- Damon Sayles, RecruitingNation
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IRVING, Texas -- By the time July rolls around, Jake Oliver (Dallas/Jesuit), Maurice Smith (Sugar Land, Texas/Dulles) and Mike Mitchell (Plano, Texas/Prestonwood) may collectively hold the nickname the "Texas three-step" or "The Lone Star trifecta" or whatever colloquialism deemed necessary.
The three 2013 football prospects participated in the Nike Football Training Camp on Sunday, and in addition to the exposure, the trio left the Dallas Cowboys practice facility with an invitation to The Opening, a training and competition event featuring the nation's top 150 players to run July 5-8 at the Nike headquarters in Beaverton, Ore.
All three players shined at their respective positions on Sunday. Oliver, a 6-foot-4, 195-pound wide receiver and Texas commit, showed why he had several suitors from a recruiting perspective. He made nice catches and was very consistent in drills.
"It's great to go up against the best of the best," Oliver said. "That's how you get the work in. That's how you get better. Knowing someone is just as good as you, you've got to work as hard as you can.
"I feel very blessed because only a select few get invited to The Opening, and I was very glad I was one of them."
Oliver and Smith both were a part of a highly competitive one-on-one training session pitting the defensive backs against the receivers. While Oliver held his own as a receiver, Smith (6-foot, 180 pounds) consistently made big-time plays as a cornerback -- the kind of plays that has made him such a heavily recruited athlete. Arkansas, Notre Dame, Oklahoma State and LSU are among the multiple schools that have offered.
"There were about 70 or so [defensive backs] and a lot of receivers, so it was hard to get reps," Smith said, "but I got to talk to some of the kids throughout the state that I've been compared to. It was a great experience.
"Being picked for [The Opening], it's a blessing. I came out here not expecting to get [an invite], but I prayed and hoped for one. I came out and did my work. I'm very blessed."
Mitchell may have had the most complete Sunday afternoon of the three. In addition to receiving an Opening invitation, he also was named the camp's MVP for linebackers. At 6-foot-3 and 215 pounds, Mitchell dazzled the NFTC staff with his strength, quickness and overall endurance.
"It was definitely really good to be out here, and it feels awesome right now," Mitchell said of The Opening invitation. "I watched some of these linebackers come from everywhere. Kids from hours and hours away were coming out here to play. There was a lot of talent and athleticism here."
Star WR Samples injured in drills
The excitement of the NFTC had the wind taken out of its sails momentarily when ESPNU 150 Watch List wide receiver Ra'Shaad Samples (Dallas/Skyline) went down with a lower left leg injury.
Samples, one of the nation's most highly touted receivers, sustained the injury at the end of a play against a camp defender. The severity of the injury is still unknown, but Samples was carted off and greeted by the cheers of receivers, defensive backs and onlookers.
"It looks like it's a severe ankle injury," said Reginald Samples, Ra'Shaad's father and the coach of the Skyline football team. "We'll know more on Monday or Tuesday. Everything is shut down for now, so we didn't get a chance for a full evaluation.
"He's got a plastic cast on for now. He's wearing a little wrap and some cloth on it. We will go in Monday and see what the doctors say."
Prior to the injury, Samples was having the kind of camp worthy enough to be considered the MVP of the receivers. He is currently balancing 33 offers from schools such as Texas, Oklahoma, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Cal, USC and Washington.
Prevot named MVP of D-linemen
Torrodney Prevot (Houston/Alief Taylor) rarely is seen without a smile on his face. That smile happened to be even brighter after he was announced the MVP of the defensive linemen.
Considered one of the top defensive ends in the nation, Prevot won the honor over several top players, including defensive tackle Vincent Taylor (San Antonio/Madison) as well as a pair of Texas commits in defensive tackle A'Shawn Robinson (Fort Worth, Texas/Arlington Heights) and defensive end Daeshon Hall (Lancaster, Texas).
"This is my first D-lineman medal ever. I feel good," said Prevot, a 6-foot-4, 225-pound junior. "It was very nice. I got to see all the competition that I'll be going against in a few years. I took a lot of technique out of here. They talked about recruiting and how you have to keep going hard at everything you do."
Prevot has a handful of offers, including ones from LSU, Oklahoma State, Texas, Oklahoma, Baylor, Arizona State and Notre Dame, among others.
Spencer wins SPARQ MVP honors
When Colin Spencer (Dallas/Woodrow Wilson) posted a 141.12 SPARQ rating at the Nike Football SPARQ Combine in Houston on March 3, he was hoping to pick up a few offers.
He wasn't expecting to get another award for it three weeks later.
Spencer, a 5-foot-10, 175-pound receiver/cornerback, was named the SPARQ MVP following Sunday's camp. The SPARQ combine tests an athlete's strength, power, agility, reaction and quickness, as athletes compete in the 40-yard dash, the 20-yard shuttle, the vertical leap and the power ball toss.
Spencer ran a 4.42-second 40-yard dash and a 3.87-second 20-yard shuttle, and he jumped 41.7 inches during his run in Houston.
At Sunday's NFTC, he competed with receivers and showed off his skills.
"Ever since the Houston combine, I've really been getting noticed," Spencer told ESPN Dallas. "Now is really my first introduction into recruiting, so I'm just getting into it."
Spencer has yet to pull an offer but has interest from Arkansas, Baylor, Michigan State, Kansas and Georgia Tech.
• Texas commit Tyrone Swoopes (Whitewright, Texas) was named the MVP of the quarterbacks. Swoopes was a regional finalist at the Elite 11 camp at Cowboys Stadium on Saturday. While he didn't receive a golden ticket to the Elite 11 national camp on Saturday, he got the invitation on Sunday, along with J.T. Barrett (Wichita Falls, Texas/Rider). Both players will travel to Redondo Beach, Calif., for national competition in July.
• Cornerback Anthony Canady (Mesquite, Texas), a virtual unknown in the recruiting ranks, ramped up his recruiting stock with an impressive showing at the camp. He was named MVP of the defensive backs among a talented group of athletes that included Kameron Miles (Mesquite, Texas/West Mesquite), Texas Tech commit Will Barrow (Dallas/Skyline) and Maurice Smith, who was invited to The Opening.
• The wide receiver position was loaded with talent, but another under-the-radar player took home MVP honors. Brian O'Bannon (Mesquite, Texas/Horn) was named the top receiver after competing with talented receivers such as Texas A&M-bound LaQuvionte Gonzalez (Cedar Hill, Texas) and Quincy Adeboyejo (Cedar Hill, Texas), Texas-bound Jacorey Warrick (Houston/Cy Falls) and Oliver.
• Versatile offensive lineman Brad North (Allen, Texas) has had an impressive February and March, and on Sunday he was rewarded with the MVP medal for being the camp's top offensive lineman. North won the award over highly recruited linemen such as Texas commit Jake Raulerson (Celina, Texas) and Maurice Porter (Missouri City, Texas/Marshall).
NFTC tour starts in Texas