CHARLOTTE, N.C. – All eyes were on Tee Higgins during The Opening’s stop at Mallard Creek High School, and the five-star wide receiver from Oak Ridge, Tenn. did not disappoint.
The best wide receiver in the country was dominant throughout the afternoon and it resulted in an invite to The Opening finals in Oregon. He’ll be joined by a number of Clemson targets, who will certainly put on the full-court press.
Blake Vinson also scored a finals invite from the Charlotte Opening. Fellow Clemson commitment Amari Rodgers picked his up in Atlanta, so at least two Tigers will be in his ear in Oregon later this summer.
Rodgers, who Higgins has grown close to over the last year or so, continues to serve as one of Clemson’s heaviest recruiters. They play on the same 7-on-7 team out of the Knoxville area. In addition to a likely visit later this summer for Clemson’s camp, Rodgers should have plenty of opportunities to recruit Higgins to the Tigers’ 2017 class.
As we wrote on Sunday afternoon, Higgins continues to be high on Clemson — wide receivers coach Jeff Scott has made quite the impression.
“He’s so cool,” Higgins said. “Cool, laid-back, funny guy, so that’s what I like, I’m kinda cool, laid-back.”
Next Best: Wando’s OrTre Smith and Charlotte-Mallard Creek’s Ryan Jones, a UNC commitment, would have jockeyed for the nod as second-best wide receiver at Sunday’s event, had they participated.
Smith was out with an ankle injury, which he recently suffered during track. He spent a considerable amount of time on the sidelines with Jones, who was once on the Tigers’ board. Smith is still open, but he’s considering a number of schools, including Clemson, South Carolina and UNC. Jones hasn’t completely closed the door on his recruitment. South Carolina has been mentioned as an option for him.
This spring, Smith will cut his list down to five or six schools. A decision will be reached at some point during the season, probably around the halfway point.
Clemson has upped the pressure, involving Jeff Scott with fellow offensive coordinator Tony Elliott, who recruits the Charleston area.
The Tigers are also a factor with two 2018 wide receivers who shined on Sunday: Derion Kendrick (Rock Hill-South Pointe) and Demarcus Gregory (Byrnes).
Both looked good during a cat-and-mouse drill with defensive backs. Kendrick solidified our belief as that he’s an elite-level play-maker on offense. He was probably the most dynamic player in the cat-and-mouse drill, regularly drawing the approval from the other wide receivers. One of his more impressive moves came against Clemson cornerback commitment LeAnthony Williams Jr.
Gregory showed some wiggle, too. He also looked strong as a route-runner, regularly winning his reps in 1-on-1s and half-field pass-skele.
In coverage: Williams was one of the better cover cornerbacks on hand for the camp, but fellow Atlanta-area cornerback A.J. Terrell scored an invite to The Opening. They workout with one another, but Williams hasn’t put a lot of pressure on Terrell to join the Clemson class.
Terrell has Clemson among his five favorites, along with South Carolina, Florida, Georgia and Auburn. The Atlanta-Westlake prospect hasn’t visited Clemson yet, but he hopes to change that later this summer.
Clemson linebacker commitment Baylon Spector also looked good dropping back into coverage during the half-field pass-skele portion of the camp. He drew some praise from former All-Pro Willie McGinest, who was coaching linebackers.
Spector’s natural ability in pass coverage should come as no surprise, considering that he’s played a lot of safety for Calhoun High School in Georgia.
The Big Boys: Clemson offensive line commitment Blake Vinson told us before the camp that he was going to work up and down the line at every position during the day. From what we caught, his best work during 1-on-1s was at left tackle, the position he plays at North Marion High School in Citra, Fla.
While at left tackle, Vinson won several reps against four-star defensive end Malik Herring. At center, working against Josh Belk — the 2018 defensive tackle from Lewisville — reps were split. They didn’t shy away from each other on this rep, which got a little heated after the whistles blew:
Speaking of Herring, he cleared the air about the commit watch tweet from last week. That, he said, was a shout-out to his buddy, Netori Johnson, who committed to Georgia less than 24 hours later.
Herring isn’t sure when his commit watch will be on, because it changes pretty frequently. Clemson and Georgia are thought to be the favorites, but several others are in the mix, including Tennessee and USC.
Swag Report: Anytime prospects gather for events like this, it’s always interesting to see what they show up wearing, so here’s a run-down of who was sporting what:
Vinson: Clemson hat
Spector: Clemson shirt
Williams: Clemson jacket
Herring: Georgia gloves
Devon Hunter: UNC gloves
Gregory: Tennessee gloves
Stephon Wynn Jr. was neutral with his gear, but his dad was sporting a few different articles of Clemson gear.