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Ebenezer, Kamara & Barbershops: Highlights of Nike’s The Opening Camp 2012

Staten Island running back Augustus Edwards will make his decision tomorrow morning (Follow The Fizz’s twitter @orangefizz for his announcement and reaction), and Syracuse fans are hoping it’s the the first half of a historic package deal. Brooklyn monster Ebenezer Ogundeko will announce his college choice on July 20th, and participated over the weekend at Nike’s prestigious “The Opening.” One-hundered and fifty of the nation’s best players were invited, and Ebo has whittled his list down to SU, Notre Dame and Florida.

Here’s some of the highlights of the weekend in Beaverton, Oregon:

  • We Can Dream, Can’t We?

In May, The Fizz profiled Georgia running back Alvin Kamara. He had cited Syracuse as a school that stood out to him at the time, though we knew it would be only fleeting interest. Doug Marrone was battling Nick Saban’s insane letter-writing campaign and some of the nation’s top programs. Kamara turned heads at The Opening, and SU has been pushed aside by some of the most powerful teams in the country.

“As one of the uncommitted guys at the event and someone college across the country are chasing, Kamara gets more than his fair share of fellow recruits looking to whisper in his ear that their school is for him.

‘Every guy I talk to,’ Kamara said with a laugh. ‘I guess I’m kind of a target. The Georgia guys, Shaq Wiggins and Tray Matthews, and the South Carolina guys are coming at me. Everybody is, USC, Oregon, Alabama. It’s been fun.'”

  • Playing with the Big Boys

When the Orange begins play in the ACC, Clemson will still be the beast of the conference. The Tigers continue to rake in high-end talent, and much of that was on display this weekend.

“Clemson recently picked up the No. 1 recruit in the country last month in Robert Nkemdiche and several Clemson commits at The Opening were joking/prodding for Maryland corner Kendall Fuller to be the latest top-100 commit for the Tigers. When he heard the news that the program landed the top recruit in his class, Fuller’s ears definitely perked up.

‘It’s a really big draw,’ Fuller said. “It shows how special of a school Clemson is. They have such a good coaching staff and they’re definitely coming up.’

Fuller was also named to the Nike All-Tournament team following the conclusion of the 7ON portion of The Opening as well.

  • Coolest Party Favor

Last year, The Opening debuted a barbershop in the players’ lounge, and recruits could get any number of things cut into their hair.

“Maryland corner Kendall Fuller was one of several to take advantage of the perk, shaving Virginia Tech and Clemson’s – his two finalists – logos into the left and right side of his head. ‘I’m going to Virginia Tech next weekend and Clemson the weekend after that. I’m just going to see how I feel.'”

  • Father-Son Pickup Game, Anyone?

Talk about some good athletic genes. Two sons of professional stars spent time together, as Torri Hunter Jr. and The Admiral’s son hung out.

“Prosper, TX wide receiver Torii Hunter Jr. caught multiple long touchdowns for the winning squad, and during the 7ON tournament was named overall MVP.

No stranger to the bright lights and media attention thanks to his father, the Los Angeles Angeles outfielder of the same name, Hunter Jr. was unsure of what The Opening would actually be like. 

One of the top players in North Texas, the savvy route runner let his game do the talking in stringing together three consecutive days of impressive play. Hunter Jr. was somewhat anonymous among his fellow recruits. 

“A lot of people don’t even recognize the name or expect Torii Hunter Jr. to be here. People didn’t notice. I actually stayed with Corey Robinson, and his dad is [NBA Hall of Famer] David Robinson. So that was pretty good.”

Hunter Jr. holds offers from schools such as Arizona, Arkansas, Mississippi State and Texas Tech among others and had nearly 750 yards receiving and 11 touchdowns last season as a junior. Recruited by some of the top programs in the country has meant an additional distraction from everyday life but the calm and collected receiver deals with the process by just taking it as it comes along.

  • Quote of the Weekend

“It’s just like going in the backyard with your friends, and everybody can do a backflip and we’re just all wondering who can do the prettiest one. That’s all this is.”

Only a handful of juniors were invited, but the No. 1 rising junior in the nation, according to 247Sports, was there: Da’Shawn Hand. A 6-4, 250-pound defensive end out of Virginia, he’s loaded with scholarship offers and quick wit, who played down being intimidated by the older players.

Schools like Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Clemson, Florida, Michigan, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Penn State and in-state Virginia and Virginia Tech are all after him.

  • T-Shirt of the Weekend

At least one USC commit was spotted at the camp sporting a shirt that read “Our 75 Are Better Than Your 85” – a reference to the scholarship restrictions placed on the Trojans program from the NCAA. Hey, USC can talk the talk. The school is a national title contender and one of the country’s most talented squads despite suffering on probation the last two seasons.

  • Ohio State’s loss is Notre Dame’s gain. 

“Alex Anzalone, a linebacker out of Pennsylvania, had been committed to Ohio State since mid-spring, but dropped the Buckeyes a month later. Anzalone was asked to have his picture taken with an Ohio State fan and some other recruits, and it turned out the fan was a convicted sex offender – which unnerved Anzalone. He reopened his recruiting in May.

Notre Dame got his commitment on Sunday, while in-state Penn State and Florida didn’t.

“It’s been a pretty rough process,” Anzalone said. “But I think I’ll enjoy things at the next level. The academics was the tip of the iceberg for me. I’m really close to the commits there (at Notre Dame).”

Read full coverage from Bryan Fischer of CBSSports.com, and Brian McLaughlin of the Sporting News for more from The Opening.

  • Stay tuned to The Fizz tomorrow for Edwards’ decision and follow us on Twitter @orangefizz.
Posted: D.A.

 

The Fizz is owned, edited and operated by Damon Amendolara. D.A. is an ’01 Syracuse graduate from the Newhouse School with a degree in Broadcast Journalism.

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