Commentary

Peavy tops strong Chicago combine

Several stars emerge as 15 athletes top 100 in the SPARQ rating system

Updated: April 11, 2012, 10:19 AM ET
By Brian Stumpf

LAKE BARRINGTON, Ill. -- The 2012 Nike Football SPARQ Combine tour returned to the Midwest on Saturday for the 12th event of the spring, as over 950 participants were tested and competed at the Lake Barrington Fieldhouse. The indoor conditions led to some excellent testing results as 15 athletes topped 100 in the SPARQ rating system.

The past few years, out-of-state performers have grabbed the headlines at the Chicago Nike combine. Last spring it was unknown Waunakee (Wis.) tailback Leo Musso posting a 120.27 SPARQ rating and going from no offers to signing with Wisconsin. While in 2010 Wesley Leftwich of Hickman (Columbia, Mo.), an eventual Missouri commit, posted a 126.09 rating to earn a trip to the inaugural SPARQ Rating National Championship.

The trend continued on Saturday, as Tremper (Kenosha, Wis.) wideout Jazz Peavy announced his presence on the recruiting radar with authority, finishing with the day's best SPARQ rating at 122.52. The 6-foot-1, 169-pound receiver blazed a 4.50 40-yard dash and a 4.00 20-yard shuttle; jumped 33.8 inches in the vertical; and threw the power ball an impressive 40.5 feet.

Peavy earned Wisconsin Football Coaches Association All-State honors as a junior this past fall, one of five wideouts in the state named to the WFCA team. Peavy improved his 92.61 SPARQ rating from last year's Chicago combine by nearly 30 full points.

"So far, I'm hearing the most from Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan," Peavy said. "But I'm still waiting for that first offer."

The Chicago Nike combine featured a strong group of running backs, as seven players at the position topped 100 in the SPARQ rating, led by Austin Guido of Waubonsie Valley (Aurora, Ill.), who finished with a 109.86.

Saturday's event hosted players from a remarkable 27 states, as participants came from as far away as Washington and Florida. North Dakota's lone representative, safety Layne Johs of Sparta (Bismarck, N.D.), is a player to keep an eye on. The 5-foot-10, 201-pound Johs earned Class AAA all-state honors last fall and finished with a 104.76 SPARQ rating.


Top Class of 2013 Performer

Jazz Peavy, WR, Tremper (Kenosha, Wis.)

Peavy looks like he'll be the latest in a line of standouts from the Badger State to use the Chicago Nike combine as a launching pad to Division I recruitment. The speedy wideout scored six times and totaled over 500 yards on a run-heavy team last fall. His 122.52 SPARQ rating is the seventh-best overall out of over 14,000 athletes who have been tested on the 2012 tour and second-best to this point for a receiver.


Class of 2013 Honorable Mention Performers

Tyler Brown, OL, Richwood (Peoria, Ill.)

Brown may not be the biggest offensive line prospect at just over 6-foot-1 and 272 pounds, but he had a huge effort on Saturday. Brown tossed the power ball 47 feet, the second-best throw on the 2012 Nike combine tour to date. Brown also ran a superb 5.19 40 and posted a 30.8-inch vertical jump to finish with an excellent 93.42 SPARQ rating.

TBD Editor
Tom Hauck/ESPNHSLinebacker Mason Burnett proved he's fully recovered from an ankle injury with a strong 115.65 SPARQ rating at the Chicago Nike combine.
Mason Burnett, LB, Fort Zumwalt East (St. Peters, Mo.)

After only playing two full games last year at tiny O'Fallon Christian (O'Fallon, Mo.) because of a broken ankle, Burnett needed a big day on Saturday as much as any player in attendance and came through in eye-opening fashion. The rangy 6-foot-4, 204-pound 'backer ran a 4.65 40 and a 4.20 shuttle; threw the power ball 40 feet; and posted a 36.3-inch vertical jump on the way to the event's second-highest rating with a 115.65.

Tommy Fuessel, QB, Lincoln-Way (Frankfort, Ill.)

Fuessel doesn't have a lot of tape playing quarterback, as he was behind a senior starter last fall, but his athletic ability alone should lead to some interest under center or potentially at another skill position. The 6-foot-2, 176-pounder ran a combine-best 4.46 40 and ran a 4.18 shuttle, jumped 37 inches in the vert and threw the power ball 38 feet for a 113.70 SPARQ rating.

Austin Guido, RB, Waubonsie Valley (Aurora, Ill.)

Guido led a strong running back contingent on Saturday, posting a 109.86 SPARQ rating on the strength of a 4.67 40, a 4.03 shuttle and a 39.5-foot power ball throw. The powerful back ran for 1,182 yards and 17 touchdowns this past fall as a junior.

