The first of 12 Fox Sports/Scout.com combines of the spring season was held at the UPMC sports complex on the south side of Pittsburgh on Sunday. Attending the event were more than two hundred players, mostly from western Pennsylvania and Ohio.
Accompanying the youths were parents and coaches, who offered encouragement and possibly did some light scouting of players from high schools they will see in the regular season, but overall the focus was on recording good times and measurables in the various drills.
The day started off with height and weight measurements, forty-yard dashes, vertical and broad jumps, and the "L" drill, which is a standard agility and quickness test conducted around three cones set out in an "L" pattern. Participants moved from station to station at a relaxed pace during the early stages of the combine.
The mood became more intense during position work. After getting warmed up with some rudimentary drills, the receivers and defensive backs competed intensely during route running and coverage. It was common to see players hit the turf diving for passes and making hard cuts. As much effort as they were giving, the linemen were working even harder. Although they weren't wearing any pads, the coaches allowed them to be fairly physical, which made for an enthusiastic effort. By the time they got to their pass rushing/pass protection drills, several guys were sporting ripped t-shirts and rug-burned knees. Despite the high intensity, tempers remained level and the action remained clean.
The most outstanding play of the combine occurred when an errant pass sailed into a crowd of linemen. While the defensive back got lost in the pack, the receiver crashed through the sea of hogs, located the ball, and hauled it in as he fell to the turf. Unfortunately his number was obscured, so his identity remained a mystery to most observers.
The most comical moment happened earlier during the receiver drills. The coach who was throwing the passes pulled a Garo Yepremian, losing his grip of the ball before his release, causing it to fall gently at his feet. Surprisingly, he only received a light heckling from the on-looking players and parents. Hopefully for his sake, he'll never pull a similar move at a combine in Philadelphia.
Luke Graham, an offensive tackle from Penn Trafford High School who is being recruited by WVU assistant coach Dave Johnson, was one of the participants of note. Graham said he preformed "pretty well" at the event, but noted that, "It's the first combine of the year so I was a bit rusty". On the prospects of becoming a Mountaineer, he said "I haven't been offered yet, but I'd love to take a visit." He said he plans to major in business.
BlueGoldNews.com and Scout.com will have more interviews with combine participants in the coming days.