SNOW HILL, N.C. - Approximately 75 of the best rising senior football players in the state of North Carolina headed to Snow Hill, N.C. Saturday for the first of five Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas Combines. The combines help determine which players will make up the North Carolina team for the 2006 Shrine Bowl, which will be held in December in Spartanburg, S.C., while also providing extensive exposure for all those who participate. Rivals.com was on hand for all the action.
With clear skies and a blustery wind driving across the football field at Greene Central High School Saturday afternoon, the Shrine Bowl Combine season kicked off with the first of five events to take place over the next several weekends.
Ed Emory, the former head coach at East Carolina and the longtime head coach at Richmond County High, welcomed the participants, numbering approximately 75, with words of encouragement and advice.
Emory, one of the state's most highly respected football coaches, will serve as the skipper of the North Carolina team in the 2006 Shrine Bowl, and on Saturday, he spent a great deal of time working with the players during their drills and the individual skills period that followed.
The combine's participants, which for the first time were limited only to rising seniors, were broken down into positions and went through drills including the 40-yard dash, the pro shuttle, the vertical jump, the bench press, and an agility drill, along with an accurate recording of each player's height and weight.
Multiple players that are currently receiving recruiting interest from North Carolina were on hand at the event, including a few individuals that have already received scholarships.
One such player, Desmond Roberts of Northhampton West High School, did not put up eye-popping numbers, but he did demonstrate the size and agility that has earned him scholarship offers from UNC, N.C. State, South Carolina, and East Carolina.
Checking in at 6 feet 3 ½, 261 pounds, Roberts posted a respectable 21.1-inch vertical jump. While the speed numbers are not elite, Roberts possesses outstanding footwork and awareness, which is why he is coveted by many local Division I-A programs.
One of the day's top performers was Josh Oglesby of Garner High School, who put together numbers worthy of a future Shrine Bowler.
Oglesby, who checked in at 5-10, 202, threw up 25 repetitions on the bench press, vertically jumped 31.0 inches, and had very impressive 40 and shuttle times.
His first 40-yard dash attempt, which was run into a prevailing wind that slowed down most of the day's times, came in at 4.45, and he followed it up with another solid time of 4.51.
However, Oglesby's finest numbers were reserved for the pro shuttle, where he registered times of 4.19 and 4.04, which were among the best of the entire Combine.
Another of the day's top performers was quarterback Brandon Miley of Hoggard High School in Wilmington, who proved himself to be arguably the top signal-caller at the event.
Miley, who checked in at 6-1, 196, registered 14 repetitions on the bench press, a very solid number considering he was nearly pressing his own weight (185 lbs.).
In addition, he posted a 28.2 inch vertical jump, a 4.7 seconds on the 40-yard dash, and a 4.36 on the pro shuttle.
Following the Combine drills, Miley put on a clinic during the individual skills period, throwing pinpoint spirals to a number of different receivers. He received praise from multiple coaches, including Coach Emory, for his accurate tosses.
Another strong showing was put in by Northeastern High School tailback Daronte McNeil, who in a post-Combine interview, indicated that he has offers from East Carolina, Virginia, and Louisville, and is also getting serious interest from Virginia Tech, Nebraska, Penn State, North Carolina, and N.C. State.
McNeil, who came in at 6-0, 220, ran both of his 40s in the 4.7 range, the first in 4.74 seconds, and the second in 4.78.
His best pro shuttle time, which came in at 4.5, was even more impressive, and he jumped 26.3 inches in the vertical leap drill.
Furthermore, McNeil showed outstanding size and athleticism during the individual skills period, catching a number of passes and demonstrating superior downfield acceleration following the catch.
McNeil, along with Oglesby, Miley, and Roberts, all indicated that they are interested in North Carolina, and they all plan to spend more time on the UNC campus over the next year.
Stay tuned to Rivals.com for complete coverage of the Shrine Bowl combines this spring.