The Opening Finals, the premiere summer showcase event, takes place in Frisco (Texas) on June 29-July 3. Tomahawk Nation will be the only Florida State Seminoles outlet covering the massive competition.
This will be the eighth year of the competition, and it’s technically a few different events rolled into one. In order to score an invite, recruits must qualify by attending and performing well in one of the numerous regional Nike recruiting camps throughout the spring.
In total, 165 players made the cut in 2018 and get to go to the Dallas Cowboys Practice Facility with expenses paid by Nike, the apparel giant. They’ll receive instruction and guidance from an experienced group of trainers.
Players practice together briefly on Saturday and are introduced to the showcase format, learning their 7v7 plays and getting to know one another.
On Sunday, the Nike Football Rating Championship takes place. Think of this like the NFL Combine for the top high school players. You can count on the testing numbers being legit as well as eye-popping. This replaces the SPARQ testing system that you might have heard of.
Then Monday and Tuesday, it’s the lineman challenge, where the best OLs and DLs go up 1-on-1, many of them wearing pads to give the most realistic assessment of skill. (Players from some states aren’t allowed to strap up, due to restrictions by their high school athletic associations.) Florida players can wear pads.
While the linemen do their thing, the skill players do theirs in a 7-on-7 tournament.
FSU has four commitments at the event. Only Oklahoma, Alabama, and LSU have more. Miami has two, while Florida has zero. Dan Mullen’s old school, Mississippi State, has two.
- Sam Howell, QB, Monroe (NC): Howell impressed at the Elite 11 in early June, and will look to do some recruiting for the Seminoles. Howell has a high floor.
- Quashon Fuller, DL, Lehigh (Fla.): Fuller will be looking to prove he’s a defensive end, as opposed to what he looks like, which is a defensive tackle.
- Akeem Dent, CB, Palm Beach (Fla.): Dent has nothing to prove. He’s a stud, has been for several years, and remains solid to FSU.
- Renardo Green, CB, Weikiva (Fla.): Green will be looking to prove that FSU made the right move in accepting his commitment as early as it did, despite his three-star rating. I’ve seen him a lot and he should shine in this setting.
This is not necessarily an exhaustive list, but one who we know consists of players FSU is in regular contact with.
- DB: Tyrique Stevenson, Miami; Nick Cross, Hyattsville (MD); Raymond Woodie III, Tallahassee; Brendan Gant, Lakeland (Fla.)
- OL: Evan Neal, IMG; Warren McLendon, Brunswick (Ga.);
- DL: Kayvon Thibodeaux, Thousand Oaks (Calif.);
- LB: Kalen Deloach, Savannah (Ga.); Derick Hall, Gulfport (Miss)
- WR: Jadon Haselwood, WR, Ellenwood (Ga.); George Pickens, Hoover (Ala.); Bru McCoy, Santa Ana (Calif.); John Dunmore, Hollywood (Fla.),
- RB Trey Sanders, IMG;
We’ll update this piece with items and observations 1-2 times on Saturday, Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday.
- I spoke with receiver John Dunmore, and believe he’ll commit to Penn State when he makes his decision on Thursday. But that doesn’t mean his recruitment is over. Not by a long shot. I explained the situation here.
- I spoke with Keon Zipperer, the four-star tight end from Lakeland. He mentioned FSU, but I don’t get the sense that FSU is that serious of a player in his recruitment right now. A story on Zipperer will be published sometime Sunday on SB Nation Recruiting.
None of FSU’s commits made my standouts list from Sunday. It is really hard to stand out in a group of the 160 best in the nation, and even being invited to the event was an honor.
- Sam Howell finished in a tie for second (along with Bo Nix) in the QB long toss. Both threw it 64 yards. Taulia Tagovailoa threw it 66.
- I saw some nice reps from Akeem Dent in coverage. Dent is a reliable defender. He has quick feet and a great feel for the position.
- I didn’t get to see much of Renardo Green or Quashon Fuller, as the field is split up and they were on the other side.
- Quashon Fuller was awesome Monday, winning five of his six reps in the finals. He lined up at defensive tackle, and and won with quickness, technique, and power. I have an interview coming with Fuller. He was by far FSU’s best commit Monday.
- The other FSU commitments had an up and down day. Sam Howell was hot early in pool play, but once the championship round started, he fell apart, tossing three picks in the first half. Akeem Dent was similarly good early, but was beat twice in the championship round and didn’t play much of the second half.
- Renardo Green will consider visits to Michigan and Ohio State. I don’t believe he’s underrated, but he doesn’t look like someone who doesn’t belong.
- Some huge news here as FSU will get a return visit this summer from the No. 1 player in the nation.