Alabama quarterback commitment Blake Barnett was named the Elite 11 MVP at The Opening in Beaverton, Ore., on Thursday.
Barnett, who attends Santiago High School in Corona, Calif., received the honor after leading his 7-on-7 team to the championship.
“It's been awesome," Barnett said, according to BamaOnline. "It's been a great ride and a great experience so far. It's relieving to be able to come here and get the results that you wanted. To be able to compete with the best and be coached by the best, it's extremely honoring.”
Barnett earned the award as analysts raved all week about his performance against some of the nation’s top competition.
Alabama commit Blake Barnett named Elite 11 MVP. Totally deserved. He lit it up from the start and never stopped.— Paul Myerberg (@PaulMyerberg) July 11, 2014
Barnett’s strong play won’t be the only story from the week that excites Alabama fans. His future teammate at Alabama, wide receiver Calvin Ridley from Monarch High School in Pompano Beach, Fla., was named the MVP of the event.
“Calvin is an excellent receiver and he showed that on the field,” Barnett said. “I think that's what separates him. I think Alabama's going to have a very strong class this year
The play of Barnett and Ridley led Barrett Sallee of Bleacher Report to predict they will be the next great quarterback-receiver combo in the SEC. Sallee wrote in part:
“The Crimson Tide is at its best when it has a couple of solid receivers that can get open downfield to take the top off a defense. Ridley is that guy, and Barnett is the guy to get him the ball. Get used to ‘Barnett to Ridley,’ because it will be a dominating theme in the SEC for years to come.”
Prospects like Barnett and Ridley are helping Alabama continue their dominance on the recruiting trail. The Crimson Tide has the nation’s No. 1 ranked 2015 class with 19 commitments.
SEC leads the way in commitments
It was a successful week for SEC schools hoping to land commitments from prospects at The Opening.
As we predicted last week, four prospects committed to SEC schools this week in Beaverton. Here’s the haul and the reasoning behind their choices, courtesy ESPN:
CB Xavier Lewis (Reserve, La.) – LSU
Why: “My decision was based on coaches’ trust, the stadium, the crowd, everything about the university. I loved it.”
DT Kahlil McKenzie (Concord, Calif.) - Tennessee
Why: “It’s just a second home. Everything about it I love from top to bottom. Everything about it was just a perfect fit for me.”
LB Josh Smith (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) – Vanderbilt
Why: “(Academics were) a very big factor in my commitment. Vanderbilt has a great medical (school) and great academics. I want to be a biomedical engineer so I couldn’t ask for any better academics.”
RB A.J. Turner (Clifton, Va.) – South Carolina
Why: “I just love everything about South Carolina. I love the town, the people, the college itself, the history, the football because it’s the SEC, big-time football. Just the opportunity that I’m going in to play.”
Tennessee commit confident
There was obviously excitement among Tennessee fans when McKenzie, who was named the defensive line MVP at The Opening, announced his commitment to Tennessee.
No one appeared more excited than Alpharetta, Ga., defensive end Andrew Butcher, who’s been committed to Tennessee for more than a year.
Well then RT @ButcherAndrew1: I can't wait to beat Alabama's ass with my boys.— Ben Frederickson (@Ben_Fred) July 11, 2014
That might get the attention of several Alabama players. With the Crimson Tide owning a seven-game winning streak against Tennessee, the rivalry could use a little spice.
Butcher was initially unconcerned about the backlash after he hit the “send" button. But he later deleted the tweet above, along with a follow-up message that read, "Bring the hate I DONT CARE."
Merritt wins SPARQ battle
Athlete Kirk Merritt from Destrehan (La.) High School won the Nike SPARQ National Championship at The Opening.
Merritt, who is considering Alabama, Auburn, LSU, Texas A&M and Oregon, edged out defensive end Josh Sweat to win the competition, which measures players on speed, quickness, upper-body explosiveness and vertical leap.
Sweat’s performance was no less impressive considering his position. The standout from Oscar Smith High School in Chesapeake, Va., showed why he’s ranked the nation’s No. 1 defensive end by ESPN.
Just talked about No. 1 DE Josh Sweat with No. 1 OL Mitch Hyatt, who tells me: "You have to be perfect against him. Otherwise you're done."— Tyler Donohue (@TDsTake) July 10, 2014
The interest in Sweat will only increase. Virginia Tech appears to be the favorite to land the in-state standout, who's also shown interest in Georgia, Tennessee, Florida State and Ohio State.