SB Nation 'crootin expert Bud Elliott flew to Oregon for Nike's The Opening 7-on-7 event just over a week ago. The Shea Patterson-led Lunarbeast went 0-4 on the tournament's first day but then went undefeated on Sunday to claim the event championship. After The Opening, Patterson was named the winner of the Elite 11 competition, an evaluation of the best prospects from around the country.
I caught up with Bud to get his take on the week.
Bud, in speaking of the importance of 7-on-7 tournaments and the evaluations they allow, said, "I don't take a ton from it, because I expect the offenses to dominate. If a QB really struggles reading coverages and anticipating without a rush in his face, that is a cause for concern and a signal that he may take longer to develop. For receivers, it allows me to see if they catch the ball with their hands."
For those of you who are unaware of the general format of The Opening, there's a piece explaining the tournament here.
On Shea Patterson
Bud didn't get to see the non-football section mentioned in the piece, but he did see the actual tournament and some of the Elite 11 that pertained to actual football.
He said that Shea Patterson's team struggles were "absolutely" caused by the coach's decision to cycle through all the quarterbacks on his roster. When he went with Patterson throughout the second day of the tournament, he was "head and shoulders better as a 7-on-7 quarterback than the other two quarterbacks." Obviously the Elite 11 staff agreed.
He compared Patterson's game to the other quarterbacks at the event, saying that he "throws with better anticipation" due to his football IQ and ability to read coverages. He also lauded Patterson's ball placement. Patterson was putting the ball just where it needed to be all day on Sunday. Receivers rarely had to break their strides. This resulted in Patterson's 15:1 TD:INT ratio, a stunning number against elite competition.
On Shea's Lunarbeast Teammates
Bud said that Tyrie Cleveland and Mecole Hardman were the biggest standouts on Lunarbeast (aside from Patterson). In the portions of the tournament I actually got to see, Cleveland and Patterson had an obvious connection and understanding of where the other was going. Cleveland is very, very fast and 6'3". I didn't notice Hardman as much in what I saw, but Bud was intrigued by his speed and shiftiness. Ole Miss has offered both prospects, but Hardman's 5'10" height doesn't really fit what the Rebels generally look to do at the receiver position. Cleveland, on the other hand, would be a huge get. I haven't seen or heard anything to suggest there's interest there, unfortunately.
I asked Bud about Ole Miss commitment DK Metcalf, a highly rated four-star wide receiver from Oxford. He wasn't as impressed with Metcalf, noting that "he did not show explosiveness" but also pointing out that players like Metcalf often struggle in 7-on-7 situations because their physicality can't be used as easily.
On Shea Patterson transferring to IMG
I asked about whether there were prospects at IMG Academy (where Patterson will be transferring) that Shea might be able to bring with him to Oxford. Bud singled out Drake Davis (who he mentioned in our first interview as well). When I asked specifically about Isaac Nauta, the #1 tight end in the country and a current Florida State commitment, Bud mentioned that he didn't think there was interest there from Nauta.