Salem Hills’ Porter Gustin admits he experienced some nerves prior to participating in Nike's The Opening last week in Beaverton, Oregon.
But who can really blame him or any of the other 162 high school football players invited to participate in what many consider the most elite prep camp of the offseason?
“Yeah, I was a bit anxious going in,” Gustin said. “You’re so used to what you’ve gone against and being the best player on the field most of the time, but you go there and everyone is a big recruit. Everyone is used to the same thing I was going in, which is what made it such a great experience.”
Gustin, a 6-foot-5, 240-pound linebacker, joined Osa Masina, a 6-foot-4, 215-pound linebacker from Brighton, and Andre James, a 6-foot-5, 275-pound offensive lineman from Herriman, as participants in the three-day event.
Camp attendees included a myriad four- and five-star prospects who are being courted by the top programs in the country. The camp included noncontact drills, contact drills, a SPARQ combine, and instruction from the very best in the game.
The event took place at Nike headquarters, with plenty of gear passed out and a lot of good food served.
“The facilities there are absolutely incredible and it was definitely a highlight touring everything they have there, but it’s hard to pinpoint just one experience I liked above the others,” James said. “The whole experience was incredible and something I’ll never forget.”
One thing that stood out for Gustin was the instruction provided by former and current NFL players.
“It was really eye-opening,” he said. “I think Trent Dilfer talking to us about social media and how nothing ever truly gets erased that you put out there online. That was great and I think the biggest message all of them had was to respect those who have gone before you, be humble and always seek out their advice. It’s something I’ll definitely try and do.”
Several top prospects decided to make commitments during the camp, including James, who announced publicly that he plans on signing with UCLA. The four-star lineman opted for the Bruins over offers from programs like Utah, USC, Ohio State, Oregon and Washington.
“It was a tough decision, but UCLA felt like home to me more than any of the other schools recruiting me,” James said. “It was hard to tell much difference between most of the other schools, but at UCLA I felt something different being there. It’s why I chose them and I’m very happy with my decision.”
While not making a commitment during the event, Masina was bumped from four stars to five stars by Scout.com based largely on his camp performance. The outside linebacker prospect also narrowed his recruiting list to five schools: Michigan, UCLA, Wisconsin, USC and Arizona State.
As for Gustin, he’s still carefully considering all his options. However, he says he feels like he proved to himself and others at The Opening that he’s equal to his more than 40 scholarship offers.
“I’m pretty confident in my abilities and I was happy with how I did,” Gustin said. “There’s some things I felt I could have done better, but I think I represented the state of Utah well. And both Andre and Osa, they definitely did as well.”
Gustin and Masina were roommates at the camp and quickly became friends with mutual respect for each other’s abilities.
“It made the whole experience that much better being there with guys like Osa and Andre,” Gustin said. “We’re proud to represent the state and show that we have some great football here in Utah. Hopefully more local athletes get the same opportunity to attend that we all did. It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life.”
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @BrandonCGurney
Copyright 2016, Deseret News Publishing Company