Combines: Hurt or Help?

The High School Football Combine era has taken a full spin in recent years.  When the original combines evolved many years ago it was an excellent way for players to get good feedback and get serious exposure.  Originally, the Division I coaches was allowed to participate.  This was an excellent way for many players to get recruited.  Players from every small town to every inner city would come out and show their skills.  The prices were held to a minimum and participation skyrocketed.


Once people saw how many players were coming to the combines and the possibility of money being made changed the landscape.  Then the NCAA decided to ban Division I coaches from participating and the landscape of combines in the USA mass produced.  Many of the combines were nothing more than money makers.  Almost all the combines were scams. Players were  being told that multiple colleges were being fed their results.  Yes, they emailed some G.A. at the local college the scores, but trust me, nobody payed any attention.


However, in the last few years, several of the legit combines have survived and giving players exactly what they were looking for.  So, with this in mind, do combines help or hurt you in your recruiting process?  So, let’s look at the variables.


Combines basically do two very basic things! #1 they can prove you can play at a high level athletically.  #2 they can prove you cannot play athletically.  How can it prove you cannot play?  If you go to a combine and do not produce then it is on paper, you can’t go back and change it.  You may go to another one and get a better score but guess what – your score is on paper.  If you are a running back and go to a combine and drop a 4.85 40 then you sealed your fate.  Nobody is going to see a 4.85 and decide to start recruiting you.


Defensive Lineman are running that time these days.  There are so many arrogant players and parents who truly believe they can be the best thing in history at the local school and not train for the combines and just show up and land a scholly just because you’re the man.  Parents are worse than the players in this.  Many players know their level and their skill but somebody told their parents they were great and they signed up for every combine on the coat.


How can they help?  First it is a competition with yourself.  You go to a combine after a year of hard work and then you can see how you compare to the other players in the country.  That is a very good way to look at combines.  A challenge and an opportunity to compete with the best in the country.  However, the secret is you trained for it.  Listen to your coach.  We have news for you: they will call your high school coach first.  You can hire every speed and position expert in the country but believe it, they will call your coach first.  There are zero problems having extra help from experts but always lift with the team first and have the personal trainer work on the little thing that cannot be accomplished by the high school coach.  Either way listen to those who know and have done it and train before you go.


Several indicators give a good perspective more than others.  For instance, the 40 time is great but it’s not the end all in the process.  In saying that you better be in the perimeters in your position though.  Vertical Jump is an indicator on explosiveness.  The shuttle drill and L drill are good indicators of quickness and speed burst.  Several of those type drills need to be worked on before you go to a combine.  Even though your strength level should be improved, most college coaches know they can improve that tremendously upon arrival.



The next stage in the combine will be one on one work.  If you have not trained and go to a combine, this is where it will show the most.  WR’s not primed for this will be jammed up and DB’s not primed will get exposed in coverage.  LB’s who haven’t practice will be tasked with covering backs out of the backfield (hard to win even for the best) or big tight ends.  O-Lineman with sloppy feet will be exposed immediately and D-Lineman with no strength will get eaten up if their speed doesn’t come through.


So, as you see these two things are going to happen, #1 prove you can play and #2 prove you cannot play.  It is entirely up to you.  Use the data in a responsible way and be honest with yourself.  Take the data and go back to work and improve the scores.   Then begin the process of getting better.  Always look for ways to become better.  The players that become satisfied get passed up.  The ones who do not work hard will eventually phase out.


So here are the 5 keys things to do for the Combine in High School:


  1. Research and see if it is legit. Ask your high school coach, he knows the truth.  Be careful to ask some trainers because they are paid by the combines to get you there.


  1. Research and see what tests are going to be applied. Then work on those drills prior to going so you have a comfort zone on what you’re going to be tested on.  Never just show up.


  1. Always get tested in the 40 or 20 dashes electronically prior to going to the combine. Your track or speed coach should have one.  Never use the hand-held score as your go to on this.  You will be surprised in the difference on hand held and electronic times.


  1. Work your craft. Work on position specific drills prior to going.  It is legal in every state to go out and work with your fellow team mates or position coaches.  Just ask for help.


  1. It is all about academics in the first place so you can be the best player on God’s green earth but if your grades don’t match then you’re the next guy on the corner telling everybody how good you were.

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