Friday, January 1, 2010
Local QB highlights UA combine
By Gerry Hamilton
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Friday afternoon in rainy, chilly and windy weather, many of the top prospects in the 2011 class took part in the Class of 2011 Under Armour National Combine, and despite top talent from Louisiana, Ohio, Georgia, North Carolina, Alabama, Texas and Mississippi, a local quarterback stole the show.
ESPNU 150 Watch List signal-caller Jeff Driskel (Oviedo, Fla./Paul J. Hagerty) turned heads from start to finish. He first caught the eyes of many by showing up at 6-foot-3½ and a near perfectly proportioned 224 pounds. Soon after, he impressed combine coaches and instructors by recording a 4.55 40-yard dash time, which was followed by a 4.54 on his second attempt.
"I came out here and one of the first things I did was run the 40," said Driskel. "I felt like I ran it pretty fast, but I had no idea I ran it that fast. I ran a 4.52 last year at Auburn, but I thought that was fluke. I came out and felt good today."
Driskel continued to post impressive times, including 4.34 in the 20-yard shuttle and 8.15 in the three-cone drill. He followed that up by posting 14 reps of 185 pounds on the bench press, a 9-½ broad jump and a 26.5 vertical.
As combines go, some prospects are workout warriors -- posting impressive numbers that don't carry over to the field, but that was not the case with Driskel. The strong-armed, right-handed quarterback with a quick, compact delivery made a pair of impressive throws in 7-on-7.
"I didn't get many opportunities, but the two I did get were good. On one I saw an uncovered man and threw it out to him. The other one I looked around the field and caught a dig," Driskel said.
His best play was an intermediate throw along the sideline that perfectly split the corner and converging safety. In that one throw Driskel showed timing and accuracy, plus arm strength and an understanding of how to fit a ball in a closing window.
After today's performance, his stock will be soaring to an all-time high, but four programs have beaten everybody to the punch.
"I have offers from FIU, Auburn, Virginia Tech and Ole Miss," Driskel said.
Growing up in a military family that moved around quite a bit, the Orlando-area star didn't fixate on one team -- but if one program has surged to the top of the list, it would be the Auburn Tigers.
"When I was younger, I moved around a lot so I just followed all of the teams. My dad was in the Navy. I followed the Florida schools and Auburn the most. I have a couple of family friends that attend Auburn," Driskel said.
A sense of family will be key in picking a college.
"I want to build relationships with the coach and be sure they are going to embrace me as part of the family. Academics are big too. I don't want to go to a school that will just have a good team. I want to go to a good school and have a good major."
Gerry Hamilton has covered recruiting in Texas and the Southwest for more than a decade. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.