For the second straight year, East Development in the Tri-Cities held a combine event, allowing athletes in the area to not only get accurate testing number, but exposure that is deeply craved in Southeast Washington.
The Tri-Cities area, and Southeast Washington in general, is vastly under-recruited. Multiple athletes from the area are overlooked each recruiting class, so we feel this event is highly beneficial not only for the athletes, but for us at NEI, who really do not get much of a chance to scout the area.
Below is a breakdown of the event, it is not a list of everyone in attendance, just those who stood out to me.
Last year at this event, the most impressive athlete was Richland’s Mason Jackson. The senior-to-be at the time had little to no collegiate interest, but things quickly picked up following the event, and Jackson eventually signed with Idaho State University.
This year’s most impressive athlete was Kaleb Ash (’16 ATH) of Pasco High School. Ash missed last season due to an injury, but looks fully healed and ran the fastest 40 yard dash (4.81) on the day, into a strong head wind. He also had the best shuttle (4.20), vertical jump (35″) and had one of the best broad jumps (8’10”).
Ash looks to project best as a DB and told me he hasn’t played the position before the event. He has fluid hips, good ball skills and is a very quick learner. The most impressive thing about Ash is he took everything I threw at him as a challenge, and gave max effort on every rep.
Not far behind Ash was John Lesser (’16 ATH) of Liberty Christian. Lesser tested very well in the shuttle (4.25) and had the top broad jump (9’2″) on the day. Lesser plays at the 1B (8-man) level, so events like these are key for his recruiting. East Development coaches were almost in awe at times during the one-on-one session, as Lesser made his defensive counterparts look silly.
Having twice participated in the state championship, including winning his freshman season, Lesser has plenty of experience and could easily transition to a higher level of play. Lesser projects highest offensively, and can make plays from the backfield or in the slot, where he shows great hands.
One of the biggest surprises for me was the improvements by Sebastian Gutierrez (’16 TE) from Pasco High School. Gutierrez has tremendous size at 6-foot-5 and about 215 pounds, but didn’t show as much athleticism as I was hoping for a year ago. Well, Gutierrez has worked very hard the last 12 months, and now very much looks the part of a college football player.
He still has a ways to go in refining his game, but Gutierrez tested well with a 5.07 40-yard dash into a very strong head wind, 4.58 in the shuttle and an 8’8″ broad jump. One of his more impressive traits is his ability to quickly pick up what his coaches are saying.
Royal’s Kaden Jenks (’17 QB) made the trip and was the top QB in attendance. His testing times were not indicative of his overall athleticism, as this was his first time in those events, but he showed well overall and had a very nice day throwing the ball. Jenks was one of the few QB’s who had the arm strength to cut through the strong winds, as he continues to gain momentum on what has been a strong offseason.
Jenks will be in attendance at the Northwest 9 in a few weeks, as will Pasco’s Kolby Killoy (’16 QB). Killoy tested well, with one of the top broad jumps (8’9″), and showed nice arm strength and accuracy in the one-on-one drills. Killoy threw for 2,300 yards and 22 TD’s last season, on way to a second team All-MCC selection.
I really liked what I saw from Mason Martin (’17 QB) of Southridge High School. He tested well, and threw a really nice ball. Martin showed good arm strength, nice touch and a willingness to learn. I would like to see more of Martin before making a real good judgement, but as far as first impressions go, I was happy with what I saw.
Martin’s teammate Brycen Kelly (’17 WR/DB) showed well throughout the day. Kelly has a nice frame at 6-foot-1 and 205 pounds, and looks to me like he would be best suited as a LB. He was good coverage and did a nice job attacking the ball offensively. I think his coverage skills as a DB and aggressiveness as a WR would translate very well to being a LB.
Second year in a row I have seen Kynen Tate (’16) of Pasco, and for a second year I liked what I saw. He does his best work defensively, but Tate can do a little bit of everything, even taking some QB reps at the event. He shows nice athleticism, a nose for the ball and projects highest as a LB.
Pasco teammates Izmael Mercado (’17 WR) and Tayden Jenkins (’18 WR) both look to have bright futures. They are both undersized, but can flat out play the position. Each showed good athleticism and hands, to go with nice route running. We will be keeping an eye on both in the future.
Kamiakin LB Riley Ellsworth (’17) is back to full strength after a serious leg injury, and showed well. He has a stout frame and is a big hitter, so this event could be tough, but he showed nice athleticism and did a nice job all day.
Mateo Jimenez (’17 LB/DB) of Pasco High School has a great day and will be a name I keep an eye on. He had one of the best broad jumps (8’11.5″) and overall showed very well in testing and athleticism. He needs to add weight, but has the frame to do so.
A couple of 2019 names I will be keeping an eye out for over the next few years are Davion Pruitt (OL/DL Pasco) and Alex Teal (TE/DB Southridge). Pruitt is a big boy, that moves surprisingly well and has a great attitude. Teal ran a 4.53 in the shuttle, which is actually very good for his age. He has nice hands and works hard.