The majority of the prospects we were focused on at Nike's The Opening Regional at Coppell High School on Sunday did really well, and we had the opportunity to speak with 11 different prospects including two athletes committed to Oklahoma State.
Safety Ty Thomas of Lubbock (Cooper), Texas and linebacker Brendan Vaughn from Forney, Texas were both impressive interviews, but even more impressive on the field as both players were selected at their positions to be involved in the showcase or pressure cooker competition at the end of the day.
Vaughn is a 6-1, 213-pound athlete who was easily one of the top five of a very talented linebacker group that sent three players on to The Opening. Vaughn may still get an invite. He was excellent in the skills and very good in coverage leading me to think he might be destined for the "star" position at Oklahoma State. He thought the same thing. He had 101 tackles and seven sacks last season.
"I spoke with my parents and we just thought it was the best option for me to commit to Oklahoma State," Vaughn said. "I take my academics very seriously and I have to thank my parents for that. I'm looking forward to playing at Oklahoma State."
Thomas said one of the reasons he is heading to Stillwater is that he likes to cut his own path, and he admitted that he has caught some grief in Lubbock since pledging to the Cowboys being that his dad and his uncle both played at Texas Tech. His uncle is former Red Raiders College Hall of Fame and Miami Dolphins of the NFL linebacker Zach Thomas.
"I told my dad and uncle that I was going to go my own way," Thomas said. "I love the staff and the facilities at Oklahoma State. I love to play physical football and that is why I play. I'm working on my coverage now."
The work showed as he did well all day and broke up several plays in the pass skeleton work late in the day as well as the one-on-one drills.
It was a big day for receivers and the five that we spoke with and spent time watching all did well. That list included showcase and pressure cooker finalists KD Nixon of DeSoto, Texas; Omar Manning, a big 6-3, 196-pound receiver out of Lancaster, Texas; Lewisville, Texas speedster Tyrell Shavers; and another DeSoto athlete that has seen his star rise lately in Lavishka Shenault.
Shenault was very impressive and may have caught more passes than any of the receivers on Sunday. Add tight end Reese Leitao of Jenks, Okla., and he too made the final competition of the day. He had media turning their heads and he has added offers from Northwestern, Duke, Minnesota and others to his list, although Oklahoma State was the first to get in.
"I really like Oklahoma State," Leitao said. "I like coach (Jason) McEndoo and I have really connected with him."
Another Oklahoman that was there catching passes but does not have an offer from the Cowboys yet is Oklahoma City Bishop McGuinness wide receiver Rubell Goe. The 6-2, 190-pound Goe is well put together and had 60 receptions for 1,390 yards and 19 touchdowns. He has interest from OSU, Tulsa, and Memphis but no offers yet.
Several other players worth mentioning that you will hear from in the coming days are offensive linemen Hyrin Morrison-White from DeSoto. The 6-7, 292-pound offensive tackle prospect told both Scout's Greg Powers and myself that Oklahoma State is his favorite offer as of now and that he has connected with Oklahoma State offensive line coach Greg Adkins.
We also saw and spoke to Caden Sterns of Cibolo-Steele. Yes, he is the younger but taller brother of Cowboys starting free safety Jordan Sterns. Caden is going to be a junior next season but already has several offers including Oklahoma State.
"They were my second offer. Texas Tech was first," Sterns said. "I like Oklahoma State and my brother has been a role model for me. I think that he plays at Oklahoma State helps them but I am going to go to the school that best fits me."
Another player we spoke with and watched was Wylie East running back Eno Benjamin (pictured above). Benjamin has had his recruiting blow up but he told us that he likes OSU running backs coach Marcus Arroyo and likes the way OSU has said they would use him if he came to Stillwater. Last season Benjamin carried 366 time for 2,652 yards and 41 touchdowns. His career rushing numbers are 4,942 yards and 74 touchdowns. The 5-10, 187-pound Benjamin is a dynamo.
Finally, quarterbacks and I spoke to two, but watched several. Southmoore junior-to-be Casey Thompson had a very good day and told me afterwards that he can't wait to come back and compete next year and get that invite to The Opening. He also told me that he has told his dad (former OU quarterback Charles Thompson) and brother that went to OU and Utah that he likes Oklahoma State a lot more than he thought he would and he said he has conveyed that to Mike Gundy and Mike Yurcich.
The quarterback that may have been on the cusp of getting an invite to The Opening was Cam Roane of Colleyville Heritage. He is an impressive player and leader and stuck out impressively all day with the Nike coaches and the media. Roane said he thought he had a chance but will keep working.
He also said that his recruiting is picking up but that Oklahoma State is one of his favorite schools. He has been to three games and on campus some other times. He likes the school and the town of Stillwater and likes to get around offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich when he can. He sounds very interested as you will hear in his interview and for Oklahoma State that is a good thing.
It was a great day, a little sunburn, and the knees, especially the bad one, are sore, but it was all worthwhile.