Paul Valencia column: Standouts see how they stack up

By Paul Valencia, Columbian high school sports reporter

Published:

 

For the wide receivers, there was a lot of hurry up and wait. But it was worth it.

For the quarterbacks, it was a dream scenario. The best wide receivers in the country were there, and it was their job to feed them with passes.

You bet it was worth it.

Four high school football players from Clark County participated in the U.S. Army National Combine last week in San Antonio, a gathering of 500 of the top high school underclassmen. At the event, held at the Alamodome, athletes were measured and photographed and timed in the 40-yard dash as well as the agility shuttle. They were graded with their position drills.

Oh, and they all said they were thrilled just to be there.

"It was a great experience to see all the talent from all over," Camas receiver Zach Eagle said. "It really opened your eyes to what's out there."

"The level of play and skill and athleticism that's out there in the country, it was great to be able to witness that," Hockinson quarterback Jess Krahn added.

"I had a great time just hanging out with the dudes," Camas quarterback Reilly Hennessey said.

"It made me think that I might be able to play with these guys," Heritage receiver E'Lon Mack said.

The athletes also figured out quickly that there are lot more wide receivers than quarterbacks in the country.

That's a good thing for the quarterbacks in San Antonio, and not such a good thing for the receivers.

"We sat there for a long time, just waiting," Mack said. "It goes slow. And you have to stay warmed up the whole time."

It took a long time to get everybody through the tests and measurements. That was to be expected. But when it came to position drills, well, that was not exactly what the receivers were hoping for when they accepted the invitation to attend.

"There were so many kids, it was hard to get reps," Eagle said. "I ran three routes in an hour."

That was one more than Mack.

Still, they have no regrets. The fact that they did not see much action just shows how big this combine has become through the years.

"It was just fun to meet other guys and talk to them about what football is like where they are from," Eagle said.

Their numbers and their grades will be out there for college coaches to see as the recruiting push begins this summer. If anything, they learned that they can compete with the best of the best.

"There definitely were some freak athletes there, but not everyone was crazy. I felt like I fit in," Eagle said. "I can be successful at the next level if someone gives me the chance."

"I felt like I did pretty good," Mack said.

The quarterbacks got to keep throwing to all those receivers, so they had more time to work up a sweat.

"I thought I did alright. It wasn't spectacular, but it wasn't bad, either," Krahn said. "I was pretty happy with my performance."

Hennessey said there was not a lot of coaching. There were a few tips here and there from the officials running the combine, but for the most part, it was a "let's see what you've got" session.

"The biggest thing I learned is I can compete with these guys all the way around the country," Hennessey said. "That was exciting."

Besides the drills, there also were seminars. Krahn said he got a lot out of those.

"I learned a lot from the speakers who talked about recruiting," Krahn said. "I learned from them what to expect and things we need to do to get ourselves seen."

Besides football, all four players had time to be tourists. They saw the River Walk and visited the Alamo.

"It was really fun," Hennessey said. "We just learned about the Alamo and Texas history in class."

These Clark County football standouts learned a lot about how a combine works, too.

Paul Valencia covers high school sports for The Columbian. He can be reached at 360-735-4557 or e-mail at paul.valencia@columbian.com.