The elite eight
Eight get Opening invites, while Ramsey earns Elite 11 nod at Charlotte NFTC
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Eight more prospects punched their tickets to The Opening, while another proved himself elite at Sunday's Charlotte Nike Football Training Camp.
The Opening invites were linebackers Larenz Bryant of Charlotte (N.C.) Vance, Holland Fisher of Midlothian (Va.) Manchester and Peter Kalambayi of Matthews (N.C.) Butler; receivers Ryan Switzer of Charleston (W.Va.) George Washington and Tramel Terry of Goose Creek (S.C.); defensive end Carl Lawson of Milton (Ga.); tight end Josh McNeil of Durham (N.C.) Hillside; and quarterback Brice Ramsey of Kingsland (Ga.) Camden County.
Charlotte NFTC Related Links
• Charlotte NFTC recap
• Ramsey gets Elite 11 finals invite
• Lewis Neal's wild ride
• Aggadoria Bowers back after ACL tear
• Charlotte NFTC All-Camp team
• Carl Lawson still being pursued
• The Opening invites
• Carl Lawson interview
• Tramel Terry 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. DB one-on-ones
• Photo gallery
• Behind-the-scenes gallery
• Headshots gallery
All will participate in the competition held in Beaverton, Ore., in July.
Ramsey will be doing more than that, however. After being named the quarterback MVP at Sunday's camp, the Georgia commit secured an invite to the Elite 11 quarterback camp this summer.
"It was exactly what I set out to do," said Ramsey, rated the No. 9 pocket passer by ESPN and No. 110 overall recruit in the ESPN 150. "I came out knowing what was at stake and took full advantage of the opportunity. I can't wait to compete this summer."
Ramsey's closest competition was Riley Ferguson from Matthews (N.C.) Butler. The two have become friends since competing in the Elite 11 regional in Atlanta in April. Ferguson said he thought the two were neck-and-neck throughout the camp but had no qualms about Ramsey's trio of awards.
"Well deserved," Ferguson said. "He's a great quarterback. I thought me and him were doing the same today. I knew it was going to be between me and him. All my congrats to him."
The Opening is well imprinted on the minds of the best college football prospects in the nation. Bryant, in particular, was well aware of the annual event, even though he wasn't able to watch the telecast last year.
"Best feeling of my life," the nation's No. 12 inside linebacker said of being selected. "This is the proudest moment. I can't even talk. I was so shocked. I didn't know it was coming. I haven't stopped smiling."
Kalambayi's performance on Sunday, specifically his footwork, secured his invitation.
"I think I did really good today," he said. "I think I was up there with at least the best linebackers for sure. I think I did better in the bag drills."
Kalambayi has also proven better in pass coverage.
"Today, I only got beat once in coverage," he said. "Last year, I got beat multiple times. The year before that, it was worse."
The key to covering running backs, Kalambayi said, is practicing against receivers on his high school team.
"When you're used to covering receivers, it's easier to cover running backs," he said.
Lawson, who was named the MVP for the defensive line, said he was appreciative of the honors but questioned his own performance.
"Honestly, I felt like I could have been much more dominant," the No. 5 recruit in the ESPN 150 said. "I'm coming off of spring practice and I'm tired."
Fisher, a four-star prospect, learned all about The Opening from his good friend, Joel Caleb, who attended the event last year before signing with Virginia Tech.
"He said it was an amazing feeling to play with the best of the best," said Fisher, the nation's No. 117 recruit. "I've been out here working my butt off trying to get this invitation. It's a great feeling that hard work pays off."
Ferguson showed no hesitancy in throwing passes in tight spots -- often completing them -- in Sunday's camp.
"I definitely like to show people that I can fit it in there, but it's not always about that," the nation's No. 94 recruit said. "I like to show people that I can throw that pretty, spiral touch pass. I love that, too. I just go out there and show all my abilities and get everything out of it."
One of those passes Ferguson threw into a tight window forced Terry, a fellow four-star prospect, to slide to the turf in order to make the catch. That resulted in a softball-sized strawberry on Terry's right leg.
"It looked pretty nasty," Ferguson said with a sly grin.
As if that wasn't bad enough, Terry dove again just a few minutes later. The spill pushed back the bandage on his leg and reopened the wound.
What did Ferguson say when he saw that?
"Oh my goodness," he exclaimed.
Ferguson was also taken aback by sophomore quarterback Will Grier, who held up against the steep competition of signal-callers.
"I thought he was doing really good," Ferguson said of the prospect from Davidson (N.C.) Day. "A young quarterback, he has all the intangibles. Just keep working hard."
