Tyrone Swoopes of Whitewright, Texas is a 5-Star quarterback ranked No. 2 in the nation by Scout, but there was still a sense that he had a lot to prove in a pure passing setting like The Opening's 7on tournament.
Blessed, and cursed, with athleticism that could make him a difference maker at several different positions, Swoopes accuracy and passing ability was scrutinized coming into the day. He wasted little time in proving his naysayers wrong with a come from behind drive that included a deep pass that Laquivionte Gonzalez of Cedar Hill, Texas made a circus catch on and a laser to the back of the endzone to Jake Butt of Pickerington, Ohio for the winning score.
Earlier in the game, Swoopes dropped back, set his feet, and delivered a 20 yard out route on a line, the benchmark NFL throw.
Swoopes isn't just an elite athlete moonlighting at quarterback ala Terrelle Pryor; he's a passer who happens to be an elite athlete.
Scout's No. 1 quarterback Max Browne of Sammamish, Wash. and his Field General squad was the consensus media pick to win the 7on tournament, and he quickly led his team down the field on his first drive of the day with short accurate passes to small, quick receivers Sebastian LaRue and Steven Mitchell. Browne has a big arm to stretch the defense, but he's smart and patient, two invaluable assets in the 7on.
Some quarterback prospects have big arms but lack accuracy. Some have nice touch but lack the requisite arm strength. Christian Hackenberg (6'5/215) of Fork Union, Va. has the total package. He's the biggest of the quarterbacks in attendance, has the strongest arm, and is fitting balls into windows that most quarterbacks wouldn't even try. But like most quarterbacks with elite arms, Hackenberg will take some chances that he probably shouldn't. He threw three interceptions in the first half of his second game after knocking off Browne's Field Generals in game one.
It's not a question of if Hackenberg will be elevated in the rankings, it's a question of how high. He's got the game film to back up what we're all seeing in person.
While Hackenberg and Brice Ramsey wowed in drills on Friday, to say Shane Morris struggled would be kind. Morris literally had trouble holding on to the ball as it slipped from his hands no less than five times.
Fast forward to game action on Saturday and Hackenberg starts drilling defensive backs in the chest, Ramsey is pedestrian, and Morris turns in to Sugar-Shane calmly leading his team down the field for touchdown after touchdown.
Morris can be one of the most mind-numbingly frustrating prospects to try and evaluate. He can look awful, and then he can wow. The good news for Michigan fans, the higher the stakes, the better he gets. Morris is coolest when the pressure cooker is hottest.
Jaylon Smith of Fort Wayne, Ind. is the No. 1 outside linebacker prospect in the nation, and he continues to impress. Dropping down to a nickel back spot, Smith has been blanketing the quickest receivers on the field in the slot as well as matching up with tight ends. Smith is the type of freakish athlete who could play safety at his size.
Linebacker Alex Anzalone of Wyomissing, Pa. will make headlines on Sunday when he announces his decision between Notre Dame, Penn State, and Florida. In his first game on Saturday, he made headlines taking an errant Hackenberg pass the other way for a interception and a touchdown. Hackenberg, who is committed to Penn State, hopes to play against Anzalone daily in practice, but he's getting a preview of what facing him as an opponent could be like at The Opening.
There seemed to be the lack of a true No. 1 receiver this year. There are some very good players, but no Robert Woods, Sammy Watkins, or Dorial Green-Beckham types. Ricky Seals-Jones is having something to say about that notion. He's a walking mismatch at 6'6 and 220 pounds. He's bigger than the tight ends and as fluid catching the ball as the slot receivers. A standout on the basketball court, Seals-Jones has amazing body control and hands, and he is another player who could make a run at No. 1 for his position.
In a contrast of styles, Steven Mitchell of Mission Hills, Calif. may end up being the most dangerous weapon of the tournament. A 7v7 is one of the few times one can truly say size doesn't matter and that being small and quick is advantageous. Mitchell scored three touchdowns in a one point losing effort to Seals-Jones' team, and he was the sewing machine to Seals-Jones' hammer. Seals-Jones size makes him a matchup problem, Mitchell's quickness in a non-contact environment does the same.
If Seals-Jones wasn't the most impressive player of the day, O.J. Howard of Prattville, Ala. (6'6/225) was. Howard made several circus catches in the endzone and had one of the most jaw dropping displays of athleticism at the entire event. Howard took a short swing pass from Morris, turned the corner, and outran the cornerback, yes cornerback, in pursuit.
Howard is currently ranked the No. 2 tight end in the nation. When rankings are updated, he'll get my vote for No. 1.
The Opening is the premier event during the season and the Nike staff and the players themselves are putting on a show in Beaverton, Ore. For full coverage of all the action, please click here to follow FOX Sports Next/Scout at The Opening.
Scott began with Scout as the Southeast Regional Manager in 2002. In addition to his recruiting responsibilities, Scott developed and ran the National Scout Combine series from 2005 thru 2008. Scott has been Director of Scouting since 2006 and oversees the Recruiting Rankings for Scout.
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