Commentary

RB James shows he's fully recovered

Originally Published: April 19, 2009
By Greg Biggins and Ronnie Flores | ESPNRISE.com

More than 1,200 athletes from all over the West converged on Veterans Memorial Stadium on Saturday for the 12th Nike Combine of 2009 at Long Beach City College.

In talent-laden Southern California, it didn't come as any surprise that there were some impressive SPARQ Ratings and outstanding individual marks. In fact, 11 players posted SPARQ Ratings higher than 100.

Jordon James (Corona, Calif.) was the headliner of the camp and definitely didn't disappoint. James, one of the top backs in the nation, ripped off a 113.22 SPARQ Rating, good enough for No. 2 in the camp. His scores included a 4.40 in the 40-yard dash, the fastest of the day; a 4.42 shuttle run; a 36.5-foot kneeling power ball toss; and a 38.9 inch vertical jump, the third best mark.

Last year as a junior, James got off to a fast start, rushing for more than 1,100 yards before a season-ending injury in the Panthers' fifth game against Norco. Before suffering his broken arm, James was among the state's rushing leaders.

"I need to get in shape and do better than last year," James said. "I just want to just go out and play and help my team make the [CIF] playoffs."

James' teammate, cornerback/wide receiver Demetrius Wright, clocked the second fastest 40-yard dash at 4.49 seconds. Wright measured in at a rock-solid 6-1, 190 pounds and may have been the most physically impressive players at the event.

Wright, who holds offers from Oregon, Arizona, Tennessee, Washington, Arizona and Oregon State, told us that the Ducks and Cats currently lead for him.

Staying in the Inland Empire, Roosevelt (Corona, Calif.) is the new kid on the block in the powerful Big VIII League, but some real talent is starting to emerge from that 3-year-old program. Two players from Roosevelt who caught our eye at the combine were defensive back Max Ofoma (5-10, 170) and wide receiver Austin Hill (6-3, 188).

Ofoma's 105.12 SPARQ Rating, the fourth best of the combine, included a 4.68 40, a 4.19 shuttle, a 39.0 power ball toss and a 36.3-inch vertical jump. Hill, a rangy athlete who claims offers from Arizona State, Arizona and UNLV, had solid testing marks of 4.69 in the 40 and a 35.6-inch vertical jump as part of his 95.22 SPARQ Rating.

"We're working hard and trying to become more of a team," Hill said. "You can't win individually on the football field."

Although he was the last player to complete the testing elements, Norco cornerback Joseph Smith certainly was one of the best. Attending a Nike Combine on consecutive weekends proved to beneficial for the 5-10, 185-pounder. He recorded the highest SPARQ Rating at 115.59.

Last week at L.A. Southwest College, Smith's rating was 92.67, but he didn't fare too well in the 20-yard shuttle. This time around, he clocked a 4.25 shuttle and added marks of 40.0 in the power ball toss, a 5-foot improvement, and a 36.3 inch vertical jump, a slight improvement over last week.

His 4.51 40 was a few ticks slower than last week (4.47), but he again displayed the tremendous overall athleticism that should help his recruiting interest pick up in the coming weeks, especially if he translates those testing marks into a solid showing at Sunday's L.A. Nike Football Training Camp.

"I've been working on my technique and footwork," Smith said. "This past week I worked a lot on my shuttles and 40s. Staying low and pushing out of the blocks is what I need to work on."

See below for the "Workout Warriors" from the Long Beach Nike Combine:

A quick explanation of the events:

• The SPARQ rating is a scoring system designed to measure football-specific athleticism by combining results in the four combine tests: 40-yard dash, 20-yard shuttle, vertical jump and power ball throw. Not all players choose to test in all areas, and some have their marks scratched in individual events.
• The 40-yard dash at Nike combines are timed using SPARQ digital timing.
• The shuttle run at the Nike combine is timed with stopwatches, and players must touch the lines with their hand.
• The vertical jump at the Nike combine is measured on jump pads in inches.
• The kneeling power-ball throw is a test of upper-body and core strength and is measured in feet to the nearest half-foot.

ESPN RISE and Scouts, Inc. will have much more from the Long Beach Nike Combine throughout the week, including top testing results from each event, more standout performances, the recruiting buzz from the combine, an all-combine team and complete results by the end of the week.