Henry: East Texas football well represented at 'The Opening'
By Hayden Henry
July 5, 2014 at 10 p.m.
For the fourth-straight year, 162 of the top athletes descend on Nike's World Headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon, for a week of training, coaching and competition.
They're four-star and five-star athletess with accolades and accomplishments too many to list. They're the future to whichever collegiate program will win their services when that time comes.
And that's the key word there: time.
Most are heading into their senior season of high school. It's called "The Opening" - one of the last major events of the summer before fall practice kicks off in August.
But it could be the called "The Beginning" as it represents the beginning of the end for these elite players at the prep level.
Out of the 162 selected to the invitation-only event, 21 are from Texas. Of those 21, six call East Texas home.
Longview's JaMycal Hasty, Gladewater's Daylon Mack, Gilmer's Kris Boyd, Whitehouse's Justin Dunning, Nacogdoches' Jaylon Lane and Sulphur Springs' Larry Pryor will make the trek this week to compete and show what football fans around the area already know: that talent runs deep in East Texas.
Five of the six have already made their collegiate choices, with the Big 12 and Southeastern Conference well represented. They combine for nearly 100 collegiate offers among them.All six will be seniors this year.
Hasty has pledged to Baylor. Mack, Dunning and Pryor are solid commitments to Texas A&M. Lane, who leads the group with nearly 40 opportunities, has announced that Oklahoma State is his choice.
Boyd is taking his time, and with schools like Texas, Alabama, Florida State and LSU waiting in the wings, he's obviously heading to a big-time program.
Dunning and Pryor – both safeties – will get to show Aggie fans what their secondary will look like before long as they will represent team "Vapor Carbon" in Oregon. But until that time comes, it's the Wildcat and, well, Wildcat fans that get the opportunity to witness that talent.
Dunning's trek to Oregon is an inspiring one after the Whitehouse standout went out with an ACL injury during his junior season.
During his first football activity since the injury, Dunning (6-2, 200) impressed the Nike staff with a 4.59 time in the 40, a 37.3-inch vertical jump and a 108.48 SPARQ (speed, power, agility, reaction, quickness) score to earn his spot, according to Scout.com's Gabe Brooks.
Mack will join the pair in College Station but until then, it will be the Bear fans who will enjoy his dominating presence this fall.
Hasty will fit in well at Baylor with his speed (4.49 in the 40, 4.00 shuttle and 113.13 SPARQ score at the Dallas Nike Football Training Camp) and versatility, but it's the Lobos that will benefit first.
Lane will be a shutdown presence over the top at Oklahoma State next season, but until then, he's spearheading a potent Dragon secondary.
Boyd is mulling his choice, and any team that lands his "No Fly Zone" services will certainly benefit, but not before the Buckeyes garner the talent of one of the top cornerbacks in the country.
These six represent the vast talent pool in East Texas, and after their trip to Oregon, it's the East Texas fields they will take to next, and that's an opportunity that every football fan should take advantage of.
So while the nation will perhaps get the first of many looks at the six that come from the Piney Woods, it's the East Texas football fans who will be blessed to watch their own as the football season draws ever so close, not only from these six but from the vast amount of talent that comes from our own backyard.
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