Fierce offensive, defensive line battles highlight The Opening 2019 N.J. regional | Who stood out among the DL?


There were tons of talent in Florham Park Sunday when The Opening 2019 N.J. regional came to town. But the competition was most fierce among the offensive and defensive linemen, which really got after it. One-on-ones were hard-fought, gritty and brought out the best in some of the attendees. Find out who stood out most, catapulting themselves towards the spring evaluation period, when offers go out.

We’ve already broken down the offensive line, but which defensive linemen stood out most?

Top DL performer

DL MVP Khurram Simpson, 2020 DL, Mater Dei

Simpson has really made a name for himself over the past two weeks after winning DL MVP at the Roman’s Soldiers Showcase and now at The Opening, which boasts the top opposition of any camp in the region. And he did it with technique, a quick first step, explosive hands and good shoulder dip and bend. No one could consistently stay in front of Simpson, who projects as a rush-end in a 4-3 defense or a 3-4 outside linebacker.

Next 5

Tre Williams, 2020 DT, St. John’s College (Washington, D.C.)

Williams won the majority of his one-on-ones Sunday, and had side fiery competition against the top interior offensive linemen in camp like MVP Joe Horn. A six-two-and-a-half, 306-pounder, he worked half-a-man and turned speed to power, allowing him to get to the orange cone more often than not. He also had the 22nd-best Nike training score (100.32 – third among defensive linemen) of anyone to attend. The Clemson commit wasn’t at his absolute best Sunday, but his effort was enough to get him to the Final 5, and ultimately, The Opening Finals.

Isaiah Raikes, 2020 DT, St. Augustine (Richland, N.J.)

Raikes competed with a strong motor, taking rep after rep along the interior, as well as some off the edge. He can really move for a 6-1, 324-pounder as displayed in some of his better reps of the day. He’s also developed his hands and overall pass rush repertoire, adding some misdirection, since last camp season. He can really get off the ball, but struggled with balance at times which allowed him to get washed out of various reps. Overall, he had a strong day, making the Final 5 and putting forth a competitive body of work, including the 18th-best Nike training score of anyone in camp (102.00 – second among defensive linemen).

Jahzion Harris, 2021 DL, Erasmus Hall (Brooklyn, N.Y.)

Only a sophomore, Harris has a long wiry frame and great get-off. In what was his first football camp, he ran a 4.7-second 40-yard dash, good enough for eighth-best among all linemen in camp. He’s a bit raw but uses quickness and athleticism to get to the QB and make disruptive plays in the back-field. I didn’t see him take many reps, but when he did, his signature quickness was on display, making him an ideal edge as the 6-4, 200-pounder matures and adds weight. He projects best as a Power Five rush-end or outside linebacker.

Josh Johnson, 2020 DL, Salem (N.J.)

Surprisingly, there weren’t many standout performances off the edge despite the talent at camp. A 6-4, 230-pounder, Johnson took advantage of his chance to shine, utilizing his length and cat-like agility to win the majority of his reps against the offensive tackles there. He has good developmental upside and is starting to come into his own. Look out for him as he continues to camp this off-season, as he can use this performance as a springboard into other confident showings.

Fadil Diggs, 2020 DL, Woodrow Wilson (Camden, N.J.)

Diggs didn’t take many reps, which prevented him from making the Final 5, despite being one of the headliners of the event. However, during those reps, he utilized his length and ability to bend around offensive tackles like a big cat to get to the cone, winning more reps than he dropped. He’s all of 6-5, 228 pounds and has great upside which has him being offered at three positions: defensive end, tight end and outside linebacker. Although he may not have been at his best Sunday, he was still one of the more physically talented athletes along the defensive line.

Best of the rest: Keith Miles Jr., 2022 DL, St. Peter’s Prep (Jersey City, N.J.); Cameron Horsley, 2020 DL, Cinnaminson (N.J.); Nathan Martey (made the Final 5 along with Simpson, Williams, Raikes and Johnson), 2021 DL, Gridiron Academy (QC); Broadus Brown, 2021 DL, Christ the King (Middle Village, N.Y.); Zephron Lester, 2020 DL, Chris the King; Tywone Malone, 2021 DL, Bergen Catholic (Oradell, N.J.)

Todderick Hunt may be reached at thunt@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @TodderickHunt. Find NJ.com Rutgers Football on Facebook.



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