Some of the area’s more talented football players were on hand Saturday for Athelite Sports Training Academy’s third annual All-Area Football Combine. Nearly 40 players attended this year’s workout.
Athelite’s Owner, Ryan Bowers, is a former Greenbrier High School star and college All-American at Presbyterian who also played professionally for nine years. NFL assistant coaches Brett Bech (Dallas Cowboys) and Lance Taylor (Carolina Panthers) were on hand to assist with the event.
The star of the day was Aquinas standout and University of Georgia signee Brendan Douglas. He won nearly every competition, posting some astonishing numbers such as a 40.5 inch vertical jump (Michael Jordan’s was 44 inches), a 10 foot, 2 inch broad jump (the top broad jump at UGA’s Pro Day this year was 10 foot, 3 inches), and he powered out 37 repetitions of 185 pounds on the bench press.
While the 6-0, 210 pound Douglas was the star, several Columbia County players rose to the occasion at the event. With his head coach Rodney Holder on hand, Grovetown freshman Ben Jean more than held his own versus the older and, in some cases, more accomplished group. Jean posted a 36.5 vertical jump, third out of the entire group. Jean also had the third-highest score on the Wonderlic Test, which is a general knowledge and aptitude test given to NFL prospects each year.
Evans running backs Ronnie Graham and Stephon Jacobs were among the top athletes in nearly every drill on the day. Graham, despite being 5-7 and 165 pounds, wowed the other competitors when he managed to push out 26 repetitions of 185 pounds on the bench press. That was good for second place behind Douglas, and despite going up against some of the area’s top lineman and being outweighed by nearly every other player at the combine.
Jacobs was among the top three athletes in the entire group of drills. He had the second-best broad jump with a mark of 9 feet 8 inches. He also was second with a vertical jump of 40 inches and in the 8-pound ball press. Jacobs also had one of the Top 5 shuttle times at 4.34 seconds, and was seventh with 20 repetitions of 185 pounds on the bench.
Another player to keep an eye on, and another top performer of the day was Lakeside sophomore Stephen Houzah. The 5-10, 170 pound defensive back was at or among the top in every speed related drill. He turned heads with a 6.88 time on the L-Drill, which was the second-fastest time all day. He also was the only athlete to top Aquinas’s Douglas in any event all day, with his sizzling 4.18 shuttle time. Douglas had the second-best time at 4.25.
Obviously the workout programs are far superior today to even a few years ago. I was blown away by the bench press repetitions turned in by this year’s participants.
Even the smallest, youngest players were able to do 10-12 reps of 185 pounds. And it seemed like every kid who jumped posted a vertical jump over 30 inches.
It is clear the players are taking advantage of the knowledge our coaches have these days. When you add in facilities like Athelite, where players can get advanced training and workouts, we are producing some terrific young physical specimens. Now, let’s hope that translates into wins on the field in the coming years.