had impressive performances over the course of the event. Defensive end Chad Thomas (Miami/Booker T. Washington) turned a lot of heads, especially after dominating a 1-on-1 matchup with Mama, who was one of the top offensive linemen at The Opening.

ESPN 300 prospects Ainuu Taua (Lompoc, Calif./Lompoc) and Tennessee commit Joe Henderson (Shaker Heights, Ohio/Shaker Heights) were also on the list.

7-on-7 tournament winners

The Field Generals, led by quarterback Sean White (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./University School), defeated Alpha Pro 21-14 in the championship game of the 7-on-7 portion of The Opening.

White, with pinpoint accuracy, threw touchdown passes to Malachi Dupre (River Ridge, La./John Curtis Christian), Austin Roberts (Carmel, Ind./Carmel) and Braxton Berrios and was named tournament MVP after the championship game. With an impressive performance this week, the uncommitted quarterback is sure to see his stock soar.

All-tournament team

The prospects took part in two days of 7-on-7 play to see which team would come out on top. The Field Generals, led by quarterback Sean White, came out on top 21-14 edging out signal caller Will Grier and team Alpha Pro.

There were some spectacular plays made throughout the tournament and prospects that stood out among the rest. The Opening coaches named their all-tournament team, with players who excelled on both days.

Safety Quin Blanding (Virginia Beach, Va./Bayside) was the first name called and rightfully so. Tight end Roberts, Henry Mondeaux (Portland, Ore./Jesuit), Adarius Pickett (El Cerrito, Calif./El Cerrito) and Budda Baker (Bellevue, Wash./Bellevue) also made the team.

Dupre also made the team after an impressive week. The No. 2 wide receiver in the country got the opportunity to display his abilities, something he doesn't always get to do in his high school's wing-T offense.

Finally, 2015 defensive back Derwin James (Auburndale, Fla./Auburndale) was named to the all-tournament team. The lone 2015 prospect to earn the honor was phenomenal against the older prospects.

These few standouts played their way into the top list and were rewarded for their play.