Hinsdale Central senior tight end Ian Bunting traveled to Columbus, Ohio, on June 2 just so he might be selected for The Opening, a four-day football competition hosted by Nike.
Bunting missed the May 5 tryout date at Addison Trail because of prom. His performance at the Nike Football Training Camp in early June at Ohio State gained the desired results, drawing one of the event’s 10 invitations to The Opening, which features 162 of the country’s top high school prospects in Beaverton, Ore.
Bunting and fellow Hinsdale Central senior Brian Allen are a handful of teammates from the same high school expected to attend the third-annual The Opening, which will be aired on ESPNU. Bunting verbally committed to Michigan and Allen to Michigan State, reuniting with older brother Jack Allen, who will be a sophomore offensive lineman there this fall.
Current high school seniors are eligible to sign letters of intent on Feb. 5, 2014.
“My idea was that I went out there (to Columbus) and did my thing,” said Bunting, a 6-foot-6, 215-pound senior from Hinsdale. “I worked hard. I didn’t know if I would do enough to make it. I guess with the whole experience I did good. I did well enough to get an invite.”
“(The Opening) is a pretty special event,” said Allen, a 6-1, 285-pound Hinsdale resident and reigning state champion wrestler. “It will be a fun week of football. That competition that will be there is going to be the best stuff you’ll see. They are all big-name, committed guys.”
The 162 players have been divided up into six teams. Both Bunting and Allen were assigned to Team Vapor Carbon for a series of competitions measuring SPARQ training (speed, power, agility, reaction and quickness), a 7-on-7 tournament and a linemen challenge at the Nike headquarters.
The Hinsdale Central teammates will be joined on Team Vapor Carbon by Mount Carmel defensive lineman Enoch Smith Jr., a Michigan State recruit. Other Chicago-area players invited are Plainfield South linebacker Clifton Garrett, Crete-Monee linebacker Nyles Morgan and Montini defensive lineman Dylan Thompson (Ohio State). Another Illinois product is offensive lineman Tanner Farmer of downstate Highland.
Each of the six teams will be coached by current or former NFL players. Past coaches have included Ndamukong Suh, Drew Brees and Jerry Rice.
Many of the Chicago area players will fly out on the same flight Sunday. Allen’s father John plans to attend the competition, but will take a different plane. All expenses — including airfare — are covered by Nike.
“It’s going to be a blast,” Bunting said. “I think it will be really good opportunity. I not only have the opportunity to go, but I’ll be able to go with and be on the same team with Brian. I already know a couple of kids, like Enoch Smith of Mount Carmel.”