By: Chad Wilson – Editor – GridironStuds Blog
I hear it every year about this time. The Twitter horde that goes on and on about a combine clip of a drill they don’t like and is unrealistic. The mob gets all up in arms about how the drill doesn’t represent anything that will happen in a real game and schools won’t recruit a guy off of this “dumb drill”. If only that were true.
Truth of the matter is that those silly combine drills, those irrelevant 7on7s and unrealistic 1-on-1s all serve their purpose in the whole recruiting puzzle. All of that stuff that Mr. Muddy Trenches could careless for boosts a kid’s recruiting profile and helps to get them recruited for several reasons.
Let’s begin with the reason that you don’t like. Let’s also begin with the drill that seems to draw the most ire. That drill is the RB vs. the LB drill that is popular at the shoe camps. You guys know which one I am talking about. It’s the one where the RB has the ball in his hand and must get by the LB in between two cones set several yards apart. What we often see are an insane amount of jukes by the RB that can result in success for him in the drill. Let’s give college coaches and recruiting media credit. They all know that in a “real” game, Teddy 3 Tech is going to come through the RB’s spine if decides to kill grass in one spot too long. So you are no genius when you point out that he would’ve gotten killed or that won’t happen in a game.
One the reasons that this absurdity helps a kid get recruited is one of the reasons that you hate, publicity. An amazing, athletic juke fest that results in embarrassment for the LB ends up going viral. Viral in this day and age is a prospect’s digital bitcoin. It builds their aura and their profile. Right or wrong, it does that. It also sends people scurrying to that prospect’s game film and other pieces of potential recruiting material. No school recruits a guy off of that one clip. However, we are in a time in society where bit clips can catapult you to fame. Will some schools place too much importance on that one clip? Perhaps but I can assure you that they don’t base their entire decision on that one rep at the one camp that one day so relax. The same is true when a LB is over aggressive in that drill and shuts down the juking RB with a jolting two hand tag or shoulder drop. Those videos also go viral and have the same effect. You know who also benefits when these clips go viral? The recruiting and shoe companies benefit when the clips are viewed thousands and millions of times so don’t bet on those drills going away any time soon.
The second reason why these drills get prospects recruited may sit a little better with you. Anything that has the potential to display a prospect’s athleticism has value. These players can’t be in pads all year long playing “real” football. When the offseason comes, with the exception of one month of spring ball in select areas of the country, evaluation comes at the hands of shorts and shirts activities. No one is hitting anyone in shorts and shirts so athleticism becomes the focus. We may all cringe at a 30 move ensemble by a RB at a Rivals camp. However, if it displays tremendous quickness, balance and flair, it gives insight into what a prospect may be able to do under more normal conditions. Football players have been recruited by scouts watching them on the basketball court. No one is dunking on anyone when they hit the gridiron but watching a guy move on the court may give you a clue to how athletic they may be. Watching a QB sit in the pocket unbothered for 4 seconds at a 7on7 tournament and throw a bullet in the corner of the end zone may not simulate a realistic Friday night occurrence. Despite that, the bullet he threw may show off the arm strength he never gets to display while running his veer offense in mid October.
The bottom line is that railing on the offseason recruiting activities like combine drills is a waste of time. First, they aren’t going away any time soon. Second, they provide more exposure for high school athletes and that’s a good thing. Finally, they provide another piece to the puzzle for their recruitment that fuzzy high school film that can seem like it’s filmed from Saturn may not be able to reveal. Take all this stuff for what it’s worth.
Chad Wilson is a college football recruiting expert and creator of the GridironStudsApp which allows high school football players to gain exposure to college football coaches and fans. Wilson is a former college football player for the University of Miami (92-94) and Long Beach St. (’90-’91) and played briefly for the Seattle Seahawks (’95). He is also a former youth and high school football coach for over 15 years most recently for 5-A State of Florida Champs American Heritage. He runs All Eyes DB Camp a defensive back training company located in South Florida IG: @alleyesdbcamp. Wilson’s oldest son Quincy plays in the NFL for the New York Giants and his younger son plays cornerback for the Arizona Cardinals.