Chicago (Ill.) De La Salle running back Mikale Wilbon wanted to test himself against the country's best for the second time, and made his way to Orlando for Friday's Under Armour Combine. The drive home took him through Nashville and allowed him to visit a SEC program.
Wilbon's parents drove with him down to Orlando. His father's brother lives 45 minutes away from the Vanderbilt campus, and the four-star back was able to stop through and see the Commodores coaching staff when they visited his uncle on the way home.
"Before I went, Coach [James] Franklin and Coach [Ricky] Rahne had come to my school," Wilbon said. "They had been in contact with me since my sophomore year, so I had to shoot them a visit since I was going past that way."
Vanderbilt has not yet extended an offer to Wilbon, but the interest they have shown the Chicago native is being reciprocated after this past weekend's visit.
"Vanderbilt, that is a good school," Wilbon said. "They are improving almost every year since Coach Franklin has been there. The campus overall is good. A lot of the stuff is all together, and I liked that. In their offense, they give the running backs the ball. Their offensive coordinator is the running backs coach, so [running backs] get touches, like [Zac] Stacy did this year."
The 5-foot-9, 190-pound Wilbon does hold scholarship offers from Arizona State, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Mississippi State and Purdue. He plans to attend a junior day at Iowa on Jan. 20 and one at Indiana on Feb. 2.
Wilbon was injured in the fourth game of his junior season, but still managed to rush for 863 yards and 12 touchdowns in a shortened campaign. He is working this off-season to get in the work he missed in the fall, and started that with a strong showing at the Under Armour Combine on Friday.
"I think I did great and the coaches, scouts and reporters said I had an overall good day," Wilbon said. "For a running back, they said I was real crisp with my cuts, my movements and my elusiveness. It was encouraging."
Prior to the Under Armour Combine, Wilbon had partaken in, and excelled at, the Rivals Underclassmen Challenge last July, so he was prepared to compete against some of the nation's top talent.
"When I was at the Rivals camp in Texas there was a lot of down-south talent there and I did good there," Wilbon said. "At the Under Armour combine there was a lot of southern guys there, too. No matter whether it is north, south, east or west, I know I can do good because that's the kind of competitor I am."
Wilbon is hoping his performance does draw more attention from southern schools because that region of the country is an interest to him in the recruiting process.