Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Troy High players headed to Next Level combine

The last time Jordan Canzeri (pictured above - photo credit, Mike McMahon - The Record) appeared at a Next Level Football combine, he earned the running back MVP award. That performance has garnered him the attention of college football coaches.

Now, he's bringing some of his Troy High teammates with him.

Shatiek Lewis, Josh Blaauboer, Evan Vadney and Kyle Geraci will all join him at the NLF combine in Cleveland this weekend. You can read a preview of the combine by clicking here. Nearly 300 players from around the Northeast are registered for the event.

For more on NLF, click here to view the website.

If I may opine...

New York State has always seemed to lag behind the rest of the nation in terms of sending players to Division I football programs. Sure, Section II sends a player or two to a major college every year. Still, football players from the Capital Region seem to lag behind their baseball and basketball counterparts in the athletic scholarship count.

And why is that? I don't think it's for lack of effort.

The short schedule in New York State certainly doesn't help, as teams in the southern states play longer regular seasons. While there are plenty of competitions and camps in the Capital Region (Cohoes' Tiger Shootout 7-on-7 passing tournament, football team camps at UAlbany, Union and RPI), football players don't quite have an equivalent to summer baseball or AAU basketball where college coaches are clamoring for recruits.

It's a physical sport, so subjecting players to full-contact practices and games through the summer and spring months is a brutal option. Basketball and baseball players always run the risk of injury, but they play doubleheaders all summer, showcasing their skills. Weightlifting and 7-on-7 drills are nice, but it's hard for college coaches to evaluate how a player competes on the gridiron based on off-field workouts. The NLF combines mimic the process NFL teams use to evaluate potential draft picks.

In a way, NLF is trying to do for high school football players what AAU teams do for basketball players. There is a cost, of course. Players pay a $80 entry fee to gain entrance to a combine. NLF, is after all, a business, and facility rentals, insurance and all of those expenses add up.

It will be interesting to monitor the success of groups like the NLF and see if they can help athletes from New York State earn scholarships at major conference football schools. Will a copycat organization spring up in the Capital Region or will players continue to pay $80 and foot the bill to travel to Ohio for a chance to catch the eye of a college coach? Is it worth it? Time will tell.

UPDATE (5/13, 4:05 p.m.): It has been brought to my attention from a few sources that NLF no longer charges a combine fee ($80) to athletes. The organization is in the process of updating its website, which is where I found that information.

The main point here is that local players are still paying transportation and lodging costs out of pocket to attend a combine in Ohio because they feel they aren't getting the looks from colleges that they deserve playing in Section II. Perhaps that has to do with the lack of a major college program in the area. Syracuse, I would say, is closest, although some would argue Syracuse football and 'major' can't exist in the same sentence.

NLF tried to arrange a combine in Batavia, New York, recently, but that fell through due to lack of interest.

The Record will continue to track this story, so look for more updates in the future.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Theres no fee for the NLF combines in Ohio. Good point and great article, thanks and keep up the good work.


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