MASSILLON, Ohio- The NIKE Football Combine took place at Washington High School Saturday, inside the beautiful 80,000 square-foot Paul L. David Athletic Training Center. The event organizers needed every foot of the facility.
Nearly one thousand high school players took part in the event. Collectively, they produced some of the best scores ever seen at one NIKE combine.
"We had more 100-plus SPARQ ratings today than we have ever had at a single combine," Greg Biggins of ESPN Rise said. "Normally, two or three kids will break the 100 mark, today 13 broke it."
Grant sets the standard
Akron (Ohio) St. Vincent-St Mary cornerback Doran Grant has more than 20 scholarship offers. So, his incentive to even participate in a combine is far lower than most others. However, Grant set a new SPARQ record, posting a 124.5 rating. He ran a 4.56 40-yard dash, a 3.97 pro-shuttle and recorded a 41.2-inch vertical leap.
"I was actually surprised by it," Grant said. "I haven't been really working out for it because I have been playing basketball, but I will take it."
Grant will lead St. Vincent-St. Mary in a playoff game Saturday night against Canal Fulton Northwest.
"My basketball coach understands that football comes first for me. He doesn't have a problem with me coming to a camp or a combine to work out or go to the [Rivals.com] Five-Star Academy. He knows that is what I have to do."
Grant is no stranger to NIKE combines. He has been attending SPARQ events for his entire high school career.
"My first one was actually my 8th grade year, I had a 68 or so. So I have just kept coming back. So now I have the 124.5 rating. That is pretty good for me. But this will be it."
Grant's offer list stretches from coast to coast. He holds offers from USC, California, Ohio State, Georgia, Notre Dame, Penn State, and many more.
"I am not planning on taking too many visits this Spring," Grant said. "In April I am going to Georgia Tech, I will visit Michigan State, too. But I will be concentrating on basketball and track, too."
Grant says he maintains an open approach to the recruiting process, and has no favorites at this time.
Previous record gone in a flash
Before Grant finished his work, Aaron Lindgren had stolen the show Saturday. He held the record SPARQ rating for a very short period of time, about an hour. But his testing performance Saturday should go a long way toward helping his recruitment take off.
The Willoughby (Ohio) South prospect ran a 4.47 40, a 4.25 shuttle, and posted a 33.9 vertical jump, leading to an overall SPARQ rating of 117.24.
"It feels great," Lindgren said. "This is my first SPARQ combine. I just came to get some times. To do as well as I did is great to know. To see all of these kids, I walked in here thinking there is going to be a lot of talent here, and there is. Just to get at the top with what I did, I am glad."
"I hope this is a big step forward, I haven't really heard from any colleges. I play slot receiver and outside linebacker. I was All-Ohio honorable mention, all-county, and first team all-conference. I just try to improve everyday. It is all about the team, and we just try to get better. "
Hollowell keeps pushing
Delonte Hollowell is another prospect who came out to compete, with perhaps little incentive to spend his Saturday morning away from home. The Detroit Cass Tech star committed to the Wolverines in January, but made the trip to Massillon.
"It feels good to be committed to Michigan," Hollowell said. "I have never felt better than when I committed to them. That is the best school right now for me. I don't know about everyone else, but it is the best school for me right now."
Hollowell posted a very high SPARQ rating of 102.18. He ran a 4.57 40 and a 4.28 shuttle.
"You should never stop competing with everyone," Hollowell said. "I have to prove myself, even though I am committed. I got into playing football so I can compete, so I will continue to compete."
"I am going to the NIKE camp on May 1st in Columbus. I am going to go to some more elite prospect camps. I will just continue to compete."
Hollowell's teammate, Kishon Wilcher, posted the events top 40-time, a 4.43. He also had the 6th best SPARQ rating at 106.98.
Lingren had the second fastest 40-time at 4.47, and Youngstown (Ohio) Ursuline's Akise Teague (101.4 SPARQ) and Lansing (Mich.) East's Tyler Allen tied for third fastest at 4.53.
Dunn will be one of Ohio's best in 2012
Canton (Ohio) Glenoak running back Brionte Dunn presents a terrifying combination of size and speed. The 2012 prospect measured in today at 6 feet 1, 217 pounds for an overall SPARQ rating of 114.72- the third highest score of the day.
He ran a 4.59 40, a 4.29 shuttle and added a 35.5-inch vertical leap.
"I have been working hard and hoping I get far," Dunn said. "So far, I am getting there."
Dunn did make a couple of game visits this fall, one to Columbus for the Ohio State-USC game, and one to Pittsburgh for the Panthers game vs. Cincinnati.
"The Pitt-Cincinnati game was cool," Dunn said. "The Ohio State game was loud, really loud."
Dunn said he plans to attend a camp at Ohio State this summer. He has also head from Michigan State, Penn State and Pitt.
"My childhood favorite was Ohio State," Dunn said. "But now it is more open because it appears more opportunities will be coming in."
"I like teams that run the ball a lot. I would like to be on a hard working team - a championship team."
-Massillon (Ohio) Washington's powerful wide receiver duo was in attendance. Devin Smith and Justin Olack did not work out, but they were present the entire combine, helping the organizers hand out material for the combine. Smith will be at Ohio State on March 13th, then at Notre Dame on March 20th. Olack will be at Notre Dame as well, and maybe at Ohio State. When Smith was asked if any schools stick out, he said "I like ND a bit right now." Olack added that he hopes to visit Michigan soon. Smith is looking into trips to Michigan State and Cincinnati.
-Coshocton (Ohio) linebacker Zack Shaw said Indiana is his leader at this point. He sports offers from the Hoosiers, Ball State, Kent State, and Toledo. He came in at 6 feet 3.5, and 218 pounds. He ran a 4.84 40, 4.47 shuttle and a 29.9-vertical leap - solid numbers for a big guy.
-Portsmouth (Ohio) West stud Trevon Pendleton said Wisconsin may be close to offering a scholarship. He will be visiting Madison in the near future. Pendleton didn't get to display his knack for dominating one-on-ones at this event, but he posted some solid scores - 4.93 40, 4.38 shuttle and a 31.7-inch vertical.
-Massillon has always been a special place to watch a football game on Friday nights. Their indoor facility is a sight to be seen, and adds another tremendous element to the experience at Washington High School. It includes a full 120-yard football field, with plenty of room outside the sidelines and back of the end zones. To get an idea of how special this place is, consider that it is 20,000 square feet bigger than the indoor facility the Cleveland Browns practice in.