Rivals.com recently returned from the one of the largest college prep combines on the east coast. It was absolutely perfect football weather in the foothill mountains of Virginia as family and friends, along with more than 50 college recruiters and coaches, gathered for the Fall 2003 Hargrave Military Academy football combine.
The day began early in the morning of Dec. 8 as college coaches arrived from nearly every conference in the country. Coaches from the Alabama, Tennessee, North Carolina, Florida, NC State, Ole Miss, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Georgia, Purdue, Baylor, Arkansas, Georgia Tech and many others began the day by watching their choice of film on Hargrave players from this past season.
After a morning of film sessions and correspondence with various coaches, Rivals.com was on hand as the combine began with the timing of all Hargrave players in the 40 yard dash. Players were then timed in various agility drills and measured for their vertical jump. The combine finished up with a series of 7-on-7 drills for the skilled position players and agility/strength testing for interior lineman.
Several players put up very impressive performances throughout the combine...
Many coaches did a double-take on their stop watches as University of North Carolina-bound defensive tackle Khalif Mitchell (left) turned in a 4.78-second 40-yard dash on his first attempt. Not phased by a little doubt regarding the accuracy of the time, the 6-foot-6, 300-pound Mitchell turned around and ran a 4.71 in his a second timing.
Not to be outdone, fellow future Tar Heel defensive lineman Marcus Hands, a rush end at 6-foot-6 and 250 pounds, turned in a 4.78 time. A third member of the UNC defensive quartet, 6-foot-4, 255-pound defensive end Terry Hunter, was not to be bested with his quick time of 4.67 seconds and vertical of 31 inches.
Also drawing great praise at the combine was another future Tar Heel, 6-foot-4, 280-pound defensive lineman Kenny Price showed great strength and the intangibles needed to dominate at the line of scrimmage. Price ran a 4.95-second 40-yard dash and jumped 31 inches. Was there any wonder UNC head coach John Bunting was there in person to witness his future interior linemen?
The SEC shouldn't feel slighted as University of Arkansas commitment Rodney Giles (right), a 6-foot-3, 220-pound defensive end, turned in a mind-boggling time of 4.29-seconds in the 40, creating quite a buzz form the crowd. Giles is the type of defensive end who will have no trouble getting to the quarterback or recovering on a running back screen at the next level. He'll have the Arkansas faithful yelling "Suuueeey" for several years to come.
Giles also had the quote of the day....."Rivals.com is my favorite site for information. I go there everyday, to get my updates and do comparisons."
Other Arkansas committed players also took the opportunity on this day to shine in front of their future coaches and many others. Much like UNC, Arkansas found a solid foundation of interior linemen when they placed their trio of Hargrave linemen. Dustin Moore, a 6-foot-5, 360-pound tackle, who showed great agility for a big man and above average strength as he had no problem knocking out 20+ bench reps at 185 pounds.
He will be joined at Arkansas in 2004 by fellow Hargrave linemen Jeremy Palmoore and Marcus Harrison. Harrison was very impressive, running a 4.94-second 40-yard dash at 300 pounds, while Palmoore disappointed a bit with a 5.43-second 40-yard dash and only seven bench reps.
Tomorrow, more from the combine's top players.
Special thanks to Andy Crouch for contributing to this report.