Commentary

The Opening comes to a close

Champions are crowned, but more importantly players loved the competition

Updated: July 10, 2011, 2:51 PM ET
By Dave Hooker and Corey Long | ESPN Recruiting

BEAVERTON, Ore. -- All Team Alpha Talon needed was a second chance and wide receiver Justin Ferguson made it count.

The ESPNU 150 prospect, who's the No. 11 WR in the country, caught both of Alpha Talon's touchdowns in a 12-7 victory over Vapor Carbon in the 7on finals at The Opening at Nike World Headquarters.

[+] EnlargeJustin Ferguson
Tom Hauck for ESPN.comNotre Dame WR commit Justin Ferguson hauled in the game-winning TD for Team Alpha Talon.
The two teams faced off in a winners' bracket semifinal with Vapor Carbon easily winning 19-0. Alpha Talon earned a second shot with a 14-13 win over Field Generals in the elimination bracket finals.

"That was our only loss in the whole tournament and it hurt so we came out motivated to win the championship game and not feel that way again," said Ferguson, a four-star prospect from Pembroke Pines (Fla.) Flanagan.

The game-winning touchdown came on a 40-yard heave from quarterback Chad Kelly (Buffalo, N.Y./St. Joseph's) into double coverage.

"It was third-and-25 actually and to be honest I just tried to throw it in between two safeties because they were playing three safeties deep," Kelly said. "Justin made a great move to the outside and back in and he made a play on the ball. It was perfect.

Kelly struggled against Vapor Carbon in both games, throwing two interceptions at the goal line in the championship, but he made the right pass when it counted.

"They played a defense I had never seen before in seven-on-seven," Kelly said. "But we hung in there and made it happen."

Vapor Carbon had a last chance at the victory but quarterback Tanner Mangum's (Eagle, Idaho/Eagle) Hail Mary pass was broken up.

"It was pretty disappointing because it was a championship game and everyone's coming out here competing hard," Mangum said. "This is tough to take but all credit to their defense. They are a great team."

Mangum, who was brought into The Opening as an alternate, said he came into the event with something to prove and feels like he accomplished his goals.

"I think I did have a little bit to prove and I wanted to show everyone that I belonged here," Mangum said. "I hope I was about to do that."

Collins doubles up
ESPNU 150 defensive back Landon Collins (Geismar, La./Dutchtown) added onto his winnings by being named the 7on tournament's most valuable player.

The 6-foot, 210-pound safety won the SPARQ ratings national championship on Wednesday, setting a new scoring record in the process.

"I just came out here to do my thing and the coaches put me in the right position," Collins said. "Whenever I compete my plan is to be the best I can be."

Collins says his top schools are LSU, Alabama, Tennessee, Florida and Texas. He plans on taking official visits to each school this fall.

Winning big
When 6-3, 220-pound Torshiro Davis (Shreveport, La./Woodlawn) went up against 6-6, 270-pound Kyle Murphy (San Clemente, Calif./San Clemente), it looked like a bit of a mismatch.

But Davis powered his way through his bigger opponent in their one-on-one final, proving that the biggest isn't always the baddest.

"You can't be scared of these guys because they are bigger, they put their pads on just like I do," Davis said. "I get after it in the weight room and I believe I am as strong as anyone out here."

Davis had plenty of practice for the finals as he had often drawn 6-9 Zach Banner (Lakewood, Wash./Lakes) in the earlier drills.

"Zach was really my toughest test," Davis added. "When I came down here everyone was talking about him being the best. He's a big, nasty player."

The LSU commit says he's ready to get back to Louisiana and utilize the techniques he learned this week.

"The coaches can show you a lot of things because they have that experience and they've done it much longer," Davis said. "I'm ready to get to work."

Guillermo battles back
Offensive lineman Jay Guillermo (Maryville, Tenn./Maryville) prides himself on his toughness and he proved it by battling Ellis McCarthy (Monrovia, Calif./Monrovia) to a standstill.

"I loved going against Ellis because he was such a huge challenge," Guillermo said. "He'd club that big forearm out and knock you silly. He knocked me around earlier today."

In the finals, however, Guillermo stood tall.

"I learned from our earlier contests and I learned from all these great defensive linemen because each one brought something different to the table," Guillermo said. "Ellis, Sheldon Day was another one. They were all real good and I'm honored to go against them."

