The finals of Nike’s The Opening - the country’s premier high school recruiting event - will be held next weekend. The action, held on the Nike campus in Beaverton, Oregon, starts Friday and runs through Sunday.
There’s three main names to watch if you’re a South Carolina fan: RB Chase Hayden, the Tennessee product ranked in the top 32 at his position in the class on 2017 by 247; in-state 2017 phenom OrTre Smith; and another in-state product, stud DE Xavier Thomas. All three have been significantly targeted by the program, with Thomas probably the most likely to come to Columbia at this point out of the three (although things are very in flux right now). Hayden is set to announce within the next few months and will look to make a strong showing to boost his profile headed into his senior year; Smith will choose on his birthday, September 11; and Thomas’ choice is still a while off.
Other key Gamecocks targets will also be taking part - specifically N.C. linebacker Sherrod Greene. Greene, a linebacker, has been trending toward the Gamecocks and is set to make a decision at some point in the fall. Atlanta CB AJ Terrell and fellow Georgian Jamyest Williams also hold Gamecocks offers - but Hayden, Smith and Thomas are the big three to watch (along with Greene, although he's not received as much press but is still an important player) as Terrell and Williams aren't likely to end up here when it's all said and done.
The full roster of the players partaking can be found here. SB Nation’s recruiting analysts, led by Bud Elliott, will be on hand to get a close-up view all weekend, and we’ll pass along any pertinent info they provide.