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July 9, 2012Future UNC A-Back Ryan Switzer got an opportunity this weekend to compete with and and against some of the nation's best players at The Opening, a prestigious summer event held at Nike Headquarters in Beaverton (Ore.).
The 5-9, 170-pound Switzer, with a freshly-shaved UNC logo in the back of his head, more than held his own---representing the Tar Heels very well with his playmaking ability throughout the weekend.
"Switzer is one of the smallest players on the field, but he is made for 7-on-7 play where he can do work in space. On Saturday, he had a few key drops, but Sunday was a much better day. Switzer was the No. 1 weapon for his team and caught numerous touchdown passes, some short and at least one long," said
Rivals.com national analyst Mike Farrell.
On Sunday Switzer helped lead his 7-on-7 team, 'Super Bad,' to the event championship, along the way earning All-Tournament honors. Rivals.com ranked Switzer the No. 3 top offensive skill player performance at the event.
Teaming up with future Alabama signal-caller Cooper Bateman, Switzer had three touchdown catches Sunday morning in helping his team advance to the Finals, and then he had a few more grabs in the title game.
"He (Switzer) changes direction so quickly and gets separation from safeties and linebackers with ease. He is also a primary check-down target. Despite looking a bit banged up by the end of the day (Sunday), he showed toughness as well," said Farrell.
Throughout the weekend Switzer received heavy praise not only from Rivals analysts, but others around the country there to watch him.
"Ryan Switzer is balling this morning!," tweeted ESPN analyst Tom Lugenbill in the midst of his three-touchdown game Sunday morning.
"In this setting (7 on 7) Switzer is pretty much uncoverable," said SBNation.com from the practice fields.
"Watch out for Ryan Switzer. What is he is a really good football player. He seems to be one of those guys that makes things happen," said one of the ESPNU commentators on national television during the semifinal round.
"(Saturday) we were a little on and off. We had some good streaks and then we had some easy drops that messed up our rhythm," Switzer told The Sporting News. "Today (Sunday) we just came out and got more familiar with it. Cooper (Bateman) is learning my routes and what I'm good at, and we've been clicking."
In Switzer, the Tar Heels have added a player capable of lining up in the slot or in a more traditional wide receiver role. He's also likely going to be employed as a rusher on certain plays like end-arounds, mis-direction plays and reverses.
With his ability to create separation from defenders, get open and make plays, there's little doubt he's going to be in position to become an integral part of the UNC's high-octane offense in the coming years.
The comparisons to New England Patriots standout Wes Welker have already begun.
And while Switzer has a long way to go before he can honestly be put in that kind of company, this weekend proved that the Tar Heels have gotten a good one---and one that's not afraid to rise up and compete against the nation's best when called upon.