Texas Targets Excel in SPARQ Results

How did the top Texas targets perform in the SPARQ training portion of The Opening?

A couple quick notes on the tests: the vertical jump isn't performed on a traditional pole where somebody jumps up and swings at measurements. Instead, it's a platform where players jump up, and their hang time is used to estimate their vertical. It's interesting in that some players can "game" the system by pulling their legs up, though there are judges there to try and make sure people don't do that. It's imperfect though … at The Opening in 2011, Connor Brewer out-leapt Cayleb Jones and openly joked about tricking the system afterward.

The times, both 40 and the short shuttle (five yards to one side, 10 back across to the other side and five yards across the middle) are electronic, so no hand times. And the power ball toss is an interesting exercise where the players kneel on a board and fling a weighted ball as far as they can, though the throw has to be made from their chest and not from the side.

Here's how the top Texas targets did:

Texas commitment Jerrod Heard (6-2 196) showcased his athleticism by running a 4.59 40-yard dash, easily the fastest time among quarterbacks in attendance. Will Grier was the second-fastest quarterback at 4.73. Heard ran a 4.49 shuttle, threw the power ball 39.0 feet and jumped 33.1 inches. Fellow Longhorn commitment Lorenzo Joe (6-2.5 193) ran a 4.7-second 40-yard dash, but paired that with a 4.0 short shuttle. Typically, NFL scouts look for players whose shuttle times are around 0.5 seconds faster than their 40 to showcase explosiveness. Joe threw the power ball 33.5 feet and jumped 33 inches.

Tony Brown (6-0 196) finished fourth in the SPARQ rankings in the prelims, and was the only legitimate Texas target who made it to the finals. Brown ran a 4.35 40-yard dash, a 3.83 short shuttle and threw the power ball 38 feet. His vertical was at 35.9 inches. Brown didn't quite perform up to that level in the finals, and finished near the bottom of the group.

Solomon Thomas (6-3 261) again showed that he has some pretty special tools to work with. His 4.95 40-yard dash isn't bad for somebody over 260 pounds, but his 4.25 shuttle is astounding. Thomas's short shuttle was only two one-hundredths of a second slower than that of Jamal Adams — who weighs about 60 pounds less — and was faster than several receivers in attendance. Thomas also had a 36.7-inch vertical and threw the power ball a whopping 44 feet. Thomas is a fantastic prospect because of his ability to beat offensive linemen with both strength and quickness, and his numbers reflected that. His power ball toss was the third best of all players at The Opening, and the best score put up by a defensive lineman, while his 4.25 shuttle was the third-fastest shuttle time for a d-lineman.

One of the more interesting players to watch in the 40 was Adams (6-0 204). Why? Because he never runs it. In fact, Adams was outstanding at the Dallas NFTC, but didn't earn the MVP solely because he didn't run. But when Adams ran, he didn't disappoint, turning in an excellent 4.48 time. Adams ran 4.23 in the short shuttle and vertically jumped 34 inches, while throwing the power ball 40 feet.

While Adams got him in the 40-yard dash, John Bonney (6-0 182) was just a bit better in the other three categories. Bonney ran a 4.62 40-yard dash, but paired that with a 4.1 shuttle, a 41.0-foot power ball throw and a 34.3-inch vertical.

Kd Cannon (6-0 162) ran a 4.58 40 and a 4.15 shuttle. Cannon jumped 34.4 inches and threw the power ball 34.0 feet.

Edwin Freeman (6-0.5) wasn't weighed and didn't participate in the training. Neither did tight end target Tyler Luatua (6-3.0).

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