Just over 15 years ago after seeing camps and combines spring up all around the nation, B.J. Maack had an idea to highlight the top high school players in Arkansas in one central place.
That idea has proven to be a ultra-successful one as Maack and his staff will put on the 15th annual FCA Combine for 128 athletes this Saturday morning at North Little Rock High School.
While prospects such as North Little Rock tailback and Alabama commit Altee Tenpenny and Bearden linebacker B.J. Ross highlight the prospects, it's the lesser-known ones that drive this particular event.
"Yes, we have had guys come through here like (future NFL players) Matt Jones, Darren McFadden, Cedric Houston and DeAngelo Williams, but the best thing for us has been those diamonds-in-the rough that nobody knew about and have gone on to college scholarships in our state and other places," Maack said. "That has really given us a lot of pride and makes it all worthwhile."
The FCA event has gone a long way from handheld times in the early days to laser times and other data that can be up uploaded instantly.
It includes the 40-yard dash, a 10-yard dash, the vertical jump, broad jump, bench press, pro-agility and the L-drill.
Coaches from Arkansas and all over the country have been able to get the information and it has proved beneficial for them and the players.
"The one thing that we have added here as we have gone along here is the technology that really reduces any questioning by the coaches," Maack said. "They always want to know "is that a legit 40 time? Is that the real vertical?'
"We take away all those questions with not only the technology that we have, but we have the same people every year working so it's not a matter of somebody not knowing what they are doing," Maack said. "Also we are going to have Ipads out there this year so we'll have the info up almost immediately."
It especially helps smaller schools.
"The information that we put out is like a treasure-trove for schools without a big recruiting budget," Maack said. "They can really get a handle and narrow down even further who they want to follow."
Tenpenny, who committed to the Crimson Tide but continues to give the Razorbacks a long look, did not play at all last season for North Little Rock because of an injury.
While he doesn't need to prove anything to others since he already has some elite offers, Tenpenny no doubt wants to show coaches and scouts he is fit.
"He has been working with me (at Arkansas Sports Performance Center) to rehab that ankle and I think he just wants to show everybody he is back and ready to go," Maack said. "Especially since this is happening on his own turf."
There have been some years that the NCAA has allowed coaches to attend the FCA event and ones like it, but that is not the case this season.
"I still don't get what the difference is in the football events like ours and say the Real Deal in the Rock AAU basketball tournament where coaches can attend," Maack said. "But I guess that just makes what we do so much more valuable. It's fun for us and it's worth it."
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