Commentary

Pittsburgh Nike Combine ready to rock

Updated: February 21, 2010, 1:08 AM ET
By Michael White | ESPN RISE

It is no secret that Western Pennsylvania consistently produces top high school football talent that has gone on to do great things at the highest level. Saturday the Nike Football Combine Tour will be stopping in Pittsburgh, taking cover from the winter weather at the beautiful UMPC indoor facility, looking to showcase Western PA's next generation of top prospects as well to uncover some hidden talent.

NIKE Combine Links

Over the next week, ESPN RISE will have several items pertaining to the NIKE Pittsburgh Combines. For complete coverage of the event be sure to check ESPN RISE daily.

Pittsburgh has become an annual stop for the Nike Combine, and deservingly so as year-after-year over 800 athletes have come out to be tested. There is one particular local program that continuously produces DI talent in the greater Pittsburgh area and on Saturday Gateway (Monroeville, Pa.) will be well represented again with three of its top players expected to attend.

ESPNU 150 Watchlist defensive back Dondi Kirby is coming off a junior campaign in which he recorded 44 tackles and intercepted four passes in helping get the Gators to the playoffs. For his efforts, Maryland and Michigan are said to have extended early offers to the cover man.

Teammate Armstead Williams is also coming off a great junior campaign and will be out to show that he does have the measurables to follow in the footsteps of past Gators and make it to a BCS program. So far Michigan, Maryland and Miami of Ohio have extended offers to the 6-foot-2, 200-pound linebacker.

Others prospects to keep an eye out for in Pittsburgh include:

*LB Sascha Craig, Gateway (Monroeville, Pa.) -should be the next Gator to receive a BCS offer after a productive junior campaign with 66 tackles and eight sacks.

*RB Matt Green, Belle Vernon Area (Belle Vernon, Pa.) - 5-11, 175 pounder posted the second highest SPARQ Rating for underclassmen with a 94.50 at last year's Pittsburgh Nike Combine.

*ATH Tyler Harris, South (Charleston, W.V.) - earned multiple all-state selection awards as a junior playing quarterback but figures as more of a slot/athlete in college.

*LB Dayshean Rippy, Sto-Rox (McKees Rocks, Pa.) - will be one of the top 2012 players to look out for after posting 77 tackles and 7 sacks as a sophomore and already picking up a verbal offer from Pitt.

*RB Luke Shaffer, South Side (Hookstown, Pa.) - very intriguing under the radar running back with good size at 5-10, 185. Will look to improve on his 87.18 SPARQ Rating from a year ago.

At the conclusion of the 18-site 2010 Nike Football Combine tour, the top 20 SPARQ Rated athletes will converge upon Portland, Oregon from July 7-9 for the first-ever SPARQ Rating National Championship, which will pit these 20 elite athletes against each other in tests of the 40-yard dash, 20-yard shuttle, vertical jump and kneeling power ball toss (the four tests that make up the SPARQ Rating along with athlete weight) for the national title.

Overall top 20 so far through four of 18 Nike Combines:

NIKE MIAMI COMBINE
Rank Name Post.City (St.)SPARQ
1 Nick Menocal LB Miami (Fla.) 114.6
2 Chris Nutall RB College Station (Texas) 113.16
3 Nick Saponara WR Cumming (Ga.) 112.47
4 RaShad Greene WR Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) 109.8
5 Hugh Graham DB Miami (Fla.) 109.56
6 Rafi Montalvo QB Coral Gables (Fla.) 107.49
7 Caleb Kroon WR Conroe (Texas) 105.93
8 Bright Ashaka RB Katy (Texas) 105.69
9 Michael Pierce LB Daphne (Ala.) 105.42
10 Corey Thompson WR Missouri City (Texas) 103.86
11 Taylor Jobb DB Coral Springs (Fla.) 103.74
12 D.J. Schexnider DE Port Neches (Texas) 103.2
13 Chris Showels WR Round Rock (Texas) 99.63
14 Alfred Baratti WR Tomball (Texas) 99.42
15 Rodney Brown TE Navasota (Texas) 99.36
16 Max Ward WR The Woodlands (Texas) 99
17 Stanley Fleurent WR Homestead (Fla.) 98.97
18 Charles Jackson DB Houston (Texas) 98.85
19 Jalen Williams DE Sugar Land (Texas) 98.28
20 Edsel Caprice LB Cape Coral (Fla.) 98.19