For guys like Van Buren junior football stars Taylor Stockemer and Alan Davis, Sunday afternoon was time well spent at the All-Star Sports Arena in Springdale.
Those two players – expected to be two of better prospects in Arkansas' 2008 class – were a pair of about 45 state prospects on hand for the SPARQ South Regional Combine, an event that weather kept many of the over 100 confirmed participants from showing up.
National Scouting Report's Brad Corbitt ran the event, one the Arkansas state director of NSR hopes helps the kids in their effort to get the attention of college coaches and was attended by kids from schools from nearly every football program in Northwest Arkansas.
"One of the reasons that we wanted to do this here was that I have been to a lot of combines where kids don't know how to run the 40 yard dash, they don't know how to run the shuttle, kids pump out 16 reps on the bench press and then an instructor says he lifted his butt up six times so it keeps his overall rating down," Corbitt said.
"We wanted to go through each of these things and make sure the kids know how to run it, get some practice runs and get their times down," Corbitt said. "In a couple of days we will give them their SPARQ rating, which is an overall score that college coaches use to compare athletes. If you see something around 90, then that kid is a player."
That SPARQ rating includes the athlete's performances in the 40-yard dash, the shuttle, the vertical jump, how many reps you can bench press at 185 along with being measure and weighed.
"All of those come together and there is a formula to use to come up with a SPARQ rating," Corbitt said. "It is the chance for college coaches to look at one number and kind of categorize where that kid is."
Because of a 2-8 season last year at Van Buren under new head coach Chris Hill, both Stockemer and Davis – who will be at the FCA Combine in Bryant next Saturday - likely didn't get the amount of attention they deserved.
Stockemer (6-4, 200, 4.5) caught 43 passes for 838 yards and 8 touchdowns last season as as a wide receiver – all in the last eight games - while also having 43 tackles, 2 interceptions and 4 pass break ups from his cornerback position.
"I really wanted to accomplish the times I think I can get and I knew I could get," Stockemer said. "I really just wanted to come up here and stand out from everybody else."
Stockemer, who has a 36-inch vertical jump and had over 100 yards receiving in five of his games this past season, is already hearing from Arkansas, Texas Tech, Kansas State, North Carolina and Virginia Tech to name a few.
He's going to hit a few of those schools this spring and summer for camps.
"I am going to try and make it to a Texas Tech camp because right now that's probably want to go the most since they throw the football so much," Stockemer said. "I also want to go to the Arkansas camp for sure, to Texas A&M, to Kansas State – where I went on an official visit to watch them play Texas and had the time of my life and just some others around this area."
Stockemer, the son of former Alma standout and Baylor running back Ralph Stockemer, is thinking year two under Hill will be a breakout year for Van Buren.
"I wasn't happy with how things went last season obviously," Stockemer said. "We did progress so much offensively and defensivel, but we still weren't on the page with the other top 7A-West teams last year. They had more kids and great athleticism and we are working hard to get there.
"We do, however, have great, great expectations for next year," Stockemer said. "We plan to be (surprise state champion Fort Smith) Southside of next year. We are set up where we could get five touchdowns and 500 yards of total offense a game and do like Rogers did – stop the other team a couple of times and blow them out on offense."
Davis (6-4, 200, 4.7) passed for over 2,300 yards and 20 touchdowns in his first year starting and completed 71.2 percent of his passes – all three stats giving him school records.
"I am excited for next year," Davis said. "The first year I had a lot of learning to do with a new coach and a new offense. Although we didn't have a winning season, I believe we learn the stuff decently and next year we are going to be able to exploit some defenses and have a great year."
He's a big fan of the spread offense that Hill brought to Van Buren from his last stop at Morrilton.
"I think it is a great opportunity for me," Davis said. "It is a spread offense and we get to pass the ball a lot. As hard as I work, I am planning to have it down and have outstanding stats and lead the Pointers to a winning season."
He also knows that is lucky to have Stockemer along for ride.
"Taylor is a blessing to have," Davis said. "I know a lot of my season is going to depend on him. He is our best receiver, has a great vertical, great speed and great hands. We are best friends and I think both of us are going to have outstanding years."
Recruiting hasn't started gearing up for Davis yet, but he is just the kind of prospect that Sunday's event should help in getting his name out according to Corbitt.
"You always hear that Arkansas puts out 10 to 12 Division I players per year, those are sure-fire Division I players," Corbitt said. "There are plenty of Division IAA players that are going to play in college and some who can make the jump if they just get the right break which is what we are trying to help them with."
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