The Opening is consistently the biggest camp series each offseason. Showcasing the best talent in the nation at each stop, it exhibits the best format and exposure on social media, respectively. Winds were gusting, sleet was falling and even the players remained cold throughout drills. Nonetheless, players from Michigan again, and Michigan targets were the highlights of The Opening finals invitees.
"Michigan Takeover" Continues
After KJ Hamler (St. Mary's), Donovan Peoples-Jones (Cass Tech), Jordan Reid (Cass Tech), Ambry Thomas (Detroit MLK) and Antjuan Simmons (AA Pioneer) all received invites to The Opening finals in last week's Columbus regional, it seemed to be that the takeover was a one-camp thing. But in Chicago, Michigan added two more natives to The Opening finals. Michigan commit Josh Ross (St. Mary's), and heavy Michigan favorite Jaylen Kelly-Powell (Cass Tech), received the invite to The Opening after strong showings. Ross was very quick on his feet, something that will be obvious in Don Brown's blitz-heavy defense. Kelly-Powell's long arms and quickness make him good enough at corner, but safety is his true position where he can one day get drafted if he follows the Cass Tech trend.
Michigan Targets/Commits Performances
2018 LB Target Kolin Demens (Country Day, MI):
Demens, brother of former Michigan linebacker Kenny Demens, had a great camp. Tackling can never be truly showcased in a camp, but Demens showed great pursuit and quickness. In the RB/LB drills he was quick to the backs, almost always winning the battle. Speaking with him before the camp, he said he loves being at Michigan. Demens' family is pushing hard for him to go there, along with his NFL brother Kenny. It will likely be a long time before he announces, but Michigan seems to be the heavy favorite for good reason.
Kolin Demens talks Michigan: "I love Michigan, I love being there." Says family and brother really want him there. pic.twitter.com/t6ttFltEMb— Brandon Justice (@BrandonCJustice) May 14, 2016
2017 LB Commit Josh Ross (St. Mary's, MI):
Ross, also a Michigan legacy, announced his commitment two short months ago. Ross, brother of James Ross III, is set to be an impact player possibly from day one. His ball skills are unmatched, and his film showcases that. At the camp, I don't think it was his best performance, but his quickness and ball skills stood out among others. Ross got the invite to The Opening finals where he can likely show he's stronger and shed blocks better, spots he somewhat struggled at during the camp. Nonetheless, Ross was one of the best overall.
2017 DB Target Jaylen Kelly-Powell (Cass Tech, MI):
Kelly-Powell is an unbelievable defensive back out of Cass Tech, you've heard that before, right? Kelly-Powell was the most competitive defensive back all day. He was loud, intense and competitive; all things matching Harbaugh's style. As aforementioned, his true position is still safety, in my opinion. He and Nebraska WR commit Jaevon McQuitty went one-on-one and it was the most entertaining matchup of the day, Kelly-Powell won. He said he will take all of his visits, then sit down with his family and decide. FWIW, his dad was spotted wearing a Michigan jacket.
2017 DB Amir Riep (Colerain, OH):
Easily the most impressive recruit of the day to me, Riep was dominating WR/DB battles. He had a couple of interceptions in the drills, including this one:
Riep is getting recruited heavy by Michigan, and they could use another DB at his status. Riep received the invite to The Opening finals, and was the most deserving. While, it's unlikely at this point in time that Riep chooses Michigan, it would be something special for the wolverines to land both Kelly-Powell and Riep.
2017 OL Trey Smith (Jackson, TN)
Smith was obviously the biggest and strongest tackle there. He didn't get beat too often, and the one time he did he took a crack to the nose resulting in blood all over the white shirt of the opposing lineman. Smith is one of the hottest recruits in the nation right now, but Michigan doesn't seem to be chasing him too hard. He received an invite to The Opening finals too.
2017 ATH Scott Nelson (Detroit-Jesuit, MI)
Nelson played on the defensive side for the camp. He showed elite footwork with good quickness, although he could get stronger, he had a better than expected day. He said Michigan hasn't been talking to him too much and he remains a heavy Michigan State favorite.
Recruits Rave About Jumpman
Jumpman chatter was heard throughout, but with each recruit I spoke with they found a way to bring up Michigan's upcoming partnership with Jordan. After the first two guys brought it up on their own, I started asking.
2017 DB Russ Yeast said he wanted a Michigan offer and to visit after, then called the Jordan deal 'iconic.'
2018 LB Kolin Demens said it's going to be huge for recruiting, and that it's a huge impact because they're the only ones that have that to offer.
Jordan might be a big deal to everybody, but it isn't going to pay off (metaphorically, at least) in any bigger way than in recruiting. It's obvious that swagger is the newest way to recruit kids, and one of the most impactful. If wearing Jordans on their feet wasn't cool enough, now they have the image of rocking it head-to-toe, and that's exactly what Michigan wanted.
Nebraska Commit Thinking About Michigan Visit
As aforementioned, Jaevon McQuitty (MO) faced off with Kelly-Powell a lot during camp in fun competition. McQuitty said after the camp that if Michigan starts recruiting him a little harder, he would visit there. He went on to say that he would take the visit regardless, but he hasn't planned anything. I wouldn't book it, but expect him to visit come fall. McQuitty and McDoom would be interesting, huh?
Underrated Recruit Stands Out Again
Morgan Ellison is a two-star RB out of Pickerington, OH. Ellison, being from the same city as Jake Butt, should have plenty of exposure, but back-to-back years with leg injuries hindered from having any film whatsoever. He won running back MVP in Columbus and in Chicago, and also claimed the highest SPARQ score at both events. Ellison didn't receive an invite to The Opening finals, but I don't think many kids out there deserved it more than him after that showing again. Michigan has three RB commits, so it might not be Michigan after him, but someone will soon.