Sunday, July 8, 2012
By Damon Sayles
BEAVERTON, Ore. -- The Opening roster looked like a pre-introduction for major BCS colleges.
USC? Eight commits in attendance. Florida, Georgia, Michigan and Notre Dame? Seven commits each. Ohio State and Florida State? Six players apiece. Texas and Alabama? Five each.
While several players were either reuniting with or meeting future college teammates, a few players were operating as solo representatives for their respective schools. Players like defensive tackle Christian LaCouture (College Station, Texas/A&M Consolidated), offensive tackle Cameron Hunt (Corona, Calif./Centennial), linebacker Holland Fisher (Midlothian, Va./Manchester) and cornerback Colin Spencer (Dallas/Woodrow Wilson) wore their school's colors and logos and used their play as a unique version of self-promotion.
Thirteen athletes completed participation at The Opening on Sunday as the lone representative for their program. For Fisher, a four-star Virginia Tech commit, the four-day event was an opportunity for him to give the Hokies as much pub as possible.
"A lot of these guys are from other schools, and they're talking this or that about their school," said Fisher, one of 12 Virginia Tech commits total. "They're going to be my competition for the next few years. I feel like it's my job to put Virginia Tech on the map while I'm here."
Fisher and Spencer, a three-star Kansas commit, were 7-on-7 teammates while at The Opening. They were able to connect as solo-representative commits. Spencer is one of only six total Kansas commits -- compared to 24 total commits from Texas A&M, 22 from Michigan or 18 from Alabama and Florida.
Spencer is a The Opening invite in the minority. He had only one offer from Kansas -- compared to several athletes with multiple offers -- and jumped on the chance to play in the Big 12. Being the lone KU representative didn't faze Spencer. If anything, it served as a conversation starter.
"A lot of people have asked where I'm going, and I'll tell them loud and proud that I'm going to Kansas," Spencer said. "It gives me the chance to show there are great kids everywhere and not just at one school or in one part of the country."
LaCouture, a three-star Nebraska commit, said being the only Cornhusker in attendance has allowed him to do some side recruiting. There are several players at The Opening who are still uncommitted, and LaCouture took advantage by speaking to players he felt would fit in well at Nebraska.
"I'm out here to do my job, but I'm also here to help recruit for Nebraska," said LaCouture, one of 12 total Huskers commits. "We have a lot of down time after sessions. We'll just talk football and about the recruiting process. It's been pretty good so far.
"It's really all about showing what your school's all about."
Hunt committed to Cal and became the Golden Bears' seventh overall commit on Saturday. He is Cal's only representative in Oregon but said he's been in recruiting mode since officially announcing on ESPNU.
Hunt said he's been pitching the advantages of Cal, such as the athletic and academic advantages the school has to offer. He added that The Opening is the perfect place for a solo commit to play salesman, as there's only one person to give the spiel for the program.
"Some guys are like, 'Why are you going to Cal?' I'll tell them the academics are great there, and that's why I really chose it," Hunt said. "There are brand-new facilities, brand-new field, brand-new weight room, everything. They're really upgrading up there. Plus, I felt really comfortable with the coaching staff.
"With me being the only Cal player here, I know a couple of players who like Cal a lot. It gets me in a recruiting mode."
Fisher admitted that because of strength in numbers, recruiting can take its toll on players in his position as a solo. There are positives and negatives in being a solo at The Opening, but he said the positives outweigh the negatives.
"I really don't see any negatives with this," Fisher said. "It's a great honor to be here, and all the other guys have been pushing me to do better. It's also your chance to show what you can do and why your school wanted you."
Spencer added: "I just tell them about how great my experiences were. The players and coaches at Kansas are great. This has helped me say how I feel like the program's back on the rise. I tell everybody that's why I chose it."