Guillermo really enjoyed the additional coaching he received from former NFL offensive lineman LeCharles Bentley.

"It's something you just can't put a price on," Guillermo said. "These guys know the game inside and out. I just wanted to take it all in."

But that doesn't mean Guillermo was completely satisfied with his performance.

"I thought I was all right," the top center in the nation said. "There's always stuff I can get better on. I was just all right."

Despite his own critique, Guillermo's stock continues to grow as the 87th best prospect in the nation. That kind of ascension would give him plenty of options if he decided against living up to his Clemson commitment. Tigers fans shouldn't worry.

"I'm 100 percent committed," the 6-3, 290-pounder said. "I've always grown up a Clemson fan."

Still, other schools are trying.

"Every email and phone call I get, I ignore it," he said of other college coaches' advances. "There's no point in leading them on."

Guillermo said Miami found him on Facebook and kept sending him messages until he called the school and asked it to stop. Oddly enough, that call led to more calls from the Canes.

After sharing the story, Guillermo just shook his head.

Banner banter
Lakewood (Wash.) Lakes four-star offensive lineman Zach Banner seems to be getting used to his celebrity -- even if he may exaggerate it a bit.

The ESPN 150 prospect, who is the No. 18 offensive tackle in the nation, was not surprised or bothered when some fellow offensive linemen gave him a hard time about his elite standing.

"They were joking around," Banner said with a sly grin. "But I have that sort of celebrity."

If Banner was joking, it was hard to tell. He seems to be enjoying the recruiting process. He is currently considering Alabama, Florida State, Louisiana State, California, Oregon, Washington, Oklahoma and Southern California.

With his self-proclaimed, Shaquille O'Neal-like celebrity, is being a Trojan in Los Angeles the right place for him?

"There ya go," he said, then paused. "I'm only kidding."

The 305-pound Banner, who is 6-10 with cleats on, knows that the joking with his teammates stops when he gets on the field.

"Because they know how serious I am with the offensive line stuff," he said. "They know how good I am. I'm coming up."

So humble.

A big Riser
Offensive lineman Curtis Riser from Desoto (Texas) High School was still glowing hours after his two pancake blocks in the morning session.

"You feel like you dominated your opponent," the Texas commit said when asked how he felt about the two blocks.

Riser said those two highlights weren't the full story.

"I didn't feel like I got beat once today," said Riser, who said his worst blocks were stalemates.

Despite the consistent performance, the four-star, 6-4, 290-pounder learned some humility this week.

"In my hometown, I'm 'The Man,'" Riser said. "This brings you back down to reality. Everybody is as fast and as strong as you. It's competitive. I love this."

Other superlatives

The offensive line MVP for the event was Vadal Alexander (Buford, Ga./Buford) while Shelton Day (Indianapolis, Ind./Warren Central) was the defensive line MVP. Murphy and Jamal Marcus (Durham, N.C./Hillside) were declared offensive line and defensive line one-on-one champions for the event.

The 7on All-Tournament team was Travis Blanks (Tallahassee, Fla./North Florida Christian), Cyrus Jones (Baltimore, Md./Gilman School), Johnathan Gray (Aledo, Texas/Aledo), Mangum, Kelly, Deontay Greenberry (Fresno, Calif./Washington Union), Marcus Maye (Melbourne, Fla./Holy Trinity Episcopal), Bryce Treggs (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco) and Tee Shepard (Fresno, Calif./Central).

Notes from the trenches
It got chippy at times on Saturday. Detroit Lions Pro Bowl defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, who served as coach of the defensive linemen this week, had to step in to separate a couple of skirmishes, including one between offensive tackle Kyle Murphy of San Clemente (Calif.) High School and defensive lineman Chris Casher (Mobile, Ala./Faith). … Defensive linemen Ellis McCarthy from Monrovia (Calif.) High School and Casher were mentioned among offensive linemen as some of the toughest to block.

Dave Hooker covers recruiting in the Southeast and Atlantic Coast for ESPN.com. He can be reached at davehookerespn@gmail.com. Corey Long has been covering high school football and recruiting in the Sunshine State since 1995. He can be reached at coreyespn@gmail.com.

Dave Hooker

Reporter, RecruitingNation

Corey Long

Reporter, RecruitingNation