It was also impossible not to notice kids that weren't previously on your list or that you had not given full attention and be amazed by how good they looked and how well they tested. The quality was every bit as amazing as the quantity.
I know that Rivals had an event in Dallas the same weekend but that did not keep the best of the best from flooding into Cravens Field at Arlington Lamar High School and putting on a six-hour show of force.
I love football and there is no substitute for real football. But with the testing, individual drills, and group drills that the Nike coaching staff puts these players through it is still a treat to watch. If they wanted to make any more money then they should charge admission for anybody other than parents and credentialed media. It was a show!
It's also a recruiting tool more than ever before. I know that college coaches cannot attend the event, but schools were noticed. For the first time I picked up on more college colors there in the form of fans dressed head to toe, literally in their team's swag.
There was the man in the Arkansas sweat suit, there were plenty of college polos, Braxton Webb's dad was there in SMU garb and, lo and behold, yesterday Webb commits to the Mustangs. The schools get their logos and colors in through fans.
Now, I thought something that would be fun to do would be to make out a dream list, kind of a recruiting dream class.
Oklahoma State already has three commitments in the 2016 class. We keep all those and why not, one showed up well at the camp in Madre Harper. Another Cowboys commitment, running back Justice Hill, rocked the Nike combine the day before at AT&T Stadium.
Our criteria was only what we saw at the camp on Sunday. No factoring in high school tape or statistics, this is just about the performance on Sunday and that is the same way Nike figures the MVP's. The invitations to The Opening for this summer do include tape and previous performance factored in.
We looked at our numbers and how many prospects we expect the Cowboys to take at various positions and that is what we went with.
Here's my dream list from last Sunday at Nike's The Opening Dallas Regional.
Previous Commitments (3)
Malik Kearse, CB, 6-3, 175, Fort Scott C.C., Kan./Opa Locka (Monsignor Pace), Fla.
Madre Harper, CB, 6-3, 175, Arlington (Lamar), Texas
Justice Hill, RB, 5-9.5, 180, Tulsa (Booker T. Washington), Okla.
Harper was in Dallas and performed really well. His size allowed him to make some plays and he was really good at the one and done contact drill with the receivers. He is plenty physical and has great anticipation for the ball.
Hill was not invited to the Dallas Regional, which was Nike's loss, as he ran a 4.51 in the combine the day before and really wowed some people. That's okay as less schools are likely to try and forge their way in on him.
Kearse is a junior college player and was not allowed to attend such events.
Defensive Backs (4)
Eric Cuffee, CB, 6-0, 190, Waco, Texas
Eric Monroe, CB, 6-0, 180, Galena Park (North Shore), Texas
Brandon Jones, DB, 5-10, 185, Nacogdoches, Texas
Chris Brown, CB, 5-10, 190, Alief (Elsik), Texas
Okay, we went over here as we already have two corners in Harper and Kearse, but I couldn't help it. I will always take as many of these type of players as possible because they will fill up the spots on your special teams.
Jones was really good but got hurt in drills about midway through as he suffered a hamstring injury. He still performed well enough that I would take him. Eric Cuffee was one of the best of the day as he was all over the place and picked off a pass during the pressure cooker for the Elite 11 quarterbacks at the end of the day.
Monroe was also one of the best of the day while also performing in the pressure cooker. Jones was injured early in the day but I would still take him on looks alone.
Clifton Lewis, LB, 6-1, 210, Fort Bend (Hightower), Texas
Dontavious Jackson, LB, 6-2, 240, Alief (Elsik), Texas
These guys made it easy as both were in the pressure cooker playing defense at the end of the day. This is a good duo of mister inside and mister outside with Lewis playing outside. He is so athletic and you can see where his brother and former Cowboys "star" linebacker Shaun Lewis has passed down some of his traits. Lewis was quick and showed he could cover deep as well. Jackson is a hoss and he ran well for being 240 pounds. You have to have a player like that.
