Nine Ohio State pledges will head to The Opening, which is one more than a year ago.
With the most representatives of any school in the nation heading to the nationally televised, star-studded event, quarterback Stephen Collier (Leesburg, Ga./Lee County), running back Parris Campbell Jr. (Akron, Ohio/St. Vincent-St. Mary), outside linebackers Dante Booker (Akron, Ohio/St. Vincent-St. Mary) and Kyle Berger (Cleveland/St. Ignatius), offensive tackle Kyle Trout (Lancaster, Ohio/Lancaster), defensive ends Dylan Thompson (Lombard, Ill./Montini Catholic) and Jalyn Holmes (Norfolk, Va./Lake Taylor), wide receiver Terry McLaurin (Indianapolis/Cathedral) and cornerback Damon Webb (Detroit/Cass Tech) know what they’re in for.
All nine are going there with a chip and a chirp.
<1. The chip is to prove they’re underrated.
OSU has the most commits at The Opening of any school by far, but that doesn’t mean it has a ton of highly ranked commits. In fact, only four of its commits are in the ESPN 300, and only one (Webb), is among the top 150. Excellent showings here could provide a rankings boost for any of them. “By competing, we’re showing how good we are,” Berger said. “Being able to meet up with the top 150 kids, it’s the perfect time.”
2. The chirp is to get in the ear of some of the top campers in the nation.
All nine have been active in recruiting for the Buckeyes. Webb’s family even has a website, Bucks2014.com, detailing news, notes and commitments for Ohio State. They all see The Opening as an opportunity to spread the word. “Kids like to make decisions in the summer,” Berger said. “This is a great time to put the Buckeyes in their ear.”
3. Stout Trout.
Trout is one of those guys outside the 300 with a chance to break in if he can hold up against top competition, some of which he got a chance to see up close and personal at the Columbus NFTC. “I’m trying to seek out the best competition and beat them,” Trout said. “I went to the Nike Training Camp expecting to see Da’Shawn Hand. I wanted to see him and I wanted to go against him. When they said, ‘Do you want to play right tackle?’ I said, “ ‘Heck yeah, I want to play right tackle.’ I’m a left tackle, but I don’t care. I can change my feet, I’m athletic. It’s a little weird, but I wanted to prove to people I can go with the No. 1 defensive end in the nation, which is exactly what I did. … He beat me, I beat him, and we stalemated. I want to go at him again. Not in a mean way, we’re cool, but I want to go against the best talent in the nation.”
4. Webb of intrigue.
Webb, the nation’s No. 8 corner and easily OSU’s top-ranked commit at this time at No. 57 overall, has turned heads at every camp he’s gone to and received his invite in Columbus, just like five of the other Ohio State commitments headed to Oregon. His words weren’t measured when he was asked what he wanted out of this trip. “I’m looking to go out there and compete against the top competition,” Webb said. “I want to prove I’m the best corner in the nation.”
5. Strength in numbers
Nine commits at an event could be a significant advantage for Ohio State. We know they will be recruiting top targets the Buckeyes have already identified, but can they sway a player or two who already are committed elsewhere? The group mentality is a powerful one, and maybe a player not really considered a possible get will fall into lockstep with the big group representing the scarlet and gray. It’s really not a farfetched scenario.