At the Nike 7ON tournament, the future is now

If you watched the 2004 Nike 7-on-7 passing camp tournament, it might have been your first look at then-high school recruits and tournament MVPs Mark Sanchez(notes) and DeSean Jackson(notes). MVP Jimmy Clausen(notes) made a lot of noise during the 2005 and 2006 tournaments at USC's Howard Jones Field and Long Beach City College. The 2010 version of the 7ON will be held at the Nike campus in Beaverton, Ore., and Shutdown Corner is on site for the event.

The tournament kicks off Thursday with the championship round on Friday, and we'll be covering it, focusing equally on the exploits of NFL players Chris Johnson, Calvin Johnson(notes), Troy Polamalu(notes), Steve Breaston(notes), and DeSean Jackson (yes, that same 2004 MVP). Those five players, already in Portland for a Nike photo shoot (we'll be there as well), will help the high school players with individual coaching and athletic performance.

This year's participating teams include Miami Northwestern Senior High School (Miami), HB Plant High School (Tampa, Fla.), David. W. Butler High School (Mathews, N.C.), Martin High School (Arlington, Texas), Glenville High School (Cleveland), Gardena High School (Gardena, Calif.), Guyer High School (Denton, Texas) and Dr. Phillips High School (Orlando). We'll have more specific information about the top recruits from each team throughout the week.

Tournament-style 7-on-7 football is basically flag football taken to an entirely different competitive level — you'll see players in helmets and cleats as well as shirts and shorts. There are no offensive or defensive linemen because there are no running plays (for fans of the Indianapolis Colts and Arizona Cardinals, it's a lot like what you're used to). Every play is a forward pass, and "tackles" are marked by a one- or two-handed touch by the defense. Generally speaking, rules state that teams start at the 40-yard line on a short field and must gain 15 yards for a first down. We'll let you know about all the specific wrinkles as the games go on. Stay tuned!

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