Competitive juices flow at high school football combine

Johnnie Akinso of Roosevelt participates in combine drills.

Johnnie Akinso of Roosevelt participates in combine drills. (May 5, 2013) (Credit: Ray J. Nelson)

It was high school football's version of a mini-decathlon. Six events designed to test speed, agility, strength and overall athletic ability. And given that there were more than 150 athletes at Sachem North last Sunday for the annual Blue Chip Prospects/Suffolk County Football Coaches Association combine, there was another element on display: competitive spirit.

"I like comparing myself to everyone else," said Chris Faison of Floyd, one of Suffolk's top returning running backs for the 2013 season who also excels at linebacker.

"I like the competition," said Roosevelt's Johnnie Akins, who plays the same two positions as Faison and is one of Nassau's elite rising seniors.

Even in shorts and T-shirts, the competitive juices were flowing at both the morning and afternoon sessions. The players know that college recruiters are big on what is referred to as 'the measurables' -- like the 40-yard dash and 185-pound bench press. "How fast" and "how many" were the questions of the day.

Several players supplied impressive answers. Andrew Lapreziosa of Smithtown West had the fastest time in the 40, running a 4.44. He also tied Connetquot's Michael Grimaldi for the best time in the 3-cone agility test at 7.0. Grimaldi was quickest in the pro-agility drill, at 4.0. R.J. Foster of Riverhead leaped the highest, 37.5 inches in the vertical jump. Thomas Reed of Deer Park topped the standing long-jumpers at 10-2 and John Devlin of West Islip had the most bench presses, 28.

Jordan Gowins of St. Anthony's had the most impressive all-around performance. The Friars' running back was second in the 40 (4.51), tied for third in the pro-agility (4.2), tied for third in the 3-cone (7.19), eighth in the vertical (34.3) and eighth in the long jump (9-4).

"We know the colleges look at that stuff, so I've been working on my speed and my agility," said Akins, who rushed for more than 2,000 yards and 15 touchdowns last season and, like Faison, was a Newsday All-Long Island second-team selection. "I've got to get some numbers for the colleges to look at."

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