Football: Nike event includes state's top prospect, UK hopefuls

broberts@herald-leader.comJuly 7, 2014 

The No. 1 football prospect in the state and one of the University of Kentucky's top commitments are among dozens of highly touted recruits who will compete at Nike's premier summer event in Oregon this week.

The Opening in Beaverton, Ore., features 162 football prospects from around the country — mostly from the class of 2015 — and will be shown on ESPNU over the next three nights.

The cable network will broadcast The Opening on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday with two hours of coverage starting each night at 8 p.m.

Viewers in Kentucky will be focused on Madison Southern standout Damien Harris, who ranks as the No. 1 running back in the country. Harris is still considering Kentucky and several other schools, including Ohio State, Alabama and Michigan.

Ohio tight end C.J. Conrad will be the lone Kentucky commitment at the camp, which was attended last year by future UK quarterback Drew Barker and wide receiver T.V. Williams.

Conrad, a four-star recruit who plans to enroll at UK in January, told the Herald-Leader last month that he plans on doing a little recruiting at the event, and specifically noted at the time that Harris would also be in attendance.

Four-star linebacker Josh Smith of Murfreesboro, Tenn., will also be there and plans to announce his college decision at The Opening, most likely during the televised portion Tuesday or Wednesday night.

Smith has narrowed his list of schools to Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Penn State and Purdue. As of Monday afternoon, the Commodores had 100 percent of the predictions on Smith's 247Sports Crystal Ball page.

His older brother, safety Emmanuel Smith, will be a freshman at Vanderbilt this season.

Other players for UK fans to keep an eye on include offensive lineman Darryl Williams, defensive back Marcus Lewis and wide receiver Lawrence Cager.

Williams, a four-star prospect from Bessemer, Ala., lists Kentucky among his top schools. If a scholarship offer from nearby Auburn doesn't pan out, the Wildcats might be considered the favorite in his recruitment.

Lewis, a four-star recruit from Washington, D.C., is currently committed to Florida, but he strongly considered UK before making that pledge and remains in contact with the Wildcats coaching staff.

He is also a high school teammate of new UK commitment Jabari Greenwood and was present when Greenwood and Darius Fullwood committed to UK a couple of weeks ago.

Cager, an up-and-coming recruit from Maryland, is a 6-foot-5 receiver who plans to visit Kentucky on July 18.

The Opening will feature training and instruction from current and former NFL players. The event also includes 7-on-7 games that will be televised on ESPNU, with the 7-on-7 championship set for Thursday's broadcast.

Ben Roberts: (859) 231-3216Twitter: @NextCatsBlog:

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