THE RECRUITING GUY:

State prospects see a chance to slip into Opening

By: Richard Davenport
Published: Friday, April 4, 2014
Pine Bluff tight end Will Gragg (right) catches a pass as Bryant linebacker David Nossaman (8) defends during the first quarter Friday, Oct. 4, 2013 in Bryant.
Photo by Jimmy Jones
Pine Bluff tight end Will Gragg (right) catches a pass as Bryant linebacker David Nossaman (8) defends during the first quarter Friday, Oct. 4, 2013 in Bryant.

Arkansas has been well-represented in the past at The Opening, the premier event for high school football prospects held during the summer at Nike headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon, and it’s likely this year won’t be any different.

Several of the state’s top junior and sophomore prospects will participate Saturday in the Dallas Nike Football Training Camp at DeSoto High School. The event is one of 14 similar events conducted across the nation that help determine the 162 athletes invited to The Opening.

Arkansas defensive line signee Bijhon Jackson of El Dorado and Springdale Har-Ber defensive lineman Josh Fraizer took part in The Opening last year.

Pine Bluff junior tight end Will Gragg, North Little Rock junior receiver K.J. Hill, sophomore running back Denzel Mitchell of Jonesboro, sophomore defensive end McTelvin Agim of Hope and sophomore receiver Jordan Jones of Smackover, and Parkers Chapel freshman running back Dezmon Jackson are expected to participate in Dallas.

Hill hopes to become the Charging Wildcats’ third athlete to be invited to The Opening. Running back Altee Tenpenny participated in 2011 and 2012, and cornerback Kavin Alexander took part in last year’s event.

“I think K.J. will do really well,” North Little Rock Coach Brad Bolding said. “I think he’ll do well in the one on-ones. Running routes is his specialty, so I think he has a legitimate shot.”

Hill, 6-0, 178 pounds, 4.42seconds in the 40-yard dash, was named the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette’s offensive player of the year after recording 63 receptions for 1,143 yards and 16 touchdowns last season. He already has scholarship offers from Arkansas, Alabama, Auburn, Ohio State and Oklahoma State.

“They like to get guys at these training camps that have several offers, and I think they really try to be legitimate for The Opening and try to get the best 150 guys that they can get,” Bolding said.

“I think it says a lot to have that opportunity.”

The event will feature a combine in the morning and a football training session in the afternoon that will allow athletes to go one-on-one against the best of the best in the region.

Each year a few sophomores receive invitations to The Opening, and Agim and Mitchell are solid candidates to receive one.

Agim, 6-2, 245, 4.68, recorded 77 tackles, including 32 for loss, and 16 sacks this past season and was named the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette’s sophomore defensive player of the year. He has scholarship offers from Arkansas, Baylor, Oklahoma, Clemson and Ole Miss.

“He loves to compete,” Hope Coach Jay Turley said of Agim.

“Any chance he gets, it excites him. He feels like he wants to be the best at his position in the country. It’s just another way to show people what he’s about.”

Mitchell, 6-0, 208, 4.41, rushed 155 times for 1,391 yards and 9 touchdowns this past season and was named to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette’s Super Sophomore team. He has scholarship offers from Arkansas, Ole Miss and Arkansas State.

Jonesboro Coach Randy Coleman is optimistic about Mitchell’s chances of earning a spot for the national event.

“I think he definitely hasa chance,” Coleman said. “The one thing that might hold him back a little bit is the winter weather and we haven’t had a regular workout regiment the last couple of months. He’s just now getting into shape, but the one thing I know about Denzel is that’s he’s going to compete.”

Jackson placed 108th out of 1,288 athletes March 2 at the Houston Nike SPARQ Combine. Only one other freshman scored higher.

Jackson 5-10, 189, 4.56, rushed for 820 yards and 12 touchdowns in 6 games last season.

“He’s very excited about the opportunity,” Parkers Chapel Coach James Housdan said. “He did well at the one in Houston, and he wants to go and do better. You have to like him for that and not being satisfied with that.”

VISITING THE HOGS

Tight end Josh Moore, 6-5, 253 pounds, 4.79 seconds in the 40-yard dash of Olathe (Kan.) North plans to visit Arkansas for Saturday’s scrimmage. He has scholarship offers from Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri, Texas Tech and TCU.

Defensive end Marquavius Lewis, 6-4, 270, of Hutchinson Community College in Kansas also is expected to visit. He has scholarship offers from Arkansas, South Carolina, Auburn, Kansas State, West Virginia and others.

Lewis is expected to graduate in December and will have three years to play two.

E-mail Richard Davenport at rdavenport@arkansasonline.com

Sports, Pages 21 on 04/04/2014

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