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High School Recruiting

Local high school football players aim to shine in The Opening, a showcase in Oregon

All three University of Miami running back commits and the Canes’ biggest target at the position in the Class of 2015 will be among 162 of the best high school players in the country heading to Oregon on Sunday and Monday to participate in The Opening, the nation’s premier event of its kind.

Fourteen players from South Florida will participate in the event — held from Tuesday to Thursday at Nike World Headquarters in Beaverton — which gives players a chance to shine while participating in standardized athletic tests, 7-on-7 competitions for the skilled players and a linemen challenge for the big boys.

It will also be the first time Miami Westminster Christian’s Jordan Cronkrite, Winter Garden West Orange’s Dexter Williams, Miami Booker T. Washington’s Mark Walton and Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas’ Jordan Scarlett will be in the same place at the same time.

Cronkrite and Williams pledged in April to play running back for UM, while Walton threw his name in the 2015 mix just a few weeks ago. Walton committed to UM as a 2016 prospect in September of last year but reclassified in June to graduate a year earlier.

Scarlett could potentially add his name to that group, as UM and Florida State are among his favorite schools, with South Carolina and Ohio State also in the hunt. Scarlett decommitted from Florida Atlantic on June 27, just a day after visiting UM’s campus.

If Scarlett — who plans to make a decision at the end of his senior season — does commit to UM, a name or two could decide to go elsewhere.

Three’s already a crowd for Cronkrite, but he’s waiting to see how the other dominoes fall. Even if Williams was to decommit, Scarlett’s pledge to UM will force Cronkrite to look elsewhere. Cronkrite said Friday he’s “not running away from competition, but just being realistic” about the situation.

“I doubt I’d probably still be with UM,” said Cronkrite, who listed West Virginia, Ohio State, South Carolina and Florida as his other options. “I’d probably look somewhere else.

“[UM] said they’re bringing in two [running backs] and there’s three. There’s more time for me to be seen for the next level after college.”

Williams told 247Sports on June 3 that he was 80 percent firm in his pledge to UM, while enjoying the constant attention he was receiving from other schools. USC and Tennessee are gaining ground on Williams, whose family has a strong desire for him to stay closer to home and attend the University of Florida.

Walton, however, plans to stick it out with UM no matter how the situation unfolds.

“It doesn’t matter how many running backs are committed to the University of Miami,” Walton said. “That’s where I’m committed to.

“If Jordan [Scarlett] decides to commit to us, too — if all four of us go in — at the end of the day I’m still going to be a hard worker when we’re all out there.”

National Signing Day for the Class of 2015 is Feb. 4.

American Heritage quarterback/athlete Torrance Gibson headlines the group of at least 80 uncommitted players attending The Opening. Heritage cornerback Tarvarus McFadden, Miami Central wide receiver Da’Vante Phillips, Miami Killian safety Jaquan Johnson and Palm Beach Gardens linebacker Tevon Coney are also in that group.

Central safety Calvin Brewton and Miramar cornerback Tyrek Cole will be two of five FSU commits participating.

Miramar cornerback Kendrell McFadden and Miami Norland wide receiver Jovon Durante are the only two West Virginia commits in the event.

Monarch wide receiver Calvin Ridley and safety Shawn Burgess-Becker, two of Alabama’s 10 commits participating, round out the group from South Florida. Burgess-Becker was a late addition to the festivities, replacing UF commit Marcus Lewis from Gonzaga High in Washington.

This story was originally published July 6, 2014 12:00 AM.

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