Ndoma-Ogar exploded into his opponent’s chest at The Opening Finals in Frisco, Texas, so forcefully that the defensive tackle was blown three yards off the ball. The pop and punch drew “ooohs” from the crowd of four-star and five-star recruits as well as coaches and media.
The defensive tackle was spooked. He turned around and ran away from Ndoma-Ogar, giving the 2019 offensive guard no choice but to chase him.
“Cause I was like, ‘Oh, he’s running!’,” Ndoma-Ogar told me. “I was like ‘I’ve gotta get him before he gets to the cone.’ I was like either I stay there, or I go after him. So I just went after him.”
Ndoma-Ogar didn’t win that battle by chance. He’d watched his opponent.
He’d studied his hands, and he knew exactly when to time his punch. As soon as his opponent flew back, it was clear that Ndoma-Ogar could’ve pancaked him—put him on his back.
“But if I’d have pancaked him his neck would’ve been broken,” Ndoma-Ogar said.
At The Opening Finals, he was tested.
He walked in as the offensive line MVP for the Opening Dallas regional and saw what it meant to go against the best high school juniors and seniors in the country.
“Just getting to compete with some of the kids that are right there with you,” Ndoma-Ogar said, “and just getting to compete with some of the kids that are right there with you. It’s great to experience that.”
He also got another opportunity to play against an old friend.
“Actually, interesting fact,” he said. “You know Marcus Stripling?”
I do. Stripling is a four-star recruit out of Houston, Texas, with offers from Alabama, Oklahoma and Texas A&M among others. “We were teammates in fifth and fourth grade,” he said. “So that rivalry has been going on for a long, long time.”
While Ndoma-Ogar and Stripling are friends, the Allen Eagles guard has become close with 2019 offensive tackle Stacey Wilkins. At The Opening Finals, I saw the two together frequently and enjoying each other’s company.
I also watched Wilkins hold up against the best defensive end in the country in Kayvon Thibodeaux. Wilkins lost his lid, but did not lose the 1-on-1 battle.
“Stacey’s my guy,” Ndoma-Ogar said. “Me and Stacey are close. That’s been my dude for a while. I talk to him most of the time, and y’all saw the eyes, right? So just know that.”
LISTEN RJ’S FULL INTERVIEW WITH EJ NDOMA-OGAR BELOW: