ROCKINGHAM — Some of the best high school football players in the country spent last weekend at the Nike World Headquarters to take part in The Opening.
The four-day program, which is sponsored by Nike Football, includes training, coaching and competition for its invitees.
Richmond Senior’s Tyrone Crowder was among those asked to participate in event in Beaverton, Ore. The rising senior declined the opportunity to be coached by current NFL offensive linemen including Pittsburgh Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey and Miami Dolphins center Mike Pouncey.
“I was invited but I didn’t go,” Crowder said. “I had second thoughts about going because I didn’t want to risk an injury.”
Crowder, who is ranked as the No. 2 guard in the 2013 class, was one of six players from North Carolina to receive an invitation for The Opening. Hillside was the only school from North Carolina to have two players invited — tight end Josh McNeil and safety Korrin Wiggins. Vance linebacker Larenz Bryant, Butler linebacker Peter Kalambayi and Tarboro defensive end Tyquan Lewis were also asked to attend the event.
The weekend’s activities was broadcast on ESPNU, but Crowder said he was only able to catch “a couple of minutes of it.”
In addition to highlighting the 7-on-7 competition as well as showing some of the individual drills, a handful of players announced their college decisions.
Others, like Crowder, are still undecided. Crowder has received scholarship offers from schools like Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Florida, Florida State and South Carolina. Crowder hasn’t narrowed his selections, but “I want to do it soon.”
Crowder named to team
While Crowder is focusing on selecting a college, he garnered another kind of honor this weekend — being named to the NCPreps.com all classifications preseason All-State team.
Crowder is the only player from a Southeastern Conference school to be selected to the squad.
“I didn’t know that,” Crowder said. “This is the first I am hearing about it. It’s a shock and an honor to be named to the team.”
Former Lumberton quarterback and current Mallard Creek wide receiver Marquez North was picked as the preseason player of the year. North grabbed 39 passes for 1,022 yards and 19 touchdowns as a junior. In addition, North returned four kickoffs for scores.
Raiders ranked in poll
Despite being knocked out in the first round of last season’s state playoffs, the Richmond Senior football team is ranked third in the NCPreps.com preseason 4A poll.
Butler and Mallard Creek are first and second in the initial rankings, followed by the Raiders. Jack Britt is ranked fourth, while defending 4A state champion Scotland rounds out the top five.
— Sports editor Shawn Stinson can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 14, or by email at email@example.com