Every summer around this time, Student Sports and Nike host "The Opening", a showcase of the nation's top high school football talents. This weekend, players from all over the country will gather at Nike World Headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon to test their skills against the nation's elite.
Rutgers fans may want to keep an eye on The Opening this weekend, as three highly-regarded Rutgers targets will be taking part.
Drew Singleton (Paramus, NJ)
The four-star linebacker is the top recruit in the state of New Jersey, and has received upwards of 20 scholarship offers. Unfortunately, he seems like a longshot to end up at Rutgers, as Big Ten rival Michigan appears to be in the lead for his services.
Never say never, I suppose, as Rutgers appears to be making progress with Singleton's teammate, defensive tackle Corey Bolds. Since former Paramus Catholic head coach Chris Partridge joined Jim Harbaugh's staff at Michigan, the Wolverines have locked down recruiting PC prospects. But if Bolds ends up at Rutgers, perhaps the Scarlet Knights will have a shot at Singleton, too.
Singleton's invitation to The Opening should come as no surprise, as he has proven to be one of the most dominant defenders in the nation. A strong showing at The Opening could give him even more exposure. Singleton would be a big fish for Rutgers to land, so I wouldn't hold my breath.
Harrison Hand (Cherry Hill, NJ)
Hand has flown under a lot of radars up until now, but his invitation to The Opening could change that.
A three-star cornerback, Hand holds 10 offers, including scholarships from Rutgers, Pitt, Temple, Syracuse, and BYU. Obviously the organizers of The Opening see something in him, so I would imagine interest in Hand should grow in the coming weeks and months.
247Sports' Crystal Ball currently predicts a 100% chance Hand ends up at Rutgers. However, the most recent prediction came in May, and things have been very quiet on the Hand-Rutgers front lately. Even the recent flurry of commitments didn't stir much speculation around Hand.
With so many DBs already committed to the 2017 class, one could wonder if Hand would be a take for the coaching staff if he decides to commit to Rutgers, but it's hard to imagine Ash and company turning away a corner talented enough to make The Opening.
Markquese Bell (Bridgeton, NJ)
Of the trio of Rutgers targets attending The Opening, Bell has generated the most excitement out of the Rutgers community lately, and the Scarlet Knights seem to be in a good spot for him.
I wrote this piece on Bell last month, just hours before the recruiting surge that saw six commits pledge to Rutgers in five days. At the time, it seemed Rutgers was in good shape with Bell, as the program showed early interest in him, gives him an opportunity to play close to his family (something he values greatly), and made his most recent Top 13.
After adding those recruits and jettisoning themselves into the Top 20 recruiting classes nationally, one has to think Rutgers is now in an even better position to land Bell.
The Bridgeton product is a four-star athlete, and is listed as the No. 4 recruit in the Garden State. Rutgers will have to contend with an impressive offer list that includes Michigan, Penn State, Ohio State, Clemson, Ole Miss, Florida, Georgia, and others. But the Crystal Ball on 247Sports predicts a 78% chance Bell picks Rutgers.
Bell would be another huge addition to an already flourishing recruiting class, and he'll definitely be a name to watch this weekend at The Opening.