Observations From Day One of The Opening Finals

By Andrew Lind on June 29, 2017 at 4:34 pm
Kamryn Babb
Kamryn Babb

It was an absolutely beautiful 80 degrees at the Nike World Headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon, as The Opening Finals began in earnest this afternoon with practice for the quarterbacks, tight ends and wide receivers.

Among those going through drills at Bo Jackson Field, Ohio State targets:

I'd argue that Babb, who was closely watched and instructed by NFL Hall of Famer Jerry Rice, is the most well-rounded receiver in the country. He's an excellent route runner with an explosive first step and has a great catch radius, which was evident in individual drills. While the quarterbacks struggled with their accuracy throughout the practice session, Babb caught every ball that was thrown his way.

As the players moved from station to station, Babb was among the first ones to line up every time. While this honestly may not be a big deal, it was clear he's intent on expanding his knowledge of the game and not just resting on his laurels as the nation's No. 1 wideout (per 247Sports).

The same goes for Smith, who will also be on Team Mach Speed this weekend. The two were lined up on the same side of the field at one point, and — let me tell you — it was a scary sight. Smith's size and speed with cause tons of matchup problems at the next level.

It's easily to see why there was a lot of talk about him playing tight end in college, too. At 6-foot-6, he stands head and shoulders above most of the other wideouts at the event. But the way he runs down the field, he's going to be one heck of a deep threat at wide receiver.  

Ruckert looks every bit the role of the top-rated tight end in the country — he's big (easily 6-foot-5 and 240 pounds) and has an extremely athletic and powerful frame. Some analysts seem concerned about the level of competition he faces at the high school level, but this week should go a long way in solidifying that standing atop the rankings.

Ruckert won't be the offensive focus of his 7-versus-7 team over the weekend, especially with a talented group of receivers on Team Alpha Menace that includes five-star Jalen Hall and four-stars Jordyn Adams, Kearis Jackson, Rondale Moore and the aforementioned St. Brown. And even though the quarterbacks at the event aren't likely to check down through their reads all the way to the tight end, Ruckert is bound to impress when he does actually get the ball in his hands.

Speaking of St. Brown, Ohio State is certainly in need of a slot receiver this cycle after missing out on Tyjon Lindsey earlier this year. He's listed at 6-foot and 190 pounds, but I'd be willing to say he's a little smaller than that. Even so, I was extremely impressed with his route-running and cutting ability in drills this afternoon.

One thing in particular that really stood out to me today was St. Brown's work ethic. It seemed as if every repetition needed to be better than the last. He's the type of player I'd want on my team, though Ohio State might have an uphill battle in his recruitment.

But more on that — as well as interviews with Babb and Ruckert — in tonight's edition of The Hurry Up.

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