Aarion Penton, DB, CBC (St. Louis)

A Missouri commit since early February, Penton still came out to compete on Saturday and showed the speed that has the Tigers excited about his future, clocking one of the day's best 40 times with a 4.54. The 5-foot-9, 175-pounder, who was a Class 6 all-state pick this past fall for state powerhouse CBC. He also jumped 31.7 inches in the vertical and threw the power ball 34 feet.


Top Underclass Performer

Chris James ('14), RB, Notre Dame (Niles, Ill.)

James is already a known commodity in Illinois, having done well at this event a year ago and having played a prominent role on varsity last fall as a sophomore. He should be known outside of the Land of Lincoln after Saturday's performance, as the sturdy 5-foot-9, 195-pounder posted the combine's second-best 40 at 4.48 and third-best vertical jump at 37.4 inches, finishing with a 105.06 SPARQ rating.

Other underclassmen who impressed

WR Mike Dudek ('14), 5-10.5, 163, Neuqua Valley (Naperville, Ill.)
RB Mikel Horton ('14), 6-1, 228, Lakota East (Liberty Township, Ohio)
DB Allen Lazard ('14), 6-4.5, 190, Urbandale (Iowa)
DL Kahlil McKenzie ('15), 6-3, 277, Southwest (Green Bay, Wis.)
WR Michael Nelson ('14), 5-11, 171, North Laurel (London, Kent.)
RB Marcus Smith ('14), 5-8.5, 167, Menomonie (Wis.)



Below is a list of top five performers from each testing category. Stay tuned to ESPNHS.com and the Nike Football SPARQ Combine homepage the rest of the week for more coverage from the Chicago Nike combine.

Chicago Nike Combine Top Fives

SPARQ Rating
1. Jazz Peavy, WR, 6-1, 169, Tremper (Kenosha, Wis.) -- 122.52
2. Mason Burnett, LB, 6-4, 204, Fort Zumwalt East (St. Peters, Mo.) -- 115.65
3. Mike Dudek, WR, 5-10.5, 163, Neuqua Valley (Naperville, Ill.) -- 114.72
4. Tommy Fuessel, QB, 6-2, 176, Lincoln-Way East (Frankfort, Ill.) -- 113.70
5. Austin Guido, RB, 5-10, 192, Waubonsie Valley (Aurora, Ill.) -- 109.86

40-yard dash
1. Tommy Fuessel, QB, 6-2, 176, Lincoln-Way East (Frankfort, Ill.) -- 4.46
2. Chris James ('14), RB, 5-9, 195, Notre Dame (Niles, Ill.) -- 4.48
3. Jazz Peavy, WR, 6-1, 169, Tremper (Kenosha, Wis.) -- 4.50
4. Miguel Hermosillo, RB, 5-10, 189, Ottawa Township (Ottawa, Ill.) -- 4.52
5. Aarion Penton, DB, 5-9, 175, CBC (St. Louis) -- 4.54
5. Jester Weah, WR, 6-2, 190, Madison (Wis.) -- 4.54

20-yard shuttle
1. Marcus Smith ('14), RB, 5-8.5, 167, Menomonie (Wis.) -- 3.90
2. Mike Dudek, WR, 5-10.5, 163, Neuqua Valley (Naperville, Ill.) -- 3.91
3. Jazz Peavy, WR, 6-1, 169, Tremper (Kenosha, Wis.) -- 4.00
4. Austin Guido, RB, 5-10, 192, Waubonsie Valley (Aurora, Ill.) -- 4.03
5. Justin Gedaly, LB, 6-1, 191, Huntley (Ill.) -- 4.04

Kneeling Power Ball toss
1. Tyler Brown, OL, 6-1.5, 272, Richwoods (Peoria, Ill.) -- 47 feet
2. Javon Harrison, QB, 6-1, 208, Wayne (Huber Heights, Ohio) -- 43.5 feet
3. Marcellus Edwards, TE, 6-1, 217, Decatur Central (Indianapolis, Ind.) -- 43 feet
4. Jeff Anderson, RB, 5-11.5, 217, Conway (Ark.) -- 42 feet
5. Four tied with -- 41 feet

Vertical Jump
1. Kevin Green, DB, 5-10.5, 161, Rich Central (Olympia Fields, Ill.) -- 37.6 inches
1. Robyn Pondexter, QB, 5-5.5, 145, Julian (Chicago) -- 37.6 inches
3. Chris James ('14), RB, 5-9, 195, Notre Dame (Niles, Ill.) -- 37.4 inches
4. Tevin Graham ('14), DB, 5-9, 150, Hillcrest (Country Club Hills, Ill.) -- 37.2 inches
5. Trevon Woods ('14), QB, 5-7, 163, Hillcrest (Country Club Hills, Ill.) -- 37.1 inches