By: Barry Barnes, Founder
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. – There is something about the unknown, that is either troublesome or intriguing to people. In football, there is no difference, especially when it comes to the NFL Regional Combine.
The Minnesota-held trial was just as frustrating, and appealing as the workouts usually are with its mixture of talents.
The NFL Scouting Combine is easy, comfortable and – known.
There are no surprises as the deserving and fortunate young men, who are inviting to the televised combine, have footage and stats accessible for less scouting work to be executed.
For the NFL Regional Combine, with hardly no footage and scattered stats on their applicants, it is trying. Pressure is on all the individuals involved because there’s just one shot in getting the process of scouting right. Clearly, the unfamiliarity of the NFL hopefuls deters many from the football world away.
What a rush of intrigue.
Michael Jenkins of Minot State and Timothy Clayton of Arizona Christian showed early they have the wheels to pay the bills. Southwest Minnesota State’s Michael Rverett is quick and possesses a wick first step, which allowed him to be solid defensively for his program.
Scott Middleton of Harding is quick and runs extremely hard and Rufus Wolokolie’s athleticism and hops turned some heads.
In terms of the total package for the grouping was Rverett’s teammate Dallin Finley and Jarell Carter of Trinity International.
“I like to emulate Tyrann Mathieu (Arizona Cardinals) because of size-wise,” said Finley. “Knowing that my size plays a factor in scouting for offenses, it makes me hungry to show them they won’t be able to throw all over me…I like to make my presence on the field.”
Finley stands 5-9, 180-pounds, but plays big. In his individual drills, he soared in the air to snatch balls down. The former high school quarterback smoothly made the transition in college to be a defensive back, and it should translate in getting to the NFL.
Finley has a quick first step and pounces on the ball essentially well. The physical defensive back has a natural feel for the game.
“My passion, hard work, dedication…my will to win. On special teams or anywhere on the field… when I’m needed, I will give them (a team) hundred percent,” said Finley.
Carter is an aggressive defensive back who is always in attack mode. Oftentimes throughout his trials, he was evidently antsy to take off as he wiggled his fingers in anticipation to “go.”
The 5-10, 184-pound aggressor has strong hands, great feet, balance and control, which can be credited to his receiving days in high school.
“Coming out of high school, I was definitely undersized and undeveloped” said Carter. “Going into my senior year, I was about 5-7, 132. I’m a late-bloomer. My dad always told me that (laughter).
“I played wide receiver in my four years at high school, so catching is natural to me,” he continued. “When I got to college, they (coaches) moved me to DB (defensive back) because we had three DBs who were seniors. The transition went great. I was always an aggressive blocker as a receiver, so the aggressiveness translated to the other side as a defensive player.”
Carter is man of great faith and strongly believes everything will work out in the end, including getting to the NFL.
“Whichever team gives me a chance, they getting a hard worker and a team player.” said Carter.
“I owe everything to God. I always put everything in HIs hands because He always work things out for me. I credit everything to Him.”
A few defensive linemen displayed a high motor with passion and good footwork like Chad Stoterau of Northern State, S.D.
However, for the second week in a row, the linebackers showed out.
Jeffrey Branch of Presentation College is strong and instinctive. Collegiate teammates in Michael Mehling and Logan Schultz from Northwood, Mich. are quick and has great control and balance.
Indiana State’s Jameer Thurman stated he was “a perfect fit” with the program. Thurman is fundamental sound with great posture as he keeps his head up to see through plays.
The humbled linebacker is all about team.
“I don’t want to say I was under recruited coming out of high school, but Indiana State recruited me and it was a perfect fit,” said Thurman. “I’m a special teams guy. I played on all phases of special teams. I played it throughout my years in college and wherever I’m needed on defense, I can perform there, too.”
It is common to witness a quarterback converting to defensive back with ease. For a former signal caller to turn linebacker, and be successful at position immediately, that is something special, which describes Robert Meade as a born leader.
“As for the leader part, before my first two years of college, I started at quarterback when obviously I had to be the leader of the offense,” said Meade. “When I just switched to defense, and through my hard work and mentality, I had the young guys rallying behind me.”
In his Back Pedal and Back Pedal React Drills, Meade’s technique came at full circle. Standing 6-3, 245-pounds, the Kean University standout is light on his feet and his reaction time is fantastic. 74 tackles, three sacks, three interceptions and two forced fumbles translate to any level of football.
“There’s a lot of people who doubt us (Division-III talents) because of the size of the guys you are going against and everything,” said Meade. “There’s a lot of D-III guys that can really ball. It just matters how much work is put into it.
“For me, this off season coming into the combine, I trained at Test Performance Football Academy in New Jersey,” he added. “Honestly, it’s the best thing I ever did. They trained me on everything, my technique, to be sounded. I owe everything to those guys and my coaches.
Whatever Arizona Christian is feeding their players, keep issuing into the diet because they may become as powerful as Dominko Goff.
Goff is a natural born hitter. What makes him so dangerous is his ability to catch the ball. Goff runs hard, good footwork, possess great balance and, most importantly, willing to always learn.
“I can listen well and I love to better myself each day and others around me,” said Goff. (I’m) always willing to learn. That can be a plus for any team.”
The 6-1, 245-pound Goff plays well within his weight and is deceivingly strong as he punished the dummy bags during his Pass Rush Drills. Besides, applying punishment is Goff’s goal.
“Just to play as a team, how can I help the guys around me to accomplish one goal,” said Goff. “My teammates count on me to do my job and I can’t let them down, but I do feel like I punishing someone (grinning).”
Across the board, B.J. Bello of Illinois State is near universal. Bello represents the frustration of the NFL Regional Combine because athletes like him slips through the cracks often.
Thank goodness for the RC.
“I try to worry about myself. This was the best opportunity (NFL Regional Combine) allowed to me to showcase my abilities, so I went with it,” said Bello. “I can play 3-4 or 4-3 and all three of the linebacker spots. I hope I was able to demonstrated through the drills.”
Bello is explosive as he jumped near 12’ feet in his broad jump and clocked a sub 4.5 40-time. The 6-2, 230-pound soft-spoken linebacker is fluent in all his movements and his dynamic skill set can easily translate into an outstanding NFL player.
“I base myself on being versatile the best way I can,” said Bello, humbly. “Being able to cover in space, being a dynamic pass rusher, play man, cover and stopping the run. Being everything I can to be effective.”
The unknown can be glorious when discovered.