Five commits, several targets and the most talked about recruit in America of late – that's what kind of personnel with Alabama ties will attend The Opening, the annual Nike event that pits the top 150 rising seniors against each other at the brand's headquarters in Oregon.
As one would imagine, the schools represented in the commit department is top-heavy and reflects the current Scout.com rankings to a degree. The Crimson Tide have the fifth most committed prospects in attendance, while holding the No. 6 ranked 2013 Class in the country (as of July 5). Only Florida, USC, Georgia and Michigan have more verbal pledges headed to Oregon.
-Reuben Foster: The most talked about recruit in America of late heads out to Oregon on the heels of a visit to the University of Georgia, in which he called his "best visit yet." The Alabama pledge and No. 1 linebacker in the land says, however, that he remains firm on his oral commitment to the Tide. The competition will give him a chance to worry about football and not so much where he is going to sign on Letter of Intent day 2013.
-Cooper Bateman: The fourth-ranked quarterback in the country is quite the opposite of Foster considering he is solid to ‘Bama with no hesitation. Many of the analysts in the South have not been able to see the 6-foot-3, 205-pounder in action considering he's from Utah – so The Opening will be their chance.
Said Southeast recruiting manager Chad Simmons, "Being from the South, I have heard a lot of buzz down here about him since he committed to Alabama. I know (West analysts) Brandon Huffman and Greg Biggins are high on him, so I am interested in seeing what the Crimson Tide is getting in him."
-O.J. Howard: With all the buzz surrounding which tight end may join the ide pledge in the Class of 2013, let's not forget about Howard's natural skill. The No. 2 player in Scout's TE rankings is the leanest of the targets and has continued to thrive in camp settings. Could a solid showing from the in-state talent lead to a vault to the top spot in the rankings?
-Maurice Smith: Less than a month after he committed to Nick Saban's staff, the dynamic cornerback will get to represent his school of choice against some of the best wide receivers in high school football. His exceptional size (6-foot-1, 175 lbs) could create problems even for fellow Lone Star State wideout Ricky Seals-Jones (6'5''/215), who will have a chip on his shoulder since his recent de-commitment from Texas is still fresh on the mind of many.
-Altee Tenpenny: The four-star running back committed to Alabama just before National Signing Day 2012, and has been blazing at camps ever since. He was disappointed with a 4.47 40-yard dash in May coming off of a 4.3 performance just before. With three of the top five RBs in America set to attend, Tenpenny has the chance to steal the spotlight from Ty Isaac and company with a gaudy performance.
Nearly 20 additional The Opening attendees hold Alabama verbal scholarship offers, and more than half are still considering the Crimson Tide at this stage of their individual recruitments. We'll take a look by position group.
Running Back: Five-star Yulee (Fla.) back Derrick Henry is the top undeclared prospect on the board for many schools, with ‘Bama being one of them. He recently named the Tide as his leader, but the former Georgia commit is still considering the Bulldogs along with Tennessee, Clemson, USC and Oregon. Big back Derrick Green (5'11''/220) runs harder than most, so it will be interesting to see how he performs without the pads. It's a different story for Alvin Kamara, the speedy Norscross (Ga.) tailback that usually thrives at events like The Opening. Each RB holds a UA offer and each will have a lot to prove over the weekend.
Defensive Back: Any and every list of the top DBs starts with Vernon Hargreaves III. The top cornerback in America hasn't been outside of home state Florida just yet, but he plans on seeing Alabama on the way back from The Opening along with some of the other top programs around the country. Brendan Langley of Marietta (Ga.) Kell is a step further in the process and will commit in late August. He recently mentioned that the Tide was one of four schools recruiting him the hardest. Former ‘Bama commit Artie Burns will be in Oregon as well, and he maintains that that a re-commitment isn't out of the question although he lists five additional schools that he is currently considering. Another Floridian looking to make a splash, like Hargraves and Burns, is William Likely. The Glades Central standout holds an offer from the Crimson Tide, but may be looking elsewhere at this point.
Defensive Line: Three of the top 10 defensive ends in the country will not only be at The Opening, but they are all considering Alabama in the process. Demarcus Walker's stock has risen steadily throughout the spring and the televised opportunity in Oregon could propel him closer to the top 50 with a good showing. The Florida Gators are the team to beat for Walker, but he is still a month away from a decision. The Tide may be ahead for Kendell Beckwith, a defensive end from Louisiana that projects as a linebacker at the next level. The athlete also plays quarterback for his high school, versatility that Nick Saban covets and may land sooner than later. California product Joe Mathis plans on deciding in January, and ‘Bama cracked his top 10 - announced last month. The Tide is chasing Pac-12 schools for the No. 10 DE's services, but he doesn't have his official visits planned just yet.
Other: Alabama is in the top five for the nation's No. 2 linebacker Matthew Thomas, who plans on taking an official visit to Tuscaloosa before making a decision. The third-ranked offensive guard in the rankings, Tyrone Crowder, called his trip to the Alabama campus "one of my top visits" and he plans to trim his list to five sooner than later while fellow North Carolina prospect Josh McNeil just pushed his decision back. The No. 4 tight end in America was set to announce at The Opening between Alabama and Georgia, but opened things back up to five schools including Miami, Florida and Washington State. McNeil will hold a press conference sometime in August to announce his selection.
For the best coverage of The Opening from the FOX Sports NEXT team, continue to visit the hub HERE, which will be updated throughout the competition.