Ten invited to The Opening
Several stars from the ESPN 150 shine at ESPN's Wide World of Sports
Orlando NFTC: Vernon Hargreaves Interview
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Orlando Nike Football Training Camp promised to be one of the more star-studded events during the camp season, and it more than lived up to its billing.
Columbia (Lake City, Fla.) offensive lineman Laremy Tunsil came to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex on Sunday with the goal of receiving an invitation to The Opening for the second straight year.
Orlando NFTC Related Links• Orlando NFTC recap
• Orlando All-Nike Camp team
• Orlando NFTC recruiting notes
• Demarcus Walker's decision looms
• Laremy Tunsil interview
• Vernon Hargreaves interview
• OL vs. DL one-on-ones, Part I
• OL vs. DL one-on-ones, Part II
• RB vs. LB one-on-ones
• WR vs. LB one-on-ones, Part I
• WR vs. DB one-on-ones, Part II
• The Opening invites
• Photo gallery
• Behind-the-scenes gallery
And after another strong performance, the third-ranked prospect in the ESPN 150 will be heading to Beaverton, Ore., again this July.
"It's very exciting to go back and it's another opportunity for me to prove that I'm one of the best players in the nation," Tunsil said. "Even though I got a little sick last year it was a great experience and I look forward to doing even more this time around."
Tunsil was one of nine ESPN 150 prospects invited to The Opening.
Five-star cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III of Wharton (Tampa, Fla.) will also head to Oregon and will be joined by four-star prospects Demarcus Walker of Sandalwood (Jacksonville, Fla.), Leon McQuay of Armwood (Seffner, Fla.), Greg Bryant of American Heritage (Delray Beach, Fla.), Ryan Green of St. Pete Catholic (St. Petersburg, Fla.), Ahmad Fulwood of Bishop Kenny (Jacksonville, Fla.), Quinton Powell of Mainland (Daytona Beach, Fla.) and Marcell Harris of Dr. Phillips (Orlando, Fla.).
However, of the 10 players invited to the elite event on Sunday, one emerged from obscurity to become the star of the afternoon. Madison County (Madison, Fla.) offensive lineman Ira Denson (6-foot-4, 320 pounds) put on a dominating display in the one-on-one pass-blocking drills and took home the offensive line MVP.
Denson took on all challengers and did some of his best work against ESPN 150 defensive lineman Caleb Brantley, who dominated the early part of the drills until running into Denson.
"I was the definite underdog out here today," Denson said. "I've really worked hard to get better and I wanted to bring my best game out here today.
"I knew there were going to a lot of tough challengers, [Brantley] is going to Florida and I know some of the guys have a lot more offers than I do, but hopefully that will start to change."
For the record, Denson says he has offers from Florida International and Western Kentucky.
"My coach always says every time I'm on the field it's a chance to make someone remember your name," Denson said. "Today was a great day for me. I have an MVP award to take home."
Denson has never been on a plane before and his first trip will be almost 3,000 miles from home.
"I've heard from people about plane rides and how smooth they are," Denson said. "We'll see in July."
Green is best of the backs
Green outlasted Bryant to take home the running backs' MVP award Sunday and the 5-9, 180-pound junior showed just as much with his blocking as he did with his running ability.
During the running back/linebacker one-on-ones Green was able to get the best of Powell and then proceeded to give him somewhat of a tomahawk chop. Green is undecided, with Florida State and Notre Dame thought to be at the top of his list.
"I was just having a little bit of fun because Powell was wearing those Gator socks," Green said. "It was a real good battle, he's a great athlete."
Green, who rushed for more than 1,500 yards as a junior, also showed plenty of admiration for his toughest competitor on Sunday.
"Greg Bryant is a real good back and you know whenever he's at a camp with you a lot of eyes are going to be on him," Green said. "It was close and I'm just honored that I received the MVP."
Next up for Green is a little rest before the start of spring football.
"I've been traveling a lot on unofficial visits and running track so I'm pretty tired right now," Green said. "I'm going to shut it down a little and get ready for spring football and the summer."
Green said he will probably do camps at Florida State, Florida and Ole Miss. He is also hoping to take another unofficial to Notre Dame over the summer.
Washington wins DL award on final surge
Jones (Orlando, Fla.) defensive lineman Devin Washington admitted to watching some of Tunsil's highlight film before challenging him in the one-on-one drills Sunday.
"I told him I had done a little scouting and saw a couple of things there," Washington said. "Mainly I saw that if he got his hands on me I was going to be in trouble.
"Everyone knew he was coming and he was coming here to dominate. He beat me a couple of times but I wanted to keep trying because you don't want to go against the smallest linemen, you want the biggest one. I did a couple of magic tricks and it worked. I used my hands well and that's my biggest strength."
Somehow the 6-3, 225-pound Washington avoided the grip of his much larger opponent and ran away with the defensive line MVP award.
"It was a really something I worked for today and I take pride in all of these camps," Washington said. "There's so much good competition out here in the state that whenever you get the MVP at an event it was earned."
Four-star defensive lineman Jordan Sherit of Hillsborough (Tampa, Fla.) was hoping to get several one-on-one reps against Tunsil, but after their first battle the 6-4, 245-pound junior fell on his shoulder and had to see the trainers.
He returned with his shoulder heavily wrapped in ice.
"It's disappointing because this camp was real important to me," Sherit said. "Not sure how bad it is right now because it's pretty sore. I will find out soon."
Miramar (Fla.) linebacker Jermaine Grace tried to go on a tender hamstring and re-aggravated the injury in position drills.
"They suggested I not do anything else for the rest of the camp because my hamstring is so sensitive," Grace said. "I should be fine for the start of spring football."
• Quarterback MVP Asiantii Woulard of Winter Park (Fla.) continued to show he has improved at the position. Woulard (6-3, 200) has always been known as a good runner but is starting to show significant development as a passer. "I'm really trying to get better at everything -- accuracy, arm strength, throwing on the run, you name it," Woulard said. "So this is a nice honor and lets me know that all this work is paying off."
• Johnell Barnes of Dunbar (Fort Myers, Fla.) emerged from tough competition to take the MVP award for wide receivers. Barnes (5-11, 165) has recently seen his recruitment pick up with offers from Northwestern, Duke, Western Kentucky, UConn and UMass. "I really felt great going into today's camp so I'm happy to have come out with the MVP," Barnes said. "I'm still learning a lot about the game and I'm only 16 so this was a big deal to win this over a lot of great receivers."
• McQuay edged Hargreaves for the defensive backs' MVP award, but the nation's top-rated cornerback was still happy with his performance. "It was a very fast-paced event and I thought I did a lot of good things," Hargreaves said. "I'm happy for Leon because he's my friend and my teammate on Team Tampa, so [the award] stays in the family."