Of the 150-plus players from around the country who competed in the Elite 11 camp and The Opening last week in Beaverton, Ore., no players shined brighter than Fort Lauderdale University School quarterback Sean White and Homestead wide receiver Ermon Lane.
White took home most valuable player honors in both events, topping the Elite 11 list of best quarterbacks around the country, and led his Field Generals 7-on-7 team to a 21-14 victory against Alpha Pro in The Opening final.
White’s biggest gain from both events has been the national exposure he has received after competing with and against his contemporaries.
“It’s pretty funny — I didn’t do anything different that I haven’t done before,” said White, who has interest from Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Arkansas, Ole Miss, Auburn, South Carolina and North Carolina. “Now it’s just on a bigger stage and it’s a national thing, so now everyone’s taking notice.
“It’s pretty cool to finally see my hard work paying off.”
White, a transfer from Hollywood Chaminade-Madonna, said he spent some time hanging out with Lane, who has also gained national exposure, especially through social media.
Lane, who has offers from Miami, Alabama and Florida, according to multiple recruiting websites, garnered some buzz with a celebratory Gator chomp after scoring a touchdown. He really hit the big time, appearing on numerous sites and ESPN SportsCenter’s “Not Top 10” countdown when he crashed into Fox reporter Amy Campbell doing an interview near the end zone after he secured another touchdown grab.
“It really made sports center,” Lane wrote on Twitter on Friday.
Miami Central running back and UF commit Dalvin Cook took credit for Lane’s Gator chomp.
“[Lane] pointed at me when he did it, and it made me feel like I’m doing my job,” Cook said. “I could be a recruiting coordinator next.”
Cook, who made The Opening’s all-tournament team with White and Lane, said he has spent most of his time hanging out with fellow UF commits quarterback Will Grier from Davidson Day (N.C.), defensive tackle Khairi Clark from Chaminade-Madonna, cornerback Duke Dawson from Cross City Dixie County and Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas defensive tackle Anthony Moten.
“It was actually kind of a funny connection because we all bonded together pretty quickly,” Cook said, “and it was like we were on the same page the first time we met each other.”
Cook, who said he was talking to Lane “all the time” throughout the festivities and was even on the same flight to Oregon, said he thought Lane and Grier developed a “great connection” while playing on the Alpha Pro team.
“I felt like [Lane] felt comfortable with [Grier],” Cook said.
During the event, UM running back commit Joseph Yearby, Cook’s Miami Central teammate, had his eyes set on wooing Lane to join him in Coral Gables. He didn’t like seeing Lane perform the Gator chomp, to say the least.
“I was like, ‘Aw man, don’t do it to me,’ ” Yearby said.
It didn’t stop Yearby from executing his pitch to Lane of “how we’re trying to build up the UM program again, trying to start it back over and trying to get that sixth ring.”
“I probably got a good chance at getting him,” Yearby said.
Yearby said he spent some time getting to know fellow UM commit Brad Kaaya, who attends West Hills (Calif.) Chaminade High and finished ninth in the final Elite 11 quarterback rankings. He also tried to court Miami Booker T. Washington teammates Treon Harris and Chad Thomas, who won MVP honors in the defensive lineman challenge.
Yearby and Cook were joined by Central teammate Trevor Darling, a UM offensive tackle commit. Central and University School, which also sent defensive lineman Richard Yeargin and safety Quincy Wilson, were two of just five schools in the country to send three players.
Yearby said he also took notice of White’s abilities as a quarterback during the 7-on-7 games.
“I never really saw him before until I got up there, but when I saw him, I was locked on to him,” Yearby said.
White and Yearby said getting to spend time and compete with their peers was one of the best parts of the experience.
White also took some joy in letting Lane and Yeargin know that he beat them three times during the playoff rounds en route to The Opening title.
“I just met so many new people, and I have so many friends I’m going to have for a long time, and that was one of the best parts,” White said.