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News and Notes from the New Jersey Nike Opening Camp

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Whole lot of Northeast and Mid-Atlantic talent was on display on Sunday.

This blogger left his basement to actually go out and be a Journalist. Below is a rundown on some of the top performers from Sunday’s Nike Opening camp, and of course, we have updates on the recruitments of some of Penn State’s top targets.

  • Before I get into my own thoughts, here’s a link to the positional MVP of the camps, and also a link to the six guys who were offered a spot at the Opening Final in June. I’ll have more on those six below.
  • Probably the guy I was most impressed with was OG Caedan Wallace. He’s ranked No. 126 in the country according to the 247Sports Composite, but the feel for him coming in was that his ranking might be a little too high. After his performance Sunday, I think the complete opposite true — he should be ranked higher. He was really, really good, pancaking a number of kids, which in a camp setting isn’t the easiest thing in the world. He’s all of 6-foot-5, 315 pounds, and displayed tremendous balance and solid footwork for a kid at his size. I’m pretty sure the only one-on-one reps he lost were to Antonio Alfano, and even those were decently close.
  • Wallace said that Penn State, Oklahoma, Stanford, and Clemson are his top schools. He’ll be back in Happy Valley for the spring game, and will be making an official visit to Stanford before making a decision before his senior season. I like where the Nittany Lions stand here.
  • Rhode Island OT Xavier Truss was beaten a couple times — Truss even admitted this was a major step up in competition — but he had his moments. He’s an absolute mountain of a man, and it’s easy to see why he has offers from every school in the country. He’s a project for sure, but once he gets into a Division-I program and is going against elite competition daily, the sky is the limit.
  • You’ll start to sense a theme here, but Truss will be visiting Penn State for the spring game. He said he has a great relationship with the Nittany Lions coaching staff, and noted that James Franklin and Co. harp on academics more than most staffs he’s in contact with. He still has visits to make Ohio State and Michigan which could obviously change things, but I think if Truss stays in the Big Ten, the Nittany Lions will be the pick. Keep an eye on Alabama, Auburn, and Clemson though — he’s taking a hard serious look at the South. Long way to go here though, with a decision not coming until after his season. He plans on signing in December.
  • Saleem Wormley, the OL MVP, obviously had a good day too. He reminds me of C.J. Thorpe — he’s a on the shorter side (6-foot-2 is my guess), but his long arms allow him to play bigger than he is. Showed good strength at the point of attack. Notre Dame or Penn State seem to be the top two here, but Rutgers and Maryland remain in the picture as well.
  • DE/DT Antonio Alfano lived up to his top 60 ranking, winning pretty much every one-on-one he took part in. Physically, he’s already at a college level — 6-foot-4, 275 pounds, and a ridiculous 36.6 inch vertical shows how explosive he is. The idea of him adding another 30 pounds is frightening. He was also the most vocal guy of the day — very animated, very fired up after his own one-on-ones and when cheering on his fellow defensive linemen.
  • Alfano doesn’t plan on making a decision until after the fall, but right now, Alabama, Georgia, and Penn State seem to be the top three for the New Jersey big man. When asked which coach he has the best relationship with, Alfano answered James Franklin
  • In addition to Alfano, I thought 2020 DE/DT Bryan Bresee and 2020 DT Tre Williams were the best defensive linemen. Bresee is a freak of nature, absolutely unbelievable that he’s only a sophomore. I mean, he’d be a top 5 player in the 2019 class. Williams will end up a five-star, too. He was so quick off the ball, to the point where I don’t think he was even touched by the guard on some of his one-on-ones.
  • Bresee didn’t tip his hand regarding his recruitment, but it’s still so early for him so that’s no surprise. Did mention that he plans to get back up to Penn State at some point in the summer for a practice. Really humble kid. Probably more mature than I am.
