One of the cool new traditions that have been started under the new coaching staff is the implementation of the annual Husky Combine event before every spring practice.
The Combine is organized by Tim Socha's strength and conditioning staff as a motivator for the Husky football team as they endure their grueling offseason workouts. It is a clever tactic by the staff to take advantage of the all of the buzz and interest that surrounds the NFL Draft Combine that is held in the weeks just before the Husky Combine.
While the event is open to the public, this isn't really intended to be a fan event. This is all about the Huskies and the development of that "killer edge" that Chris Petersen has been quoted on in recent weeks. The players train all offseason knowing that they will get the chance to compete in an underwear Olympics against fellow teammates and to earn bragging rights. Case in point: who hasn't heard of John Ross's 4.29 40-yard dash from a season ago?
Unfortunately, nobody from the Dawg Pound Staff was available to cover the event, which started at 7am PT last Tuesday. Tim Socha was kind enough to Tweet out some of the results. Below is a recap of those Tweets with some thoughts.
Husky Combine 2015 Top 5-40yd Dash D.Washington - 4.42 J.Dotson - 4.43 M.Hall - 4.45 D.Cooper - 4.49 B.Baker - 4.49— Tim Socha (@coachtimsocha) March 10, 2015
Chicks dig the long ball.
In the world of combine training events, the 40 yard dash is the "long ball". While I think that many people were predicting Budda Baker to win the event (especially given the absence of John Ross as he tends to the rehab of his knee), I don't think too many Husky fans are going to feel too badly about Dwayne Washington posting a 4.42. That is generally considered a "Pro Level" performance (though, it is important to note that the timing was done by hand timer).
If you are looking for a surprise, how about Deontae Cooper posting the 4.49? Many of us thought that Coop looked like he may have had his speed zapped by his three ACL injuries. But to think that he is running at the same clip as a younger, healthier Budda is extremely exciting and testament to the dedication that he has to his training.
Husky Combine 2015 Top 5-Vertical Jump K. King - 38.0 B. Clay - 36.5 J. Dotson - 36.5 D. Washington - 36.0 M. Hall - 35.5— Tim Socha (@coachtimsocha) March 10, 2015
On the field, Kevin King has been maligned by some as a "weak link" in the Safety rotation for two years now. However, when you see a young player - and King is still a young player - post a very good vertical jump such as that, it is not hard to see why two different coaching staffs have elected to keep him on the field. To put 38.0" into perspective, that is the same height that pro basketball player Harrison Barnes jumped when he led all participants in the NBA combine a few seasons ago. It is a strong jump that would be in the top 20 range of all players in a typical NFL combine.
Note the appearance of Jamon Dotson on this list. I was chided not too long ago for neglecting to include Dotson in a commentary on Running Backs and here he is showing up in the top 3 in his second event. Not bad for the RS Frosh.
Husky Combine 2015 Top 5 - Pro Agility J. Mickens - 3.96 K. King - 4.08 G. McDaniel - 4.08 A. Victor - 4.10 C. Miles - 4.11— Tim Socha (@coachtimsocha) March 10, 2015
The Agility Drill, for those of you unaware, is the equivalent of running lines. The player starts straddling the starting line and then breaks five yards in one direction, touches the line, breaks 10 yards the other direction, touches the line and then returns to his original starting point. Generally speaking, 4.0-4.2 seconds is considered "Pro Level" while anything under 4.0 is in the "Elite Athlete" category.
This is a completely different drill then the 40 yard dash as it requires a different level of burst from the athlete and really measures your ability to make a "football move" - in this case a sudden change in direction. Jaydon Mickens's 3.96 is an incredibly impressive time and provides objective data that matches a lot of the "juke and jive" that we see from him on the field. I was also impressed to see MLB Azeem Victor rate so high in this drill. It'll be great to see if that can translate onto the field.
And, how about Cyler Miles showing up on this list? 4.11 is the kind of number you'd expect to see out of a high level defensive back, receiver or a running back. It's a reminder of the kind of impact that Miles can have with the ball in his hands either saving a broken a play or stepping up into an open zone in front of the pocket. If he can ever get the point where he isn't thinking but just reacting, these kinds of stats indicate that he might be able to break a few big plays.
Husky Combine 2015 Top 5 - 3 Cone D. Washington - 6.49 K. King - 6.49 J. Mickens - 6.67 G. McDaniel - 6.77 C. Littleton - 6.81— Tim Socha (@coachtimsocha) March 10, 2015
So, this is the one drill that popped out as perhaps slightly biased by the timing mechanism. Two Huskies tied for the top spot with times of 6.49 seconds. If this were the 2015 NFL Combine, then both Dwayne Washington and Kevin King would be tied for the best time in the event and just .07 seconds off the record set in 2011 by Oregon's Jeff Maehl (I know, "WTF?" was my reaction to that, as well).
Regardless, it is great to see so many strong performances in this drill - in particular, it is the first time that we see Cory Littleton's name pop up. Littleton is an absolute creature and to post that kind of time in this kind of drill is a good signal that our pass rush may be in good hands going into 2015.
Or not. I guess we'll have to see.
Incidentally, you may well be asking yourself about an unfamiliar name that you've seen pop up a few times here. RS Freshman Gavin McDaniel is a "mighty mite" style of running back out of Texas who is on the roster as a walk-on.
Husky Combine 2015 Top 5 - Broad Jump D. Washington -10'9.25" J. Dotson -10'8.5" J. Perkins - 10'4.5" K. King - 10'3.5" M. Hall - 10'2.25"— Tim Socha (@coachtimsocha) March 10, 2015
One of my favorite combine-style events is the broad jump. It is one of the more effective drills in helping one quantify both the balance and the burst required to play in tight spaces. Running backs, defensive linemen and tight ends, I think, can be better understood by tracking how they do in this event relative to their peers.
Workout warrior, Dwayne Washington, wins this again and definitely signaled throughout the combine that he didn't take any days off preparing to be the featured back for UW this season. I was not surprised to see yet another appearance by Kevin King and I was very heartened to see Joshua Perkins record an impressive 10'4.5". Since 2012 (maybe longer, but I just stopped looking after that year), only four TE prospects - one them being Colt Lyerla of Oregon - have jumped better than 10'4". So, that's a good look for Perkins.
From what we can read in just the results tweeted by Socha, you can see that the elite athletes on the roster came ready to perform, even after you adjust for whatever variances come from time keeping method. While it would have been great if guys like Jermaine Kelly and John Ross were fully healthy and able to compete 100%, I think we can all get a good feel for who the best athletes are at this point.
One other thing that we can garner from the event is that the players appear to be taking the next step in Socha's program. Some of those times and measurements are no joke - they are legitimate, attention-grabbing measurements that, if paired with performance on the field, would generate pro interest. While we don't have any data that I've seen on the weight-lifting side of things, it stands to reason that similar progress is being made in that area of the program. If so, I know that would come as welcome news to many Dawg fans.
Of course, this is still just a glorified track event. Many guys can excel when nobody is lined up on the other side of the field to punch you in the face. How these guys translate their weight room prowess into results is all that matters. You know, I know it and, yes, Chris Petersen knows it:
Always great coming down to @coachtimsocha's weight room for a little morning motivation. #GoDawgs pic.twitter.com/WrD7UYWPUz— Coach Petersen (@CoachPeteUW) March 4, 2015