July 9, 2012
The third annual Nike The Opening was going on this past weekend at the Swoosh Headquarters in Beaverton, Ore., with 150 of the best college football prospects in the country on hand to compete in various events.
Florida was well represented, as is usually the case, with 28 Sunshine State players among the representatives for what is arguably considered, the biggest recruiting event of the summer.
As with any event of this nature, however, there are people who get the snub. Jordan Reus, in particular, feels that way. Jordan Reus should have been in Beaverton.
He's not the only one, of course. There are, indeed, some big names who missed out. Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas DE Joey Bosa might jump out. Another glaring omission from the state is the top quarterback of 2013 Cord Sandberg of Bradenton Manatee. Those players did not participate in preliminary combines associated with the Nike and ESPN events.
Evans WR Dominic Walker was not invited, although he took part in all NIKE/ESPN events this spring. Walker had to sit back and watch teammate Tony Stevens, an equally talented receiver, enjoy the all-expenses-paid trip to Oregon.
The plight of Reus, a St. Cloud wide receiver, stands out. It's a saddening snub to anyone who roots for the underdog. Jordan (5-11, 170) isn't the biggest specimen. He's certainly not the most advertised.
He is speedy and athletic and the 2013 football prospect thougt he did what was necessary to get him invited to The Opening.
He had scored a national Top 10 SPARQ rating during the Nike/ESPN-sponsored nationwide combine circuit this spring. It's an incredible accomplishment considering that at each SPARQ Combine stop, more than a 1,000 athletes participated in the 15-city tour. Some stops had more than 3,000 participants in the free combines.
SPARQ is a measurement of Speed, Power, Agility, Reaction and Quickness. The athletic attributes are measured in a series of SPARQ Combine events – the 40-yard-dash, the 20-yard (5-10-5) shuttle run, the vertical leap and the 6.6-pound power-ball toss.
Reus was timed at 4.57 seconds (ploddingly slow for him) in the 40, 3.9 seconds in the shuttle (national best at the time), and recorded a 38-inch vertical and 38-feet power-ball toss to give him a total SPARQ score of 118.23 at the combine at Orlando-area West Orange High, where more than 1,400 athletes took part. His score was then changed to 119.28 due to an error.
That score, which was second in Orlando behind Yulee's Derrick Henry, stood up as Top 10 through the entire spring SPARQ combine series. Reus thought that would get him on a plane to Beaverton.
"It sucked watching it on TV because I know I could have made it to the Top 10 and competed with all of them," Reus said of watching the events this past weekend on ESPN. "It just didn't feel right the way that it happened because I thought I did everything I needed to do to get there.
"They told me they'd keep me posted and that I'd have a chance to make it. I think they had the players already picked out … the ones they wanted to be there."
Part of the issue for Reus is that he is somewhat of an unknown. He sat out all of last season with a knee injury and has no junior highlight film, nor does the senior-to-be have any scholarship offers. He came onto the scene with solid SPARQ scores last summer after a sophomore season that saw him catch 17 passes for 330 yards, six TDs and a near-20-yards-per-catch average.
His SPARQ score was, he still believes, good enough for an Opening invitation. Nothing was ever guaranteed, of course, but it was a fair enough assumption.
He watched the list of invited roster players grow as they were posted online, but his name never popped up. He was never contacted.
"I waited and waited and I would look at the 150 to see how many slots were left and next thing I know they were done," he said.
He was left with watching the event on TV. He even got text messages from some players who did make it to Oregon asking why he wasn't there.
"I didn't want to watch. But I had to … to see who I should have been competing against and to see where I could have ended up," Reus said.
He won’t waste the snub, using it instead for motivation.
“Not getting invited definitely fuels me to work harder to get noticed,” Reus said. “But it would have been great for exposure and people recognizing me as far as colleges and all that .. as far as working out I just put it in my head and it makes me work harder.”
He also knows he's not the only one licking his snub wounds.
"I talked to Dominic Walker about it. He's a great receiver, and he didn't get invited. He shoulda been there," Reus said.
Reus will just have to let his performances on the field determine his fate. Not that there’s anything wrong with the old-fashioned way.
It won't be easy. St. Cloud's quarterback of the past three seasons is gone. Phillip Steinmetz graduated. So too is much of the offensive line.
He could have transferred, like many players do in similar situations. His father Jim Reus said he wanted no part of that. He wanted to stick it out with his friends and finish where he started.
"He works his butt off," says dad. "He just needs that one little break."
Something tells me Jordan Reus will get that little break, and then some.
Chris Hays is the Sentinel's recruiting coverage coordinator and can be reached at email@example.com. Follow us on Twitter at @Os_Recruiting and Facebook at Orlando Sentinel Recruiting and now on Pinterest at Orlando Recruiting.
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