  • Talked with newly offered defensive end David Ojabo, who after seeing today, I think will stay at defensive end and not move to defensive tackle. Frame much more suited for the outside. He’s incredibly raw — as he should be because he literally just started playing football in August — but he has a terrific get off. We’ll see if he blows up the same way Jayson Oweh did after landing his Penn State offer last spring, but the Nittany Lions are in a very good spot for Ojabo. He’s also in for the spring game.
  • New Jersey DE R.J. Oben had a really good day. He’s similar to Ojabo and Adisa Isaac — long, lanky athlete with a ton of room to grow. Doesn’t have a Penn State offer, but he’s certainly offer worthy if things fall through with other defensive ends.
  • Andre White Jr. was terrific. It’s tough for linebackers to stick out at events like these, but you could see White was on a different level. Big kid, legitimate 6-foot-3, pushing 225 pounds. He looked comfortable going through all the drills, but was at his best shedding blockers. There just weren’t too many linebackers with his size, strength, and athleticism.
  • White said Penn State and USC are on top, but Maryland is there too. He’ll be back in Happy Valley for the spring game. I get the sense that the Harrisburg-Penn State connection will play a big part, but he has an official visit planned to USC in the summer, so a decision likely won’t come before then.
  • Shane Lee is a ball of muscle. He had an okay day — not that he struggled, but he didn’t too much of anything to stand out in my opinion. He looked better in coverage than I expected though, which might be the biggest knock on him.
  • I was excited to see PA LB Keith Maguire. No Penn State offer for Maguire, while Notre Dame, Clemson, Ohio State, and Alabama all have. After today, I kind of see what the Nittany Lions staff is thinking. He’s a good player — moved extremely well, fluid athlete — but he was smaller than expected. The Nittany Lions could theoretically circle back around to Maguire this summer, but I get the sense the ship has sailed on both ends.
  • As far as linebackers without a Penn State offer that impressed me, I thought New Jersey’s Mohamed Toure was great. He passes the looks test — legitimate 6-foot-2, broad shoulders, long arms, moves tremendously well. It’s tough to gauge instincts in a setting like this, but he’s what a modern day linebacker should look like. Boston College, Rutgers, and Maryland have all offered, but I think he’ll start to pull some bigger ones.
  • Liked what I saw from 2020 LB Mekhail Sherman in the cat and mouse drill, especially for a kid his size. Five-star potential without a doubt.
  • I focused mostly on the linebackers, but 2020 running backs Jalen Berger and Marshawn Lloyd both came to play Sunday. Penn State in a good spot for both, but it’s early.
  • Quarterbacks, wide receivers, and defensive backs were the last to go. I unfortunately had to leave during the middle of their workout, but I really liked what I saw from Taquan Roberson. Smooth, clean throwing motion with very little wasted movement. You can tell he’s been coached up. I also liked the way he carried himself — always seemed like he was the first one to go through the drill, something you like to see from a quarterback. Obviously, the only real question is his size, which I can confirm he’s short. He’s in the 6-foot-0 area though, so I think he’ll be okay.
  • Taisun Phommachanh was in attendance too, but showed to be a little erratic. Far from a quarterback expert here, but he seemed to be aiming his throws a little too much. Big kid, though. Has the arm talent, just doesn’t have the consistency right now.
  • 2021 quarterback name to know: Philadelphia’s Kyle McCord. Just a freshman, but at 6-foot-2 with a strong arm, he’s going to be a big time prospect. He already has offers from Michigan, Boston College, Rutgers, and a few others.
  • John Metchie is a well put together wide receiver. He’s a legitimate 6-foot-0, and might even be pushing 6-foot-1. One of those guys who makes things look effortless.
  • DeMarcco Hellams worked out at safety and wide receiver, but I only saw him at wideout. Really big kid. Looked like he could have been out there with the linebackers.
  • Only saw a bit of the defensive backs working out, but Marquis Wilson, Nick Cross, and Nyquee Hawkins all stood out during the short period I watched. Also saw Tyler Rudolph, who was bigger than expected. Think he ends up at safety, not corner.