Friday, July 6, 2012
Updated: July 7, 3:01 AM ET
Mike Mitchell owns top SPARQ rating
By Mason Kelley
BEAVERTON, Ore. -- Mike Mitchell sat on the stairs leading up to the awards stage.
After running a 4.39 40-yard dash, the 6-foot-4, 215-pound linebacker from Plano (Texas) Prestonwood Christian Academy needed to catch his breath.
"It felt so good," Mitchell said. "It's probably one of the best feelings I've had during training stuff like this."
Mitchell's 40 time, coupled with his performances in the vertical jump, the agility shuttle and the kneeling power ball toss, earned him a score of 154.47, which earned him the SPARQ rating national championship Friday during a busy day at The Opening.
"It's a big honor, just because of all the great players that are out here," said Mitchell, who set the record in the event. "You're going against the best of the best, the best competition you can get in America."
Alabama commit Altee Tenpenny (North Little Rock, Ark./North Little Rock) took second place in the event with a score of 144.69, while running back Derrick Henry (Yulee, Fla./Yulee) finished third (144.60).
While the top 10 finishers battled for the title, the other athletes at the event watched and relaxed. A group of players tried to get linebacker Alex Anzalone (Wyomissing, Pa./Wyomissing) to freestyle rap, while running back Derrick Green (Richmond, Va./Hermitage) played catch with a few young fans.
During the preliminary testing in the morning, LSU commit and cornerback Jeryl Brazil (Loranger, La./Loranger) ran a 4.32 40, which proved to be the fastest of the day.
When the morning session of testing ended, the athletes broke for lunch and leisure before spending time on another field at the sprawling Nike World Headquarters going through position and one-on-one drills.
After one receiver dropped a pass, former NFL receiver Terance Mathis shouted, "That's your scholarship in the air, go get it."
Quarterback Christian Hackenberg (Fork Union, Va./Fork Union Military Academy) flashed his arm strength, while Max Browne (Sammamish, Wash./Skyline) showcased his accuracy. Whether it was Damore'ea Stringfellow (Moreno Valley, Calif./Rancho Verde) fighting off a defensive back for a catch along the sidelines or cornerback Chris Hawkins (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif./Rancho Cucamonga) picking off a pass, the nation's top football players all wanted to prove they belong with this group.
"It was great competition," Stringfellow said. "I guess whoever is hungrier comes down with it."