CARLSBAD — The NFL Combine is a life of its own.
The four-day event showcases the best college football prospects in the country, which can lift or sink their draft stock.
High school combines have become a big business in their own right, as thousands of prep athletes flock to get timed in the 40-yard dash, shuttle drills and measured in broad and vertical jumps.
And for Cole Wright, 17, a junior wide receiver at Carlsbad High School, he, too, is taking up the chance to get his baseline numbers and see where to improve.
“I was a little nervous because it was my first time ever doing a combine,” he said. “But it was a good experience so I could get my baseline numbers.”
Wright is big prospect, and was Carlsbad High School’s leading receiver, for the Lancers, hauling in 36 receptions for 758 yards and seven touchdowns last season as the team made a deep run into the CIF San Diego Section playoffs. He is being recruited by nearly every Pac-12 and Mountain West Conference school, and just took an unofficial visit to Stanford last weekend.
Wright was one of more than 1,700 prep athletes from all over the country to attend the Rivals adizero (adidas) Combine in Los Angeles two weeks ago. While he didn’t disclose his marks, Wright said he ran the 40-yard dash, 5-10-5 shuttle, three-cone drill and the broad and vertical jumps, all staples of combines.
Although college coaches are not allowed to attend the high school combines, he said it’s an opportunity for athletes to perhaps make a splash.
“You get to do it twice, each one,” Wright said.
“He was in the 95th percentile of all the drills,” said Josh Wright, Cole’s father. “We were more using it for the training of it and the competition of it.”
As for the timing, Zybek Sports of Denver will be the official timer of more than 2,000 prep events this year, and was the timer for the combine Wright attended, according to founder Mike Weinstein. The company also does the official timing for the NFL Combine, which concluded earlier this week.
But the company’s packages are not football specific, instead they have branched out to incorporate softball, baseball and volleyball, to name a few.
“I saw the need for giving the athletes and the parents the ability to quantify their athleticism at an early age,” Weinstein said. “I think it’s really important for team sports. There are just so many other factors that go into the value of an athlete.”
Admittedly, Weinstein is not a sports fan. What he likes is the math and science behind his work and delivering objective measurements to help athletes improve and reach another level, be it college or the pros.
The athletes who register for the combines, or Zybek Sports, are given detailed reports of their performance. From there, they can adjust their training or work with a professional.
In the case of Wright, he trains with Brett Swain, a Carlsbad High and San Diego State University alum, who also played in the NFL and won the Super Bowl with the Green Bay Packers. Swain also helps coach the Lancers.
“For a lot of kids, it connects the dots where they’re at,” Weinstein said. “We’re showing them exactly how the compare athletically to all their peers.”
Steve Puterski covers Carlsbad and Vista. For tips or story ideas, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @StevePuterski.