Ohio State commits, top targets collide as The Opening, Elite 11 return

Aritcle written by:Jeremy BirminghamJeremy Birmingham



MANHATTAN BEACH, Calif. — Cancelled last summer, The Opening and the Elite 11 have returned. That’s great news for Ohio State recruiting commitments and targets.

Three Buckeyes verbals, including the country’s No. 1-ranked prospect Quinn Ewers, will be in California putting their talents on full display in what has long been considered one of prep football’s premier events.

“I really can’t wait,” Kyion Grayes told Lettermen Row. “I’ve dreamt of this my whole life.”

Here’s what Lettermen Row will be watching in Southern California.

Elite 11 will feature top-ranked Ohio State commit Quinn Ewers

The Elite 11 will kick off the week’s festivities on Wednesday evening. That portion of the competition will feature Ewers, the highest-ranked quarterback prospect since Vince Young. The Ohio State commitment will be the headliner, but there’s no shortage of talented young passers set to compete with him for the coveted Elite 11 MVP trophy.

Ewers will square off against a loaded field of top-100 overall prospects that includes Clemson commit Cade Klubnik, Texas commitment Maalik Murphy, Alabama verbal Ty Simpson, LSU pledge Walker Howard, Texas A&M commit Connor Wiegman, Florida State commit A.J. Duffy and Gavin Wimsett, who is heading to Rutgers.

Penn State commit and Ohio native Drew Allar is one of three fellow Big Ten verbals taking a shot at upending Ewers. He’ll be joined by new Michigan State commit Katin Houser and Maryland commitment AJ Swann.

Outside of the Big Ten, Miami (Fla.) commit Jacurri Brown, Auburn commit Holden Geriner, Florida commitment Nick Evers, USC verbal Devin Brown and Tennessee commit Tayven Jackson — a teammate of Caden Curry at Center Grove (Greenwood, Ind.) High School — Baylor verbal Zach Pyron, Utah commit Nate Johnson and uncommitted Tennessee standout Luther Richesson will also participate.

The Elite 11 competition will start on Wednesday evening and carry through three different days of competition. The quarterbacks will be split up and placed on different 7-on-7 teams for the weekend’s tournament.

Top Buckeyes targets set for The Opening

In past years, The Opening would gather upward of 150 of the country’s best players, selected from regional combines, and put them on a handful of competitive teams. This year’s event is different. It’s an invitational training camp with a 7-on-7 tournament on the weekend, but no regional camps were required to attend. Despite some differences, the expectations are the same: High-intensity competition with the best of the best.

Kyion Grayes and C.J. Hicks will be in California representing Ohio State. That pair have been front and center for the Buckeyes in peer-to-peer recruiting game. It should be very valuable to have them both in California working in tandem, especially alongside Ewers.

Who will the future Ohio State stars be courting? Here’s a short list of the top targets they’ll be working on.

  • In the class of 2022 it’s actually a very short list: Xavier Nwankpa and maybe Dasan McCullough, the former Buckeyes verbal who flipped to Indiana two months ago. He is still very close to the Ohio State commitments. If something crazy happens down the road, any continued efforts are worthwhile. Recruiting in 2021 is always a crapshoot. It will be a much more concerted effort by the Buckeyes verbals with Nwankpa. Especially Grayes, who has become one of the Iowa safety’s closet friends over the last half-year.
  • Other highly-ranked national prospects include tight end Oscar Delp, USC 5-star commitment Domani Jackson, California’s Kamari Ramsey and South Carolina’s Trevor Etienne.
  • Where could Ohio State make some real noise is the Class of 2023? Phenix City (Ala.) 5-star A.J. Harris will be at The Opening. He’ll be joined by fellow 5-stars and top Buckeyes receiver targets Jalen Hale and Makai Lemon. Recently offered tight end Theo Melin, who hails from Sweden, is going to be there. He camped for Ohio State and became a top target of Kevin Wilson’s and fellow tight end Duce Robinson, a standout two-sport athlete in Phoenix, will also be in attendance.