The BSN High School Combine Experience
National Scouting Combine
Last Monday, January 15th, I had the pleasure of being able to film and photograph the happenings of a High School Football Combine for the first time. It was an experience that was eye-opening from a bevy of avenues. I then realized I had been given the opportunity to observe up-close the work, effort, and talent it takes to be a big time high school football athlete. An athlete who is hoping to get noticed by colleges for scholarships, and be given a chance to play the game they enjoy against higher level of competition.
I realized from the moment I walked into the Arena Club facility in Bel Air, Maryland the Combine taking place was a major chance for these young athletes to show off their elite skills. From there I started my day by introducing myself to Mr. Jimmy Kibble and his staff, and then began setting up for a full day of shooting and photographing. Beginning with the check-in period of the day, I got to observe many of the athletes enter the facility and prepare for an important day in their young careers.
Players of all different shapes, sizes, and backgrounds filed in one after another. Parents also were plentiful with some coming to drop off their children, some who stayed to cheer them on, and some who stayed to coach them up. Each athlete received their individual number at the check-in table, and each parent claimed a seat as both parties prepared for a Combine that will require much sweat, effort, and support. One of the more interesting instances I captured was during the downtime before the start of the Combine. I observed all the different warm-up routines of the athletes, as well as, the conversations between the different athletes as they awaited the commencement of the Combine.
“Overall the experience of the Combine was one I will never forget. It was an amazing site to watch these young athletes work-out and show off their skills for a chance to get noticed by officials and scouts on the next level. ”
AOne of the more interesting instances I captured was during the downtime before the start of the Combine. I observed all the different warm-up routines of the athletes, as well as, the conversations between the different athletes as they awaited the commencement of the Combine.
Some of the athletes stretched out and did their own light warm-ups. Some took part in conversation catching up with high school friends and rivals. Then some just relaxed as they waited to begin the festivities. Now finally festivities were under way as all the athletes were called to the center of the field by the coaches and trainers. During this short gathering the athletes were given a rundown of how the event was organized and operated. They were instructed on how and where they would warm-up before getting into the real combine drills. From there the coaches and trainers present at the event the main leader of the warm-ups being named Josh put the young athletes through several different exercises to prepare them for the true tests. These athletes went through a multitude of stretches and sprints.
All of which were as many of the coaches said, “key to preparing their bodies for the challenges to come.” The kids were certainly tired after these warm-up alone, but now were ready for the real evaluation to start. Now the Combine had begun with the first half being focused around the physical skill sets of these young athletes. There were 5 stations to test their physical talents, with the first being a station for the 40 yard dash. The others included stations such as bench press, shuttle drills, and a vertical jump test. Each station ultimately testing the resolve and ability of each athlete. Now not every athlete performed the way they wanted to or as what was anticipated, but the main thing the coaches and trainers did while there was push and encourage each and every athlete to do their best.
The athletes themselves all did a great job encouraging each other as well and supported each other knowing all of them were there to achieve the same. Ultimately there were standouts for drills at every turn, but all the athletes performed admirably.
Photo by: Michael Chase
Then after these drills were completed the athletes were all called in together again to congratulate themselves for their hard work in the first half of the Combine. Also during this time Fred Brown a representative of the Army All-American Bowl took time to talk to the athletes present.
He spoke on the opportunities in front of them, as well as, the effort required for them to get noticed to have a chance to play at the next level. Then Mr. Brown concluded with how slim the chances of all these kids making it are, but spoke of the drive they must have to give themselves a shot to get noticed by other venues and opportunities other than the Army All-American Bowl. Thus Mr. Brown gave them plenty of perspective on how hard it is to make it in the game. But also provided great hope and advice on how to approach there route to the next level of football.
Following this talk this point the coaches instructed the athletes on the specifics of final half of the Combine. From this point of instruction the athletes were split up by position and sent to their own specific drills to be evaluated on their football skills. The quarterbacks in their drill were evaluated on their abilities to throw different types of routes and worked along with the receivers to test timing, technique, and their ability to follow instruction. The instruction part was key because the kids at times did not run the route or make the right throw and the coaches used these as teaching lessons throughout to make them better. The running back drills tested the athletes on their balance, footwork, and ability to fight through contact. The linebackers and defensive backs had drills to test reaction time, lateral quickness, footwork, and coverage skills. Then finally the lineman were tested on quickness, footwork, and power. Though of all the drills I watched I saw a very interesting occurrence take place with two of the kids. This event was when I saw two athletes in the Quarterback group talking with one another. This was interesting to me, because one of the athletes who was a high school underclassmen was being coached up by one of the older participants in the Combine. The upperclassmen was helping the underclassmen by giving him tips on his footwork and trying to boost his confidence throughout the drill. The underclassmen was struggling a bit in the throwing drills but with the encouragement of the upperclassmen he gained confidence and his performance improved. It was truly a great sight to see from these young athletes. The athletes were pushed throughout and some certainly stood out but all athletes again showed well overall.
Photo by: Michael Chase
After the drills were completed the coaches, trainers, scouts, and athletes all gathered together one more time. The coaches all gave their speeches on how they evaluated the overall performance of the group of athletes. Then they had a couple of more individuals speak with them and then broke the huddle and sent the athletes off to their parents and back home.
Overall the experience of the Combine was one I will never forget. It was an amazing site to watch these young athletes work-out and show off their skills for a chance to get noticed by officials and scouts on the next level. They all worked hard and some left encouraged, while some left wanting to show more. But in the end through the photos and footage I was able to capture that day. I was thus able to experience an event that was certainly huge for the kids, but an even greater experience for me at the end of the day.
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