Mike Mitchell set the SPARQ national record on Friday at The Opening (Photo by the author).
Other than the Texas commits at The Opening, and former commit Ricky Seals-Jones, there were several important targets of interest for the Longhorns, or simply players of interest, such as Marcell Harris, Torrodney Prevot, Mike Mitchell, Eldridge Massington, Dontre Wilson, and others.
After a monster Friday that saw him crack off a 4.39 40 and eventually set the national SPARQ record, all the talk upon arrival the first day and early Saturday was about Plano Prestonwood linebacker Mike Mitchell, who was also as well put together as any linebacker there. Add in a 40-inch vertical and Mitchell became one of the few players who actually lived up to the ridiculous testing numbers advertised for him entering the event.
But that's a key point for all those clamoring for Texas to increase interest in the 6-4, 216-pounder -- as hard as it is to say that a national SPARQ record was expected, his film backed up the straight-line speed, which has never been in question.
Rather, the question has always been about his ability to re-direct, to completely transfer that athleticism to film, especially since he doesn't want to play defensive end, the position at which he delivers some of his best moments on tape. Over the weekend, the lack of fluidity and change of direction for Mitchell on film was a major topic and I didn't hear a lot of disagreement.
7on play is a tough format for linebackers to excel, and the PCA product wasn't a liability, he just wasn't particularly noticeable, either.
Mitchell mentioned that Texas hinted at defensive end for him, which clearly didn't fly well. If Texas reached out to him, he said he would still be interested, but it looks like Ohio State is in the driver's seat right now given Michtell's childhood affinity for Urban Meyer as a Florida native and Gator fan growing up. A trip to Columbus could seal the deal there.
Unfortunately, I didn't see Torrodney Prevot participate much, due to an ankle injury, I believe. After hearing plenty of tales (and seeing some film) of him destroying offensive linemen at combines out of pads, I wanted to see what he would do in the more realistic setting at The Opening.
He didn't answer that question and he was a tough read about any favorites, though he did reveal that he really likes the state of Oregon, and Portland in particular (seconded), so the visit to Eugene could play an important role in his recruitment. Prevot is an interesting guy in that he's changed his commitment timetable a couple of times and different stories come out about his favorites and how many of them there are.
Texas isn't really being mentioned in the top group right now and he hasn't been able to make it to campus for some time, with a trip in the works, essentially the case for some time. The inability to make it campus often results in a decrease in interest level from the Texas coaching staff and it may be the case that Texas simply stops recruiting Prevot if he doesn't evidence interest through actually making the trip.
A&M commits Reggie Chevis and Hardreck Walker are hard in his ear, but Prevot was careful not to tip his hand, even in casual conversation. Guess that's not a surprise, but the sense remains that Texas isn't in a favorable position at this point. And despite the lack of a weakside end in the class currently, the concern feels less pronounced now, especially with Dajaun Drennon now on the radar.
Marcell Harris is the legitimate name with the 'Horns still in serious contention. Bud Elliott has obviously had a chance to see him a few times in person and I liked his basic assessment -- every time he starts thinking Harris is a linebacker (a dirty word in his recruitment like tight end for Ricky Seals-Jones), the Florida product makes a play that changes his mind.
It was a bit of a mixed bag for Harris, as he was noticeably a step late on several big plays, including two long passes to Torii Hunter, Jr. He also made some plays of his own. Again, Elliott summed it up well by noting that Harris would fit well as a Cover 2 safety, which would allow him to simply play hash to sideline, rather than needing to cover all that ground as a center fielder.
The linebacker questions are there because of Harris' size and ability to play in run support, but it seems to me as if he would be a strong fit in a nickel/SAM position similar to that envisioned for Demarco Cobbs this season. He's not a guy that you want isolated in coverage as Manny Diaz and Duane Akina used Kenny Vaccaro last season -- don't ask to flip his hips and run with slot receivers, as Scipio Tex pointed out this weekend.
Point being that Harris would be a strong fit for Texas, he's planning a visit this fall, and there's enough positive buzz at there surrounding the 'Horns that it's worth harboring the belief that the main competition for Florida is Texas. And Harris is good enough to continue that pursuit until he makes his commitment to one or the other, as appears will be the case.
The breakout player from Texas was a name familiar to baseball fans -- Torii Hunter. The Jr. version, in this case, who plays his football at Prosper. He won the 7on MVP for his strong play in the championship, with two long catches requiring body control and ball skills to pull in. He didn't have a great 40 time -- 4.57, with a 4.35 -- but he did make plays on the biggest stage there, which was enough to draw the attention of Jake Raulerson.
It's unlikely that the Longhorns get in the mix, though his is a name to continue watching. Does he end up in the Big 12 or opt to go out of state to schools like Arkansas, Stanford, or Notre Dame? He even reports an Alabama offer.
One-time potential target Eldridge Massington was a bit of a disappointment at the event, dropping several touchdown passes, rarely flashing, and struggling to get on the field with Tyrone Swoopes' team. He drew some raves on Friday, but after that he was a non factor. The absence of advanced route running was glaring on his film, and it appeared absent for a reason. The final two days were a bit disappointing considering how badly his team needed playmaking.
Dontre Wilson unofficially finished 47th in the SPARQ rating, running a 4.51 40 and posting a 4.31 shuttle that was good for 42nd among players in attendance, finishing behind Alabama tight end commit OJ Howard in the latter. Not the strongest testing numbers for a guy who was expected to do well in that category. He did, however, flash some taking what were essentially handoffs, managing to get the edge on one such play, no easy task given that 7on play makes it difficult to pull off "runs" like that.
Within reason, if there was one player there Texas should try to hop in the mix with, it's Tennessee cornerback Jalen Ramsey, who held his own against Ricky Seals-Jones and looks the part. Ramsey didn't run a blazing 40 at 4.54, but he did have a vertical leap of 40 inches and appeared to have fluid hips in brief looks. He has Alabama and Vanderbilt among his final choices.