View From the Press Box: Dion Clisso 3/9

Dion Clisso

By Dion Clisso PrepsKC Managing Editor
Posted: March 9, 2011 - 3:54 PM

The offseason always has a few events that really bring my interest. One of these events is the Human Performance Testing combine Saturday at Harrisonville High School.

I talked a little bit about this event in my column last week but as I began to get ready to cover this event it got me thinking even more about the idea of a combine. The term combine has gained most of its exposure from the NFL and that is the “combine” most people think of.

Last week the NFL held its annual combine in Indianapolis for prospects for the upcoming draft. It has become a very big deal over the years and now you can watch every minute of it on the NFL Network. I admit I watched some of it, but it isn’t really compelling television.

At the NFL combine the usual 40-yard dash, shuttle run, bench press and other tests take place. All of the athletes compete against other athletes at their position. When I say compete they are ranked based on their position. So quarterbacks are measured against quarterbacks and so on.

Every year it seems there are players who zoom up the draft board based on their combine workouts or for that matter fall down the draft board for the same reason.

The line of draft busts that were beasts at the combine is long. You don’t have to go back too many years to see maybe the biggest in the Raiders Jamarcus Russell. Russell was a great athlete. He could throw the ball over 50 yards while kneeling and a lot of other stuff that really didn’t have to do anything with winning or losing football games.

The combine has its place in the NFL, but a lot of teams will get caught up in drafting the athlete and not the football player. It almost seems like the combine is more of use in high school like the event at Harrisonville than it is in the pros. These high school players will have a chance to test their speed, agility and strength and learn ways to get better. They aren’t being tested to see if the coach wants them to play on the team, simply where their athletic ability is on that day.

That is one thing high school coaches seem to have over college and professional coaches. High school coaches don’t get to pick their players. A high school coach simply gets to choose the best football players from the group that comes out every August. As a high school coach is putting together his team, he is simply looking for the players that give him the best chance to win, not the best athlete at every position.

That is what makes high school football the most pure form of the game. It’s just the best football players who see the field. Not the most recruited, not the high round draft pick or not the big-dollar free agent. It’s just the football players.

Dion Clisso is the Managing Editor of PrepsKC. To reach him send e-mail to