When Chicago De La Salle's Mikale Wilbon arrived at the Rivals Underclassmen Challenge in Dallas this past July, the 5-foot-9, 190-pound back turned heads with his Ray Rice-like build, low center of gravity and nifty footwork.
Just two games into his junior season, Wilbon is already taking the assets he displayed over the summer and turning them into on-field production.
The class of 2014 prospect opened his junior campaign two weekends ago by running for 327 yards and four touchdowns on just 16 carries, an average of better than 20 yards per carry. He followed that up in week two with 170 yards and four more touchdowns on just nine carries in only one half of work.
Wilbon certainly is a physically-gifted running back, but the Chicago native has not relied on his talent alone to generate these big early season performances.
"I study every team," Wilbon said. "I study the d-line, linebackers, DB's - how fast they are, what [alignments] they run - so I can break down the defenses and do what I do."
Purdue broke down what Wilbon could do earlier this summer and decided he was worthy of an early offer. The Boilermakers remain the only school to have offered Wilbon at this stage.
"It will be a huge consideration because they were the first to give me a chance, give me an opportunity," Wilbon said. "I will always have them in the race. One of those hats on Signing Day will be Purdue's."
Camps at Ohio State and Michigan State this summer also earned Wilbon recognition, and other schools have started to pick up the recruiting attention.
"Ohio State, Illinois, Michigan and Michigan State - those four have been emailing me a lot," Wilbon said. "I was thinking about going to a Michigan State game, Ohio State game, Illinois game or Purdue game. Those are all big schools, and I feel I can play at the highest level possible."
This week, Wilbon's focus is on his team's Friday night opponent - Mt. Carmel, which features fellow class of 2014 standout Enoch Smith Jr.. As the season progresses, Wilbon is looking for teams in other parts of the country to hear word of his performances.
"There's no school in particular, but I want to hear from some SEC schools and some Pac-12 schools," he said. "I think I have the body for those kind of [conferences]."