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Athletes preparing for the excitement of Nike Combine

3/23/2009

The arrival of spring can mean only one thing to high school football fans in Maryland: The Nike Baltimore Combine is coming to town.

This is third year that Nike is sponsoring the Maryland High School Football Coaches Association combine. The event is scheduled for Saturday, March 28, at 9 a.m. at M&T Bank Stadium.

It could be difficult to surpass the excitement of last year's Nike Combine, in which Torrance Hunt (Durham, N.C./Jordan) ran a 4.25 40-yard dash -- the fastest in the country last season.

This year's event has more than 1,500 athletes registered and is once again one of the biggest stops on Nike's combine tour. Last year's event tested more than 1,300 athletes, and not just those from Maryland. Football players from as far away as Miami, Utah and Canada attended the event.

Much of the excitement from the Nike combines comes from the surprise athletes who try to make a name for themselves during the day.

A good example from last year is Brandon Felder (Oxon Hill, Md.).

The Penn State commit had no offers and little interest heading into that Saturday, but a 40-yard-dash time of 4.43, a 4.15 shuttle run and a 35-inch vertical jump landed Felder several college offers in a matter of weeks.

Hunt was another lightly recruited athlete, but after posting the fastest 40-yard-dash time for the year, the rising senior received an official scholarship offer from East Carolina, which he later accepted.

The Nike Penn State combine is just the beginning for many Maryland athletes. For the select athletes that receive invitations, the Nike Penn State Camp is one of the tour's best stops and is scheduled for May 2. The Schuman's National Underclassmen Combine is scheduled for May 9th and 10th at Good Counsel (Olney), and the NATS Combine is scheduled for May 17th at Ravens Stadium.

With so many opportunities to test their abilities, many athletes have chosen to attend some combine preparation camps. MDVarsity.com caught up with two of the more popular run events - Elite Athlete Training Systems (E.A.T.S.) and Haden Sports and Performance. Check out the videos to hear it straight from the athletes.

Both E.A.T.S. and Haden will continue to train athletes for the combines after the Nike Combine. E.A.T.S. will have a free SPARQ Mini Football Camp on Saturday April 4th at the Rockville Sports Plex designed and implemented by SPARQ Trainers.

Haden trains athletes every Friday at 6:30 p.m. at Annapolis Area Christian in Severn, Maryland.

MDVarsity.com, along with ESPNU and ESPNRISE, will have complete coverage of the Nike Baltimore Combine.

Mike Loveday covers high school sports for ESPNRISE.com. Mike can be reached at Michael.Loveday@espn.com