The National Underclassmen Combine made a stop at the Sports Blast Sport Facility in Birmingham, Alabama recently, and walking away with the Overall MVP was sophomore DB Jacolby Hardnett of Opelika High School. Hardnett was amazing throughout the event, and set a new National Underclassmen Combine record in the broad jump.
The sophomore had an amazing 10'7" broad jump, to go along with a 4.39 shuttle, 4.71 40, 37.5-inch vertical, and 19 reps on 155 pounds. At 5 feet 10 and 175 pounds, Hardnett is a great all-around athlete and was fabulous in coverage. Also winning an award for Opelika High School was sophomore RB Corey Grant, who took home the Fastest Man Award with a 4.47 40. The 5-foot-9, 170-pound running back is also an all-around great athlete, and proved that with a 37-inch vertical, 9'9" broad, 4.19 shuttle, and 22 reps on 155 pounds.
Winning the DL MVP was sophomore Martaze Jackson of Demopolis High School. Jackson, 6 feet 2 and 204 pounds, showed fantastic rush technique and speed during one-on-ones, and he also excelled during the combine events with a 10'1" broad, 32-inch vertical, 4.78 40, and 4.52 shuttle. Deserving a special mention on the defensive line is freshman Alex Bearden of Springville High School. Bearden, 6 feet 2 and 225 pounds, showed tremendous upside for a freshman during one-on-ones, plus he had 26 reps at 155 pounds, a 4.69 shuttle, 4.91 40, 24.5-inch vertical and an 8'0" broad.
While Bearden didn't win an award at the NUC this year, someone from his high school did take home a trophy. Sophomore offensive lineman Chase Hughes was named the Strongest Man with 18 reps on 185 pounds. Hughes, 6 feet 2 and 280 pounds, also had a 5.36 40, 4.61 shuttle, 22-inch vertical and 8'0" broad. The OL MVP went to sophomore Seth Reedy, 6 feet 3 and 254 pounds, of Piedmont High School, who showed a great combination of size, strength and athleticism. Reedy also finished with 14 reps on 185 pounds, a 4.98 shuttle, 5.37 40 and 23.5-inch vertical.
Coming from Minor High School was DB MVP sophomore Terrance Slaughter. At 6 feet and 190 pounds, Slaughter possesses great cover skills in the bump n' run, and was equally impressive during the combine events. He had a 29.5-inch vertical, 4.38 shuttle, 4.74 40, 8'7.5" broad, and 12 reps on 155-pounds. Pushing Slaughter the entire way for the DB MVP award was sophomore Jeremy Wallace of Demopolis High School. Wallace, 5 feet 6 and 159 pounds, also showed excellent bump n' run technique, plus he had a 27-inch vertical, 4.88 40, 4.40 shuttle, and 15 reps on 155 pounds.
The best signal caller of the day was QB MVP Preston Messer of McGill Toolen High School. The sophomore has great feet, a smooth release, and showed very good accuracy on both short and long throws. At 6 feet and 182 pounds, he had a 27-inch vertical, 8'10" broad, 4.55 shuttle and 26 reps on 155 pounds. While sophomore Braxton Chitty of Northview High School did not win the QB MVP, he did take home the Combine King Award for sophomores. Chitty, 6 feet 3 and 177 pounds, had a 35.5-inch vertical, 4.51 40, 9'9.5" broad, 4.27 shuttle and 12 reps on 155 pounds. Aside from excelling in the combine events, Chitty also threw a very good ball, and he has the potential to become a top dual-threat quarterback prospect next year.
Winning the Combine King Award for freshmen was LB Charles Benning of McGill Toolen High School. Benning is a tough player, who already shows great linebacker skills as a frosh. However, it was the combine events where he truly excelled. At 5 feet 11 and 211 pounds, he had a 34-inch vertical, 8'6" broad, 4.91 40, 4.64 shuttle, and 36 reps on 135 pounds. The Overall Freshman MVP went to another linebacker, Curtis Woods of Pisgah High School. Woods, 5 feet 7 and 179 pounds, more than makes up for his lack of size with his aggressiveness and athleticism. He also showed that athleticism during the combine events, as he had a 33.5-inch vertical, 9'0" broad, 4.28 shuttle, 4.68 40 and 29 reps on 135 pounds.
While Benning and Woods were two freshman linebackers who excelled, the LB MVP went to sophomore Taylor Hunter of Handley High School. Hunter, 6feet and 188 pounds, has all the tools to be a top level linebacker recruit. He also had a 30.5-inch vertical, 4.74 40, 4.49 shuttle, 9'0" broad and 19 reps on 155 pounds.
Two players went neck and neck for the RB MVP throughout the event, but the award was finally given to sophomore Michael Hale Jr. of BB Comer High School. Hale, 5 feet 8 and 150 pounds, showed great feet and quickness during both the one-on-ones and the individual drills. He finished with a 30-inch vertical, 4.39 shuttle, 4.78 40, and 10 reps on 155 pounds. The other running back who excelled was freshman Alonzo Harris of Gasden City High School. Harris, 6-foot-0 and 178-pounds, really stepped up and delivered during one-on-ones, which is when he truly showed off his athleticism. He also had a 30-inch vertical, 9'0.5" broad, 4.62 shuttle and had 10 reps on 135 pounds.
The other Gasden City High School freshman who made a name for himself was QB Terrick Wright, who won the Leadership Award. Aside from being a great athlete, Wright, 6 feet 2 and 177 pounds, learned how to lead his receivers during the one-on-ones, and taught them how to get open on high completion routes. Wright showed off his athleticism during the combine events with a 28.5-inch vertical, 9'3" broad, 4.60 shuttle, 4.99 40 and 18 reps on 135 pounds.
The final award of the event went to WR MVP Greg Blansit of Valley Head High School. Blansit, 6 feet 3 and 190 pounds, is a great route runner with very good hands, which led him to excel during the one-on-ones. He also had a 29-inch vertical, 4.60 shuttle and 4.96 40.