After exploding onto the recruiting scene over the summer, then proving his value on the field in the fall, Midwest City defensive back Will Sunderland has already seen the inside view of the recruiting world.
“I'll be watching TV and the phone rings, and I don't know the number,” Sunderland said. “So I pick it up and it'll be a coach wanting to talk to me. And as soon as I hang up, some other coach calls. It's just crazy.”
At 6-foot-3, 194 pounds, Sunderland had 98 tackles and five interceptions in his junior season to earn a spot on The Oklahoman's All-State team. His athletic gifts helped him earn a lot of attention from colleges across the country.
Oklahoma and Oklahoma State offered early, and others have come in since. And still more, like Alabama, Notre Dame, Missouri, Florida State, Nebraska, Texas A&M, Kansas State and others, are showing interest.
The overload of phone calls hasn't been the strangest thing Sunderland has experienced on the recruiting scene so far. A woman he had never met approached him at his high school offering him sweatshirts of one of the teams that was recruiting him.
“I was like, ‘No, I can't take those,'” Sunderland said with a laugh. “Some lady I didn't even know and she's just coming up to me. That's the strangest thing that's happened to me so far.”
On the field, Sunderland is a playmaker.
“He's a great player who can change a game,” coach Darrell Hall said.
Sunderland always seemed to pop up in clutch situations, too. He was in on a crucial goal-line stand against Edmond Santa Fe in the tone-setting 3-0 win to open the season. He had a goal-line interception against Del City to help seal that rivalry win. And he had two picks against Yukon in a win that, at the time, virtually guaranteed the Bombers a return to the playoffs after missing out the year before.
Sunderland fully bought into the Bombers' defensive philosophy of taking the ball away and giving it back to the offense — a theme that turned last year's three-win team into a 9-3 team this season.
“Turnovers win games,” Sunderland said. “We wanna get the ball back any way we can — fumbles, interceptions, punts.
“At Midwest City, that's how we're taught. And we had a good run.”