Meanwhile, Connor Mitch from Raleigh (N.C.) Wakefield was rarely outdone by Ramsey and Ferguson. Mitch showed off his footwork and passing ability throughout the day.
"It was fun to compete out there," the four-star prospect said. "That's what you look for is kids that want to go out there and compete and go against the best. It was fun. You could tell we had a lot of fun. It was a good experience."
Tar Heel feel
Sunday's camp showcased five North Carolina commitments: Switzer, running back Khris Francis from Durham (N.C.) Hillside, receiver Jordan Fieulleteau from Raleigh (N.C.) Wakefield and safeties Korrin Wiggins from Durham (N.C.) Hillside and Desmond Lawrence from Charlotte (N.C.) Christian.
The bond was obvious.
"I think it's good that we're all trying to get to know each other so when we go in [to college], it's cool," Lawrence said. "It's just fun knowing all the guys you go to school with and knowing that we have a top-10 type of class for 2013."
"We've already gotten to know each other from going to combines and stuff like that," Francis added. "It feels good."
Francis also felt good when he was named MVP among the running backs at Sunday's camp.
"I'm ecstatic," he said. "I'm excited. I think I did best at one-on-ones with blocking."
Francis continues to be recruited. He holds offers from Tennessee, Syracuse and Cincinnati.
"I'm firmly committed but I'm still visiting schools and [UNC coaches] know," he said.
Sophomore standout Braxton Berrios bears a striking resemblance to Switzer. The two somewhat diminutive athlete prospects have quick feet, good hands and a desire to compete in combine-style events.
Berrios said he has heard the comparisons.
"I've seen it online a few times," the 5-foot-10 (as listed) prospect from Raleigh (N.C.) Leesville said.
Even Switzer's father, Michael Switzer, noticed the similarities from the sidelines, asking if the two went to the same barber.
"No," Berrios said, "my aunt does my hair."
Go ahead and knock Berrios' size, but don't knock his athletic ability -- his 119.52 SPARQ rating he recorded at the Charlotte combine earlier this year is one of the best in the nation.
"It's nice," he said of his standing. "There is a lot of athleticism out here, a lot of good guys, some of the best in the south."
Berrios has scholarship offers from Minnesota, Wake Forest, North Carolina and East Carolina. He said he's also hearing from Clemson, South Carolina, Miami, Missouri, Penn State and Ohio State.
At 6-4 and 255 pounds and with some speed, Chris Burton was one of the most impressive athletes in attendance.
"I think I did great," the tight end from Danville (Va.) George Washington said. "I got better at a whole lot of things."
East Carolina and Vanderbilt are the latest schools to offer Burton a scholarship. He said Tennessee visited his school this week. He already held offers from Texas Tech, NC State, Temple and Virginia Military.
"All of them are great schools of course and I'd like to visit them in the summer," he said of the latest trio to show interest.
Wiggins playfully yelled at four-star receiver Uriah LeMay to match up against him during drills.
"That's my man," Wiggins said afterward. "It was cool. It was all in good fun."
LeMay just smiled when asked about it.
"It happens in practice," said the usually calm LeMay, who is from Matthews (N.C.) Butler. "It happens all the time. Just dudes craving competition."
Wiggins wouldn't say who usually wins when the two line up against each other. He would say that he's still considering Clemson, Wake Forest and Ohio State despite being a North Carolina commitment.
"It's just because it's so early," he said when asked why he's still considering other programs. "I've been going to see other schools. I still want to see and make sure North Carolina's the right school for me."
Wiggins said he has no other visits planned but expects to visit the aforementioned schools before he makes a final decision.
Jaylen Latter was named the MVP of the defensive backs. Already with one scholarship offer from Navy, he's hoping his showing will give him more options.
"I've been told I have good character," said the prospect from Charlotte (N.C.) Vance said, who added that he has interest from Wake Forest, Duke, Georgia Tech and NC State.
Cameron Phillips from Hyattsville (Md.) DeMatha was named the MVP of the receivers.
"It's an honor to come out here with all these athletes," the 2014 prospect said. "For me to be named MVP, it shows that all my hard work has paid off."
Phillips said he doesn't have any scholarship offers but is hoping his performance will garner more interest. He said he's being recruited by Rutgers, West Virginia, Virginia and Connecticut.
Mike Sutton from Cary (N.C.) Panther Creek was named the MVP of the offensive linemen. Like Phillips, he doesn't yet have a scholarship offer but is hoping his performance on Sunday can help.
"It would probably make that team that offered my No. 1," Sutton said of the first school to offer him a scholarship.