On Saturday, the first ever Appalachian Prep Combine was hosted and was a great success. Top talent from multiple states and regions were in attendance for a fun day of athletic and on-the-field competition. The registration and segments went by very smoothly with just a slight delay in the schedule by the end. Here’s our takeaway:
WV Came to Play
Many of the top awarded players reigned from the Mountain State. Bluefield’s Isaiah Johnson clocked the fastest time right in front of Spring Valley’s Owen Chafin and Richwood’s Jeremiah Johnston. Big time bench reps came from Robert C. Byrd’s Robert Arnold, Montcalm’s Christian Carper, Wayne’s Mike Bartram, and Madonna’s Donovan Kirby.
The 1v1 and 7v7 periods had a lot of guys getting after it. Malakai Brown was dominant route runner and pass catcher. Capital’s Chance Knox was also very hard to guard. Huntington’s Bryce Damous was playing at a dominant level. Team West Virginia in the 7v7 circuit played high quality ball due to big plays from Sissonville’s Will Hackney, South Charleston’s Carlito Carter, and Bluefield’s Juice Edwards.
Down with the lineman, Huntington’s Terrance Panky and Hedgesville’s Michael Turner played very impressive. Nick Malone of Morgantown also had an extremely solid day. Robert Arnold was the most impressive in athleticism and size. There were also several younger lineman from around that state that showed great promise.
Out-of-State Came to Play Too
Not lying, we initially wished the Appalachian Prep Combine was primarily West Virginia, but we quickly jumped on board for the idea of a regional combine. A lot of fantastic talent got opportunities to get timed, measured, and play some ball. The camp has already accelerated the recruitment attention Graham (VA) defensive back Cameron Allen was already receiving- he won Camp MVP.
Another great aspect of this a learning curve for different styles of plays and different types of athletes. A great example of this was Capital’s star-linebacker/defensive end/safety (he does it all folks) Breece Hoff. Hoff started rough with covering some very quick and nimble receivers. Coming out of the MSAC against run-heavy teams, the curve can be steep. However, by the third rep, Hoff was all over mostly every rep from then on out.
Also adding to the benefit of out-of-state kids, it is a great standard for West Virginia talent. Every area offers something good and going against exposed D1 talent can tell players a lot whether it means they can play or they can’t. Overall, it was an excellent idea and every kid got treated with complete unbiased and fairness- which is the name of the game.
What’s to Come
Speaking to the staff of the Appalachian Prep Combine, who were incredibly professional and helpful to us, they have some grand plans moving forward. As their site explains, you will be able to view the results. Not only that, but college coaches have access to results, reports, and contact information. They’re becoming a heck of a middle man for these young men.
As with any type of coach, nothing is ever perfect. Speaking to them, they believe there is worlds of improvement that can be made in every asset of the process. They are dedicated to polishing and polishing until it is perfect. Be excited because there is a lot of passion here.
Finally, it can be agreed with a resounding yes that the combine is the first step in exposing not just West Virginia talent looking for a next level home but also to any kid that the Appalachian Mountains can touch. They won’t stop until every region has the type of event that gives these young men a chance. Two thumbs up.