Coombs at camp

Jackson Coombs readies for a combine exhibition in Salina.                            

ROBERT MAGOBET

A handful of Chanute High School football players harnessed their talents at a recent combine ahead of the potential 2020 season.

Jackson Coombs, Garrett Almond and Kolten LaCrone have been getting ready for the 2020 high school football season, after contributing to a football team that went as far as the State sectionals and finished the 2019 season with a 9-2 record – the best since 2013. 

Last Friday, to make themselves that much better, these Chanute players attended the Sharpe Performance High School Football Showcase at Kansas Wesleyan University in Salina.

The showcase is an annual camp that tests hundreds of student-athletes in the 40-yard dash, 5-10-5 pro-agility drill, vertical jump, and height and weight measurements. The data collected coupled with film can be used by college recruiters to evaluate a player’s ability to play on the collegiate level.

“Our goal is to provide the best prospect discovery platform possible by creating an equal playing field for each athlete to showcase their skills in front of numerous sports media and college coaches,” the organization states on its website. 

“The event is open to athletes from the classes of 2021 to 2024 who wish to gain valuable combine experience, recruiting exposure and get third party testing results in the 40-yard dash, pro agility, vertical leap. As many as 500 athletes from throughout Kansas and surrounding states could attend, making the combine one of the largest athletic testing events in the state and the Midwest.”

Coombs was one of many, and like those showcasing their abilities at the camp, the Blue Comet wanted the extra work to translate into action at the Chanute Community Sports Complex. In an effort to win a starting job at running back – last year as a sophomore, Coombs played on special teams and sparingly in situational downs behind Briley Peavy, Ryker Donovan and Tyler Davis – the incoming junior went to the camp to train and prepare his hardest.

While CHS lost Peavy and Davis to graduation, Coombs said he went to the camp knowing he would be competing against Donovan and other Blue Comets for the starting running back job.

“Really the goal is just to try and get ready,” Coombs said. “If you can get a look while you’re out there, that would be nice, but my main goal was just to get out there and get ready for this upcoming football season.”

On full display, Coombs ran a 4.76 in the 40-yard dash, a 4.28 in the pro agility, leaped to 32.8 inches in the vertical jump, and bench pressed five reps of 225 pounds.

Coombs, who has been training with the team since the second week of June, assessed his performance.

“I thought there were a few events that I could have done better,” he said. “Overall going into my junior year, I thought it was a good look for my first actual combine.”

Teammate Almond went in with a workmanlike mentality as well, despite the incoming senior being the favorite to assume the starting slot receiver position. In his showing, the pass catcher ran 5 seconds flat in the 40-yard dash, a 4.79 in the pro agility, jumped 25.2 inches in the vertical, and benched 185 pounds nine times.

Almond, who played receiver last season but will move to slot this year, said he wanted to compare himself to the other talent.

“My goal was to see where I stood and (to compete in) some of the testing, whether it was the 40-yard dash, the vertical jump, bench press, to see where I’m at and where I compare to other people,” Almond said. 

LaCrone, a junior defensive end, was able to run a 4.86 in the 40-yard dash, a 4.49 in the pro agility, 27.9 in the vertical jump, and lifted 10 repetitions of 185 pounds on the bench press. LaCrone will use the work at the camp and in training camp to vie for a starting job.

These players will continue to work as if there will be a 2020 high school football season, though only time will tell if this preparation will be used for a regularly-scheduled season, as USD 413 makes decisions about beginning the school year in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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