Sunday’s Appalachia Prep Combine in Bluefield, West Virginia, attracted more than 150 high school football players, including thirteen from Union County.
For those keeping track, it was the first time I ever ventured beyond the Carolinas to cover any of our boys. As I mentioned in my early morning drive up to West Virginia, if football activities are limited in North Carolina (thanks, Coronavirus), one must travel to states where athletics are more accessible during this time.
Upon my arrival, I found out the Appalachia Prep Combine was the first nationally recognized high school football combine in the COVID-19 era.
Combines are never easy to cover. It’s an event similar to the circus. A lot of different things happening in many areas of the football field, so eyes and attention span are all over the place. It also doesn’t help not having a roster of players with assigned numbers. That aside, I did my best to cover the kids that looked familiar to me without a uniform or helmet.
Quick thoughts on UC kids that I viewed:
Myles Carroll (5'-11", 188 lbs)— Porter Ridge: I wish I had the opportunity to see more reps. The rising junior displayed a good touch on the ball and has a lively arm. Deft at selling the shoulder and head fake.
Isaac King (5'-10", 175 lbs)- Union Academy: Honestly, I didn’t see one rep from the county’s number two leading rusher. Ugh, so mad. I wasn’t alerted to his attendance until Isaac came up to me at the end of his session. I asked coaches for their feedback, and they were very impressed with King. They told me they had him as a top-three performer amongst the RBs at the combine.
David Oden (6'-2", 200 lbs)- Porter Ridge: Named Top TE at the combine. I had never seen David before and came away quickly impressed. One of the top shuttle runs on the day and solid throughout the combine testing period. Runs sharp routes, fluid out of cuts, and possesses soft hands.
Ryan Whetzel (6'-2", 230 lbs)- Piedmont: Another county TE I had not seen much. Big target who impressed coaches at the combine.
Damien Jackson Jr. (5'-11", 205 lbs)- Porter Ridge: Another kid I did not get to see in action, but I am happy to report that Damien’s performance on Sunday earned him the Top Log Snapper at the combine.
Tanner Larson (5'-11", 145 lbs)- Cuthbertson: I wasn’t aware he was attending until I hit the field. Strong leg but not enough time to honestly evaluate the rising-senior kicker.
Stephan Zayachkowsky (5'-9", 180 lbs)- Porter Ridge: Admission, I’m already impressed with the limited action I viewed from this PR linebacker during last season’s playoff run. One word that comes to mind when I see this kid on a football field- intensity. Athletic ability oozes from this young man. Quick feet and is a solid build. Earned the Top Defensive Underclassmen.
Brandon Perry (6'-0", 173 lbs)- Porter Ridge: Pure athlete. Smooth, almost effortless from the Pirates top playmaking running back/defensive back. Perry breezed through the 40 and shuttle.
Layton Duke (5'-9", 150 lbs)- Piedmont: Great 40, and although I did not catch most of Layton’s combine effort, the coaching feedback was unanimous. They were all impressed with the Panther DB. He will be One 2 Watch in the coming season for sure.