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Eager for Beaverton

Beginning Monday, the top performers and prospects from this year's Nike football training camps will battle in The Opening at Nike headquarters in Beaverton, Ore.

For many players, it's a chance to catch up with friends they have met on the camping circuit this offseason, but it's also an opportunity to get a first look at guys they've heard about but never seen.

"I don't know many of the guys coming but I'm looking forward to meeting them and having some spirited competition," said Lakes (Lakewood, Wash.) offensive lineman Zach Banner.

The Opening, presented by Nike football, is a five-day program of training and competition that will put a spotlight on every part of the game. There will be a 7-on-7 tournament, a lineman challenge and the SPARQ Rating National Championship.

"Anytime you create an environment of competition for this caliber of athlete it is always fun to see how guys respond when they are truly challenged," said ESPN's director of recruiting Tom Luginbill. "I am very interested to see the overall accuracy of the quarterbacks when they are playing with guys they are not familiar with."

Of the 150 prospects invited, 59 of them are in the ESPNU 150 and the ones that aren't in the top 150 are certainly eager to prove they belong there.

"I'm ready to compete against the top guys in the nation to see where I'm at," said Oak Grove (San Jose) athlete Cleveland Wallace III. "Any competitor would jump at an opportunity like this."

Players will also have the opportunity to take full advantage of the coaching available for the event and use the time to work on areas they want to improve.

Texas commit Peter Jinkens, an ESPNU 150 linebacker from Dallas Skyline, is hoping to get some tips at the event.

"I'm really looking forward to the 7-on-7 stuff because I'm trying to improve my coverage and get that part of my game tighten up," Jinkens said. "Maybe they will put a couple of us future Longhorns on the same team."

Corvallis High School (Corvallis, Ore.) offensive lineman Isaac Seumalo is excited to compete, but he doesn't want to put too much stock into some of the drills.

"Everyone puts a lot of pressure on the one-on-ones, but it's just a competing event," Seumalo said. "On Friday nights, Saturday nights and Sundays in the fall is when the real action happens. Someone might really look great in one-on-ones but it doesn't mean they are that good when the pads come on."

Still the 6-foot-3, 280-pound Oregon State commit is ready to meet up with some friends he met on the camp circuit.

"I know most of the offensive linemen like Josh Garrett [Puyallup, Wash./Puyallup], Zach Banner and Eric Magnuson [Cardiff, Calif./La Costa Canyon]," Seumalo said. "It will be cool to hang out with those guys."

Luginbill says this event will be especially good for several prospects who will be switching positions in college. They will have several days to be coached and learn the nuances of their new position.

"It will be fun to see guys making a transition to another position like Joel Caleb [Richmond, Va./Clover Hill] at wide receiver," Luginbill added. "We love Dominic Ramacher [Denton, Texas/Guyer] and think he could really showcase himself in this environment. Tight end Christo Kourtzidis [Fullerton, Calif./Orange Lutheran] was getting a lot of attention in SEC/ACC country and recently committed to FSU so I am looking forward to seeing him."

The SPARQ ratings national championship would appear to favor linebackers and wide receivers based on the need to combine elite speed and strength, but Banner says not to dismiss the big guys.

"I'm very athletic for my size [6-8, 305 pounds] and my last 40 time with a 5.01 so I think I can compete for the overall title," Banner said. "I know the big guys generally dominate the strength events and lose points on the speed events but I can do both."

Still, expect the linebackers and cornerbacks to be the ones to beat. Last year, safety Ryan Henderson, a USC signee, won the event, edging out linebacker Jabari Hunt-Days, who signed with Georgia Tech.

Corey Long has been covering high school football and recruiting in the Sunshine State since 1995. He can be reached at coreyespn@gmail.com.