DESOTO, Texas – It wasn't the best weather conditions for a Nike Football Training Combine, but the weather completely went out the window once the event started at DeSoto High.
The Nike tour made its annual stop to the Dallas area, which brought about a number of top Oklahoma recruiting targets to the same location.
Despite a lot of prospects either missing the event or rescheduling their Nike appearance, Saturday was a banner day for OU prospects.
Sunderland steals show
No doubt one of the biggest names from the event was Midwest City (Okla.) High safety Will Sunderland. To all of you who read SoonersIllustrated.com that name has been beaten into your heads since early last summer.
After Saturday, a lot of other people are joining the bandwagon as well. Sunderland was dominant in every aspect of the game at the camp and said he felt himself getting better with each rep against the best wide receivers in the region.
Sunderland was named the MVP for defensive backs and also received that coveted invite to The Opening, the all-star event in Beaverton, Ore., in July featuring the best of the best in high school football.
The Sooners were the first program to offer and that is starting to feel like the smartest thing OU has done in a while. It's eerily reminiscent of last year with Steven Parker where OU was also the first to offer before seeing his stock blow up.
Sunderland was at OU for its junior day and a spring practice and is going to make one more trip to Norman on Saturday for the spring game.
A lot of schools could join the race following incredibly impressive camp performances at the Rivals camp in March and the NFTC on Saturday.
Mbanasor expects to be in Norman
Sticking with defensive backs, it was a quality day as well from Pflugerville (Texas) Hendrickson cornerback P.J. Mbanasor.
This was the first time Sooners Illustrated had seen Mbanasor in person, and he easily passed the eye ball test, and like Sunderland, earned an invite to The Opening.
A one-time TCU commit, Mbanasor is now taking things a little slower. It's obvious he wants to wait, but it's also obvious no matter what happens that OU is going to be around until the end.
Mbanasor was at OU's junior day and said he expects to be back in Norman for the spring game. He'll have to find a ride, but "I definitely plan on being there."
Running back signee Samaje Perine is a former teammate of Mbanasor.
Lodge, Newsome live up to billing
Newsome might be 5-foot-9, while Lodge is a towering 6-2 or 6-3, but you also won't find two more effective receivers, either.
Lodge was named the MVP at wide receiver and earned an invite to The Opening, while Newsome showed his elusiveness in the one-on-one aspect of the competition.
From my eyes, it's tough to envision there being a better wide receiver than Lodge in the class. Cedar Hill coach Joey McGuire knew it following Lodge's sophomore season, and he certainly has a case in that department.
Lodge hasn't visited OU in a while, which could be a cause for concern. The real cause for concern, though, is how many schools continue to pursue him. The Sooners are falling off right now with Lodge.
The same can't be said for Newsome, who has made two trips to Norman in the last month. In-state schools like Baylor, Texas and Texas Tech are going to be tough to beat, but the Sooners remain in solid standing even if they're not quite the favorite.
Wallace heading to Norman
River Ridge (La.) Curtis Bo Wallace linebacker is ready to take a tour of the region and that tour is going to include a trip to OU for the spring game this weekend.
Wallace had a quality day at NFTC and said he really learned a lot from being in that environment. OU was the first school to offer Wallace, who has picked up one big offer after another during the last month.
The plan is for a trip to OU on Saturday and Texas on Sunday, but it still remains to be seen if everything can come together for Wallace in that department.
Wariboko turns heads
Like Sunderland, if you've read SoonersIllustrated.com for the last year, then the name Josh Wariboko is as common as any other.
The Scout 300 offensive guard from Oklahoma City Casady had a solid day in DeSoto even if he didn't earn MVP honors or an Opening invite. And for people who hadn't seen him before, they learned fast just how massive he really is.
Wariboko recently made a trip to USC, but he made it clear from the beginning it was all about OU. He came out decked in an OU jacket and actually wore it for part of the day until he got warmed up and felt comfortable.
He had some highlight pancake blocks in the one-on-one session and said he had a great time. It wouldn't be a surprise if Wariboko earned an invite to The Opening at a later date. On this day, Euless (Texas) Trinity guard Patrick Vahe, a Texas commit, was definitely on top of his game.