Under Armour Combine: General Information and Interesting Occurrences

This is going to be the first of three posts this week recapping the Under Armour 2011 Recruiting Combine that took place this past Sunday at the Dolphins' Training Facility.  This first post is going to be general information about what exactly happened, how many recruits were there, and other interesting information.  The posts later this week will focus on the top performers (in MY totally unreliable viewpoint), some interviews I had with the guys, parents, coaches, combine results, and what the boys had to say about the Canes. Dsc02764_medium

(This is going to be written as a Q&A, with myself, so go ahead and read the questions out loud, it will feel interactive, and possibly make you care about what I'm saying.  Feel free to add expletives as you ask the questions and imagine how my responses would change. If you just want combine results, you're not getting it today. I'm using a crappy radio tease technique to make sure you come back later this week.)

What Was the Combine?

This was the culmination of a 3 day event that was put on by Under Armour.  Friday was a coaches' conference (lectures), Saturday was skills training for players (though not all players), and Sunday was the Combine itself. Think of it as the NFL Combine minus the Wonderlic. It also had the  pasty-white sports reporters, cameramen, and ESPN wandering around in common with the NFL Draft. 

Wait, Real Journalists Were There? How Did You Get Invited?

Yes, "real" journalists were there. People from ESPN, Manny Navarro (nice guy) from the Herald made it out most of the day, and Joe Rose hung out for about an hour.

The answer to your second question? I have no idea. I get an email, return a phone call, and amazingly I have full field access to the drills and recruits. 

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(What Under Armour was NOT doing by allowing me to hang out on Sunday).

What Were the Combine Drills/Stations?

9 total stations, including the standard ones that everyone loves to talk about but that don't really mean anything (40 yd dash, standing vertical jump, 185 lb bench press), along with other stations that really just take up space (sit and reach, grip test, and the standing broad jump). Because we all need to know how hard our recruits will shake hands and if they can jump into the endzone standing still from the 3 yd line.

Is That All?

No, there was about 35 minutes of 1-on-1 drills and then some 7-on-7 scrimmaging. But that was all preceded by the 4.5 hours of the combine itself. Being lazy and out of shape, I was probably more tired than the recruits who were poked, prodded, and measured the rest of the day. 

Why Do I Care?

Well...that's harder to say.  From the stations, you do get to see how athletic the 2011 (and some 2012, and very few 2013) recruits are up close.  From the 1-on-1 and 7-on-7 you can see flashes of what they could do with the right amount of time and coaching.  Plus, for the "elite" recruits, you get to see how good they are right now in skills-oriented competition and how physically developed they are.

What does it really mean? Probably nothing, because it's a combine, but it doesn't mean we still won't talk about it, agonize over it, and put way too much stock into the results for at least 2 more posts.

How Many Guys Were There and How Were They Divided Up?

Between 220-230 players were at the combine, and about 30-40 of the "top" South Florida recruits. I have absolutely no idea how the groups were split up, except that the "elites" had their own group and then more or less everyone else was split up into the other 8 groups (9 stations, 9 groups). They weren't  split up by position, size, or HS location. So you ended up with lineman running the 40 right after a wide-out and quarterbacks benching right after linebackers. It made for interesting comparisons.

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What a group of 230 recruits looks like.

God, This Post Has Been Really Boring, Did ANYTHING Interesting Happen?

Maybe. It was tedium interspersed with action. Watching guys do the sit-and-reach sucks, but it gives you an opportunity to interview some of the other guys and talk to the other lurkers (like me).

Okay, Name One Interesting Person That Was There...Dsc02744_medium

Todd Chandler hung out all day, supporting his Miami Northwestern teammates competing (Billy Rolle, III., Teddy BridgewaterDemetrius Allen, Lyndon Edwards, and Jermaine Reeves to name a few).  Chandler did tell me last year's Miami combine had more lineman, both offensive and defensive, compared to this year, which was skill-position heavy. I refrained from fighting him over the entire recruiting debacle he started. 

Okay, Anyone Else?

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Torrian Wilson, Chandler's teammate who signed with UCF was also hanging out.

Anyone Beyond 17 Year Old Kids?

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Keith Byars, former NFL star and current Boca Raton head coach. He's the one on the far right.  Wait, that's Keith Byars (II) wearing #75, class of 2012 next to him. So yes, there were also 16 year kids as well as 17 year olds there.

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Joe Rose also stuck his big head in the bubble for a few minutes, made a beeline straight for Bridgewater, and left shortly thereafter.

Okay, I'm Going to Regret Asking This, But Anything Else?

Sure, I had a 15 minute chat with Brad Lloyd, General Manager of Player Management for the Fremantle Dockers.

Who The Hell Are They? Didn't NFL Europe Go Under Like 8 Years Ago?

The Fremantle Dockers is an Australian Rules Football team from Western Australia (obviously). Brad is taking the opportunity to scout out possible US high school football players to steal, export back to Australia, and teach them to kick and not wear pads.  He told me a lot of their skills would carry-over into Aussie Rules, but that our players are all pansies because they wear pads and real men don't. (I made that last part up, he was actually pretty cool and interesting to talk to.)

How The Hell Does He Plan On Stealing Our Recruits?

Money. Lots of Money. To be paid as soon as they graduate high school. Aussie Rules really means "no rules," because he can sign an international player (because Americans are considered "International" to Australians) outside of the Aussie Rules draft and the Dockers would then own that player's rights free and clear from the other teams. Plus there isn't the ridiculous NFL age restriction that Aussie Rules have to live by.

I'm pretty sure Brad would also have to lie about the kicking part of the game until he signed and renditioned the recruits back to Fremantle. But I can't really give anymore information because he did hire me on as a state-side recruiter for Freo. (I made that up too. But he did tell me to email him if I see anyone he would be interested in, so give me 30 UF/FSU/Alabama/USC recruits he should go after.)

Weird. So How About Our Possible Recruits?

Oh, I'm out of time. You'll have to check back later this week.

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(Who supports me starting a Dockers' blog? I'll host viewing parties and everything.)

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