High school football has become a year around sport. With spring ball, junior days and combines, next year's seniors not only have multiple opportunities to improve but also have multiple opportunities to be seen. Much as a solid performance at the NFL combine can get a player in the money, so to can a good forty or drill work catapult a high school player into D1 prominence. Over the last few weeks, many high profile combines have taken place throughout California. This year many Arizona players not only went to California combines, but once there they shined. Due to the population difference Arizona will always have less D1 recruits than California, but the elite players in Arizona not only competed they stood out at the combines.
Overall, the Arizona position group that may have shone brightest and raised it stock highest based on combine results, was the linebacker position. At the Scout.com LA combine, St. Mary's Keaton Kristick measured in at 6'3 and ran solid in the 40. Isaiah Smart of Moon Valley left a lasting impression at the Scout.com Berkeley combine by running a 4.6 forty, which was the fastest recorded by a linebacker. This performance coupled with his high SPARQ score at the Nike camp in Los Angeles should get Smart on more recruiter's radar. At the Nike camp at Stanford in May, Anthony Freeman of Cactus and Anthony Llanos of North Canyon both made lasting impressions for recruiters. Both LBs weighed in at over 225 pounds and ran in the 4.7-4.8 range while benching 185 pounds 30 or more times. Of all the LBs the one that made the most lasting impression was O'Connor's Austin Nielsen. At 218 pounds, Nielsen ran a smoking 4.58 forty that got many people interested.
Two other Arizona athletes that came home from California with recruiters talking were Chaparral's Nick Neuenfeldt and Saguaro's Tyler Porras. Neuenfeldt, the Chaparral QB, posted an amazing SPARQ score of over 100. At 6'3 229 pounds and running a 4.5 forty, college coaches may be looking at Neuenfeldt on the defensive side of the ball or tight end. Tyler Porras showed recruiters two things that are tough to coach. Legit 4.5 speed on a 6'2 frame.
Other Arizona athletes that stood out in California were Brantwon Bowser of Maryvale, Marcus Richmond of Dobson, Tim House of Centennial and Skyler Hagg of Ironwood. Bowser, at a rangy 6'0 ran a strong 4.58 forty helping cement him as a top cornerback recruit nationally. Tim House ran well posting a 4.5 forty. Marcus Richmond ran well and at 6'1 191 pounds attracted Pac 10 attention. Skyler Hagg of Ironwood blasted a 4.43 forty that turned many heads at the Nike LA camp.
All in all, the entire combine season went a long way to show that the elite of Arizona can compete with any group of athletes nation wide. Hopefully these strong showings will get more recruiters across the nation to look at Arizona athletes.