Ondre Pipkins remembers his first high school football combine experience — May 8, 2010, at roughly 8 a.m. — when the National Underclassmen Combine took over the field at North Kansas City High School.
Pipkins, then a sophomore at Park Hill, had transferred into the district from out of town and had yet to play football for coach Greg Reynolds. On the advice of his coach, Pipkins attended the combine just to compare his skills with those of other Kansas City-area boys.
“My first combine, I was nervous,” Pipkins said. “I went in there (thinking), ‘Wow, I don’t know what to expect. Are these guys going to be bigger than me?’ ”
Those fears would vanish as the 6-foot-4, 320-pound Pipkins showed his strength, speed and skills. From that Saturday experience, Pipkins became a legitimate Division I recruit.
Pipkins’ story helps illuminate college football recruiting in the 21st century — where big-time programs bet big on size and speed before even taking a peek at game tape.
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