Defensive Line (2 or 3)
Kendell Jones, DT, 6-4.5, 350, Killeen (Shoemaker), Texas
Rashard Lawrence, DT, 6-2, 305, Neville, La.
Alton Robinson, DE, 6-3, 220, Converse (Judson), Texas
I'd almost like to take three defensive tackles because I really liked Darius Anderson as well, but we had to take Kendell Jones as he was the star of the camp and his offer list is likely to balloon to 50 or more schools. He is big, he's quick and agile, and he has a great unassuming attitude that might not last long. In the one-on-one drills against the best offensive linemen Jones could not be contained.
I also really liked Rashard Lawrence as he seems to be open to leaving the state of Louisiana and that is a hard thing to convince a top-flight player like Lawrence. He too was dominant in the one-on-one. Alton Robinson was as good a defensive end as their was at the event and he is very mature.
Offensive Line (3)
Chris Owens, OT, 6-5, 280, Arlington (Lamar), Texas
Tope Imade, OT, 6-5, 314, Arlington (Bowie), Texas
Luther Harris, OG, 6-3.5, 315, Oklahoma City (Heritage Hall), Okla.
I watched the offensive linemen for a good while and also watched them test along with the defensive linemen and some of the defensive backs. Owens really performed well and was so quick and agile along with being powerful. It seems he weighs more than 280 right now.
Imade was also really good and stood out in the one-on-one drills. Finally, Harris turned a lot of heads and when I was asked about him then I spilled what I knew and then went down to learn some more with everybody else. What I saw was a kid that has re-shaped his body and was determined against some very good defensive line talent to show up and he did. He is an OU fan and admits that is his preference, but he will listed to schools that are interested in him. I think he is worth striking first and trying to change his mind on orange over crimson. He's tough and proved that in Arlington.
Tight Ends (1)
J.C. Chalk, TE, 6-4, 221, Argyle, Texas
I know that he is already committed to Clemson, but I would keep pushing on this young man to see if he would like to stay closer to home. He is more of a big wide receiver than he is a tight end, but you need some of both.
I just liked what I saw of him running routes and he catches the ball, a really important quality. He was the target a couple of times successfully in the pressure cooker with Nick Starkel. I know that Kaden Smith of Flower Mound Marcus was the MVP of the tight ends and receivers, but I really liked Chalk.
Wide Receivers (2)
Tren'Davian Dickson, WR, 5-11, 170, Navasota, Texas
Reggie Hemphill, WR, 6-1, 180, Manvel, Texas
Much like the defensive backs you could pick about a dozen or more of these guys and they would all be fantastic and make you plenty happy on signing day. Devin Duvernay of Sachse only ran a 4.38 in the forty and speed like that doesn't grow on trees.
I saw a lot of Dickson and his speed and ability to shake defenders made him a major target at the end of the day in the pressure cooker. Hemphill was also heavily involved at the end of the day and his size and athletic ability getting up is very attractive. I also liked Kofi Boateng of host Arlington Lamar.
Running Backs (1)
There were plenty of good ones in Dallas but I think the Cowboys got the best with Justice Hill, and Hill proved he should have been there on Sunday when he scorched the Nike Combine on Saturday.
Nick Starkel, QB, 6-4, 185, Argyle (Liberty Christian), Texas
Dillon Sterling-Cole, QB, 6-3, 180, Houston (Westfield), Texas
I'm sure it didn't show when I did my first story from the event on Starkel, but I really like what I see out of this young man. He is a little thin but aren't most high school quarterbacks. He throws a great ball with plenty of zip and he is accurate, but I also saw him tuck the ball and run when receivers were covered. That is a lesson it takes so many quarterbacks a long time to learn.
He was 4-of-5 on throws in the pressure cooker and if Sterling-Cole hadn't lit up some long dimes then Starkel might have had The Opening invitation. Sterling-Cole deserved it and there is no way you don't like what he did, and he is very athletic and very confident. I do think Starkel eventually gets an invite to The Opening as well.