Gorman: McKenzie, Nicholson draw 'The Opening' invite
TribLIVE Sports Videos
When Shai McKenzie was left off the ESPN150 recruiting rankings, Washington coach Mike Bosnic wondered what it would take for his tailback to improve his stock.
Bosnic asked ESPN regional recruiting analyst Jared Shanker for advice, and Shanker suggested there “would be a lot of eyeballs” at the Nike Football Training Camp in Columbus, Ohio.
Gateway receiver-safety Montae Nicholson also went to Ohio State last Sunday in an effort to improve his national ranking.
McKenzie and Nicholson left with all-expenses-paid invitations to the third annual “The Opening,” a camp for national top-150 prospects from June 30 to July 3 at Nike headquarters in Beaverton, Ore. And they did it the old-fashioned way.
“It's a pretty select few,” Shanker said. “As far as the national profile goes, for someone who follows recruiting it will immediately get their attention because it's an elite camp.
“It will give them a really good shot to boost their ranking. If a guy does really well there, you have no choice but to move him up a little bit.”
Nicholson, who already has offers from schools such as Oregon and Stanford, is being recruited mostly as a safety but won Most Valuable Player honors at wide receiver at the Nike camp in Columbus.
“He was impressive,” Shanker said. “If you look at the list of guys there, wide receiver and defensive back were the two strongest positions. He caught two touchdowns in one-on-ones or seven-on-sevens. The few times I watched him as a defensive back, he didn't have the ball thrown his way but still showed the range.”
McKenzie was so impressive that he was regarded as the second-best back at the camp, behind only Jalen Hurd of Hendersonville, Tenn., a Tennessee recruit. McKenzie shined in pass-blocking drills, using his strength to pancake a pair of linebackers.
“Any time an offensive player does well in those, it's worth noting,” Shanker said.
Shanker also said he saw McKenzie catch a pass out of the backfield and stiff-arm a defender.
What's most impressive about McKenzie and Nicholson is that they missed most of the camp circuit because of track and field, yet were willing to go to a regional camp and compete.
Clairton's Tyler Boyd did the same thing last summer, in an effort to try to earn a fifth star from recruiting services. It didn't propel him to a top-150 ranking but raised his national profile.
McKenzie and Nicholson should be thrilled to have a chance at “The Opening” to close their case for top-150 status.
Kevin Gorman is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @KGorman_Trib.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Steelers notebook: Brown calls Sanders’ comments about Roethlisberger ‘terrible’
- Rossi: Pirates must land Lester
- Joe Greene only 2nd player in Steelers history to get number retired
- After years of lobbying, Big Ben has Steelers running the no-huddle
- Steelers hold high hopes for pass defense
- Pirates notebook: Trade rumors for Red Sox pitcher Lester still swirling
- Glassport police name new chief
- Beloved teacher at 3 Western Pa. schools hears from students across nation
- Elizabeth Township police chief put on leave, manager terminated
- McKeesport home invasion suspect waives extradition
- Area first responders interact at active-shooter workshop