Over the past few years, high school combines have begun to spring up all over the nation in an attempt to better assess the potential success of prep athletes on the next level. Several of Coach Bob Toledo's incoming freshman class attended combines in the spring of their junior years. Here is a look at how they stack up against their peers. Percentile ranks for the 40-yard dash, short shuttle, and vertical jump for high school football players are from the 'Complete Conditioning for Football' by Mike Arthur and Bryan Bailey and are broken down by position.
Defensive end Brooks Cunningham from Norcross, Georgia, had the most impressive combine performance from top to bottom of any of the incoming class. In the Scout.com Combine at Atlanta he weighed in at 6-2, 221 pounds. His time in the 40 ranks in the 90th percentile of high school defensive linemen. His 4.71 short shuttle was in the 100th percentile, while his 29.0" vertical jump was in the 90th percentile. His 8.06 in the 3-cone drill is above average, as was his 8'3" standing broad jump.
It should be noted that these results are from the spring of his junior year and with training and maturity, Cunningham should only get more explosive. While the Green Wave returns Antonio Harris, Sean Carney, Troy Wilson, and Logan Kelley at defensive end, it would not be too far fetched to see Cunningham see playing time as a true freshman, especially on special teams.
As a junior, cornerback Phillip Davis from Snellville, Georgia, measured 5-10 ½, 150 pounds. Oddly, he is listed at 5-9 in his signing day bio. Usually combine measurements are fairly accurate, especially height and weight. It is not unusual for a players height to be exaggerated even on college rosters, as the NFL Combine annually reveals. In the 40, Davis posted a blistering 4.49 seconds ranking him in the 100th percentile. He also ran a 7.34 in the 3-cone drill which is very good for a prep athlete. Expect Davis and fellow-freshman Dominique Dade to be battling for a spot on the 2-deep depth chart this fall.
Incoming freshman quarterback, Joe Kemp from North Richland Hills, Texas, ran a 5.13 in the 40, while that may not sound impressive to most, it was good enough to put him in the 70th percentile of high school signal callers. His 4.50 short shuttle was good, ranking him in the 65th percentile. Kemp's 29.0" vertical jump was in the 80th percentile. While he displayed above average athletic ability on each test, his decision making and arm strength are the most important attributes for his position.
Offensive lineman Andrew Higgins of Duluth, Georgia, weighed in at 6-2 ½, 272 pounds as a junior. His 40-yard dash time was a pedestrian 5.67, ranking in the 50th percentile. His 5.20 short shuttle was poor ranking in the 15th percentile. While Higgins combine performance was not very impressive overall, he did have a 23.5" vertical jump which was good enough to place him in the 70th percentile.
Probably the most up-and-down combine performance was that of linebacker, Lamont Simmons of O. Perry Walker in the spring of 2005. At that time Simmons' short shuttle time of 4.87 was poor ranking in the 25th percentile, while his 28.0" vertical jump was in the 80th percentile for prep linebackers. His 3-cone drill time of 8.90 was not very good, however his 9'2" standing broad jump was very good.
While combine performances may answer questions, such as "Is he fast enough?" or "Is he agile enough?" There is no substitute for performance on the field. We'll all get to see first-hand this fall how good this recruiting class really is.