27 Mar How Auburn commits performed at The Opening Atlanta Regional
BUFORD, Ga., — To say the least, The Opening Atlanta Regional was loaded. From top to bottom, the camp was stout, which comes as no surprise.
Year in and year out, recruits come from all corners of the Southeast to compete in this particular event. Sunday’s event was no different.
Three Auburn commitments took part and here are my thoughts. Complete testing numbers aren’t available so I’ll focus on the actual football part of the camp.
We start with quarterback Bo Nix of Pinson Valley (Ala.) All Nix did was win quarterback MVP honors over a field that included Taulia Tagovailoa, a 4-star signal caller from Alabaster (Ala.) Thomson, and Sam Howell, a 4-star prospect from North Carolina.
Nix started the event sharp in position drills. Then, when working with the receivers against air, he fired one strike after the other. During one-on-ones, the wind picked up significantly but while many quarterbacks struggled, Nix, Tagovailoa and Howell continued to — for the most part — shine.
On short and intermediate throws, Nix was particularly good. He spun it well and threw a very catchable ball with lots of zip.
In my opinion, Tagovailoa displayed arguably the strongest arm in the group. There is no doubt, he is very good. A few of his sideline throws were eye-openers. But Nix’s arm strength also was very solid — and his accuracy was unmatched Sunday. It’s only a camp, but with an Elite 11 spot on the line, there is pressure believe it or not. But you wouldn’t have known it the way Nix performed. He was poised throughout the event. He showed he’s capable of making all the throws.
In the end, camp organizers put the future Tiger at the top of their list of qurterback performers and he earned an invitation to the Elite 11 finals in June. For Nix, this was the second straight year he won MVP honors at this event. Sunday, his arm looked stronger than it did in 2017. He just looked more sharp. That’s a good sign.
If Nix has one thing to work on, it might be his deep passes. He wasn’t as sharp there as he was with his other throws, though for the record he was not bad.
One of Nix’s biggest goals in 2018 was to earn an Elite 11 invite. Mission accomplished for the 4-star Tigers pledge. It should be noted Nix also performed well the previous day during a 7-on-7 event northwest of Atlanta.
#Auburn commits Bo Nix and George Pickens connect at The Opening regional. pic.twitter.com/dxj9G3mIfi
— Keith Niebuhr (@Keith247Sports) March 25, 2018
Nix’s top target Sunday?
One of them was 4-star Auburn receiver commit George Pickens of Hoover (Ala.). Pickens made so many “wow” catches it was hard to keep track of them all. In testing, he ran a 4.72 40-yard dash, which is solid for someone his size (he’s in the 6-feet-5, 190-pound range).
But where Pickens really shined was in one-on-ones, showing off a set of hands that was second to none. Many of his spectacular grabs come off passes from Nix. In truth his routes were not as good as a few other receivers, but his height, reach, vertical and hands made you quickly forget about that. That performance was an attention-getter and had many at the camp talking about him.
Pickens does such a great job controlling his big body and looking the ball in, even when off balance. He has made these types of special catches since I first saw him compete at Auburn camp last summer. The future is bright.
The other receiver who really caught my eye (and everyone else on hand) was Georgia 5-star commit Jadon Haselwood of Ellenwood (Ga.) Cedar Grove. He’s also an Auburn target who has visited the Tigers twice since November.
If any receiver outperformed Pickens, then it was Haselwood, who has similarly elite hands, great size and might have been the best route runner on hand. But for sure, Pickens showed he might be among the best handful of receivers in the 2019 class. Whenever Haselwood wowed those on hand, Pickens soon after often did the same thing. I’d probably take Haselwood over any receiver out there. But for my No. 2 pick, Pickens certainly would be in the conversation.
The two put on a show. No doubt about that.
Earlier in the day, 2020 Auburn defensive line commit Andy Boykin of LaGrange (Ga.) Troup County, a 4-star recruit himself, competed against some of the top offensive linemen in the South. For Boykin, it was a little bit of a strange day.
He is used to playing defensive end, but after weighing in at 253 pounds, he was put at tackle. That took some getting used to since he hasn’t played there in a few years. There’s a different skillset needed at tackle than at the strong-side defensive end position, but Boykin acquitted himself well. He wasn’t dominant, but he flashed some skills (ie. quickness, power) that would be needed should he end up being a full-time tackle. He won some reps and lost some reps. But despite facing high-caliber — and often older — talent, he never got embarrassed.
Case in point:
In two reps vs. 4-star center Harry Miller of Buford (Ga.), the No. 63 overall recruit nationally in the industry generated 247Sports Composite, Boykin held his own. He didn’t win the reps. But he didn’t get clobbered either. In fact, he showed some serious strength against a player who probably was the best offensive lineman on the day in this event.
The ceiling appears to be high for Boykin.
2020 #Auburn DL commit Andy Boykin vs All-American 2019 center Harry Miller. pic.twitter.com/OwqPZTeyNu
— AUC Video (@AucVideo) March 26, 2018