Notes: The Opening arguments


The first installment of Nike’s new elite event, The Opening, was held last week at their headquarters in Beaverton, Ore. It was a huge success on and off the field.

It’s never a bad idea to get a bunch of five- and four-star players to compete against one another.

A few Gator verbal commitments and several prominent targets fared well. Here’s a breakdown:

Marcus Maye, the Gators’ No. 1 (and only) safety target, continues to pile up accolades. The 6-foot, 194-pounder from Melbourne, Fla., was named to the “All-Opening” team after another phenomenal performance. He loves to compete and has shown it all spring and summer by participating in just about every camp and combine he can get to. Maye displays great range, coverage skills and instincts.

• Cornerback Chris Bivins, the 6-0, 166-pounder from Gainesville, Fla., was a standout all week, but it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience last Tuesday that he’ll tell his future children about. Bivins was the only corner who got to go one-on-one with legendary Hall of Fame wide receiver Jerry Rice, who is now 48-years-old. “Something I’ll never forget,” Bivins said. “It was real fun, he was real cool about. He beat me, but it wasn’t bad. The pass was perfect, so I couldn’t have done nothing about it. Otherwise I would have locked him up. He lined up in his stance and I was like, ‘Is he gonna go against me? I’m fixin’ to smash him, he’s too old.’ He broke and did a come-back. I was like, ‘Aw man.’ It was like a 20-yard comeback. I thought he was gonna run a fly.” Bivins, who also ran one of the fastest 40-times with a 4.42, had a tremendous week and is making a strong push for four-star status.

• Once again, Derrick Henry (6-3, 235, Yulee, Fla.) stood out as the most physically imposing player in attendance, despite being a rising junior. Even though he insists he is a running back, Henry showed off great hands as a tight end last weekend. The fact that he was willing to step out of the backfield and play TE has to encourage college coaches. The lifelong Gator fan also reiterated that Florida is still the early leader in his recruitment.

• Gator offensive line targets Patrick Miller (6-7, 270, Palm Beach, Fla. Dwyre) and Kyle Murphy (6-7, 268, San Clemente, Calif.) are very similar players who performed well and were singled out for praise. Murphy was reportedly very consistent, while Miller showed off a mean streak not typically seen of the mild-mannered OT. Florida verbal Jessamen Dunker (6-6, 315, Boynton Beach, Fla.) also did well but reportedly needs to improve his technique and strength. He’s always been considered a raw talent and may slide inside to play guard at the next level.

• Some of the defensive linemen who stood out included two west coast defensive tackles — Ellis McCarthy (6-4, 310, Monrovia, Calif.) and Aziz Shittu (6-3, 275, Atwater, Calif., Buhach) — both of whom continue to list Florida among their top schools. Another DT interested in the Gators, Danny O’Brien (6-2, 293, Flint, Mich.), was noted for his intensity and mean streak.

• UF running back pledge Mike Davis (5-10, 190, Stone Mountain, Ga., Stephenson) was among the top backs and was lauded by scouts for his level of competitiveness and his completeness in terms of running, catching and blocking. Gator wide receiver verbal Latroy Pittman (6-1, 195, Citra, Fla., North Marion) impressed with his hands and route-running and productivity. He looks like a very solid possession receiver.

• Other Gator targets who stood out: safety Landon Collins (6-0, 205, Geismar, La., Dutchtown), who won the SPARQ national championship; cornerback Tracy Howard (6-0, 175, Miramar, Fla.), who was avoided by most QBs; linebacker Kwon Alexander (6-2, 210, Oxford, Ala.), who impressed with his speed; and last but definitely not least, athlete Nelson Agholor (6-1, 180, Tampa, Fla., Berkely Prep), who was stellar as a receiver but may be even better at the safety position in college.

Rivals at 10

To celebrate 10 years online, Rivals is spitting out a week of lists, and the Gators were well-represented.

Florida had two of the top 10 recruiting classes from the first decade of (the classes from 2002 through 2011). The Gators’ Class of 2007 (Pouncey twins, Joe Haden, Carlos Dunlap, Aaron Hernandez, Ahmad Black, Major Wright, Cam Newton) was rated No. 10. And UF’s legendary Class of 2006 (Tim Tebow, Percy Harvin, Brandon Spikes, Riley Cooper, Marcus Gilbert, Jermaine Cunningham) came in at No. 1.

National analyst Mike Farrell posted his top 10 recruiting battles of the last 10 years, and the Gators are involved in No. 1 C.J. Spiller (chose Clemson), No. 5 Derrick Williams (Penn State) and No. 6 Tebow (duh).

Rivals also compiled its overall top 25 schools in recruiting rankings, and the Gators came in at No. 3 behind Southern Cal and Georgia and just one point ahead of LSU.

Another list for Floridians

Another Rivals site,, recently ranked the top 160 players in the state. In addition to having dozens of highly ranked targets among the undecided prospects, the Gators have seven commitments on the list: Dunker (9), RB Matt Jones (12), CB Brian Poole (17), LB Jeremi Powell (25), DT Dante Phillips (31), Pittman (37) and DB Willie Bailey (111).

Miami dominates the list with 14 verbals, while Florida State is running third with five.

Analyst Tom Loy dissected the top 10 players.

Follow me on Twitter @JeffBarlis for recruiting updates and insight.


  1. I watched the Opening on ESPNU and I found that Marcus Maye, Landon Collins, Nelson A. and Tracy Howard are must haves! Those guys played great for their respectable teams. I heard the Tracy has Miami and UF at the top right now and Landon has LSU and ALA amoung his top two. Do you see any truth to this Jeff. Also GREAT JOB on the blogs, just hoping there is more to read during the week!

  2. It almost seems as if UF knows they can have Bivins if they want him and are waiting on what some of the other top corner prospects will do…he has made it very clear he would be a Gator in a heartbeat…he will be offered late in the game…agreed a great story he will have memories of forever.