For Gregory it has not been injury that has cast shadows of doubt on him as a high-level recruit. Gregory, who has already received an offer by Ball State to play cornerback and will be attending the University of Cincinnati camp later in June, is attempting to overcome questionable size to earn a spot from a top team such as Michigan State, Vanderbilt, Purdue, Wisconsin, Ohio State, Michigan and Indiana, all of which he would love to play for. In today's football world, where head coaches are falling in love with taller receivers, teams have moved towards bigger corners as well.
Coaches want strong, physical corners who can play the bump-and-run style. Listed at 5-8.5 and 170 pounds, the Ft. Wayne native used a 4.57 time in the first group to run the 40-yard dash (on a slow turf) to help make a case for himself. In terms of speed, Jakeem was able to show himself capable of being a lock-down corner, which in the college game is still a possibility to find. Already having established a 4.42 time in the 40 at an earlier session, the Akron combine enabled Gregory to match his stuff in one-on-one drills against some of the biggest and fastest receivers in the country. Gregory displayed good cover skills, quality footwork and the ability to cover. Also, good vertical numbers suggest the ability to cover taller receivers at the college level, though he needs to gain muscle in order to keep from getting knocked over when going for jump balls.
Even with all the positives that the combine showcased, including some individual match-ups in position drills, the best way to described the event is that it could either "get you in the door or knock you out," the heavy emphasis on athletic ability over football prowess has always been something that bugged some football fans. But from 9:00 a.m. until 2:15, athletes were tested on their "football abilities."
However, only an hour and a few minutes of that time were dedicated to actually football drills/skills, with the rest going through athletic testing. While some may question how a 40-time or a standing vertical leap prove that a player has the guts to catch a pass going over the middle or knows the appropriate read to make against a 3-4 defense. The simple answer is it does not.
However, after talking with several of the athletes who earned the honor of being showcased, and to the few college coaches who were in attendance, this event is far more about the small-town kid that has yet to make his mark on the recruiting trail. While the physical abilities of Smith and Gregory were already known, these combines provided a way to cast away any doubts about their ability. It's players such as Anthony Constantine (Hempfield Area; PA) and Cody Ramsey (John Glenn; OH) that really make these combines a must for future recruiting classes.
While all the aforementioned athletes will all receive offers to big-time programs, simply looking to see where they stand against the nation's elite (Cumberland and Dickerson) or up their stock (Smith and Gregory), for Constantine and Ramsey it is more of a struggle to get noticed in first place.
Both players come from relatively small schools, chiming-in fairly undersized, and maybe being passed over for various other reasons, athletes such as these are able to get noticed at events like this.
Constantine, who has received offers from smaller schools in Pennsylvania, admits that it was a poor testing time at earlier combines that slowed his recruitment to more prestigious programs. Akron Scout.com combine offered the possibility to right an earlier wrong that he had bestowed upon himself.
Ramsey, who is basically attempting to get himself recruited through tapes and questionnaires, is sending all of his information to any school that will listen. Both believed that establishing a solid number in the skill drills will not only give them fodder for making their argument with schools, but will also serve as motivation to prove themselves on the football field in their upcoming senior campaigns.
From what I saw of both athletes, the overall athletic ability is definitely there to match most of the kids at the combine, though I am not sure the way they performed during the drills will accurately translate to the football field. However, each did perform fairly well in the one-on-one portion of the event to solidify what may prove to be their best chance of increasing their stock.
When all was said and done, the Akron combine put-on by Scout.com provided numerous stories and memories to go along with the countless recruits whom it may have opened the door to college-football glory a little bit further. BearcatInsider.com and all those affiliated with Scout.com looks forward to bringing you the most up-to-date news on the top recruits thinking about or headed to your favorite university. Be on the lookout.
We will have more from the Scout.com Akron combine with stories and interviews from this big event.