By Steven Bowers
This time of year, all the talk is about March Madness. However, it’s never a bad time to get out the pigskin, and Saturday, March 25th was a beautiful day for some young, up-and-coming football prospects to get on the gridiron and show what they can do. The event was the Elite Underclassmen Football Showcase and the venue was Elon Park in Charlotte, NC.
Kids from the sixth grade through their junior year of high school were invited to compete in the pro shuttle (5-10-5), broad jump, and forty-yard dash as well as break up and do some one-on-one competitions. There was a lot of young, raw talent on display, but there were some who stood out and got recognized.
For the sixth grade, Josh Boigner of Carmel Christian School was the Top Prospect Award winner. At 4’10” and 92 lbs, Boigner was one of the smallest players on the field, but he did not seem intimidated. He ran the pro shuttle in 5.03 and jumped an even six feet in the broad jump.
The seventh grade Top Prospect was also small in stature but his name makes up for it. Porter Ridge Middle School’s Stephan Zayachkowsky is 5’0″ and 98 lbs, but he put up some good numbers. He jumped 6’4″ in the broad and recorded a 5.25 in the shuttle.
Julian Gray stood out for the eighth-graders. The 5’8″ 149-pounder from Academy Christian School posted an 8’4″ in the broad jump, and ran the forty-yard dash and the shuttle respectively in five seconds flat.
Pine Lake Prep’s Kris Petroski got the Top Prospect Award for the freshman class. His measurables are 5’8″ and 160 lbs, and he played running back and safety this past season, in which he recorded five touchdowns in one game. Petroski ran a 4.5 in the shuttle and posted a 4.8 in the forty, which was tied with Jordan Gregg, a junior, for the fastest forty time of the day. He said he was shooting for a 4.7 in the forty. Petroski also posted one of the better broad jumps at an even 9’0.”
Another solid freshman was Bobby Savage from Marvin Ridge. He jumped an 8’8″ in the broad jump, ran a 5.03 shuttle and a 5.0 forty.
There were two sophomores that got recognized, Kyle Coleman of Ardrey Kell High School and Cuthbertson’s Davis Walker. Coleman came in at 5’5″ and 133 lbs. He put up a 4.6 in the shuttle, a 5.1 forty, and a broad jump of 8’0.”
At 6’3″ and 182 lbs, Walker was one of the two tallest players at the combine, and he looks the part of the prototypical quarterback. He did the shuttle in 4.63 and pulled off a 9’0″ broad. Walker is coming
off of a broken ankle in 2016.
A classmate of Walker’s at Cuthbertson is Myles Wallace. He was clocked at 4.89 in the shuttle and 5.0 in the forty. His broad was 8’10.”
Another Marvin Ridge product was junior Michael Freeman, who also runs track. Freeman missed all but the first four games of 2016 with a broken thumb, but did have a school-record 84-yard touchdown catch. His overall numbers were some of the best posted on the day. He tied for the fastest forty time at 4.8 and just missed the best shuttle with his 4.44. For a while, Freeman had the distance to beat in the broad jump at 9’6.” He said some of his goals for his senior season are trying be a 1,000-yard receiver and making all-conference.
“I’ve been working with Elite since I moved here in sixth grade,” Freeman said. “It’s just exciting to compete and try to do my best out here.”
The Top Prospect of the junior class and perhaps from the entire Showcase was Jordan Gregg of Sumter High School in South Carolina. At 5’9″ and 145 lbs, Gregg did not necessarily stick out with his physical appearance, but his numbers did. He jumped the longest broad jump at 9’8.” The broad jump was very competitive as several of the players kept trying again and raising the bar for the next man up. Gregg also tied with three others for the fastest forty time at 4.8. He just missed the hat trick with a 4.4 in the shuttle.
Tenth-grader Elijah Johnson, of Northside Christian, pulled off the fastest shuttle of the day at 4.3. Johnson also put up an even 9-foot broad jump and ran the forty in 4.9. On the field, he had about 1,700 yards passing and 20 touchdowns this season, and he hopes to put up even better numbers in the fall.
“I’ve been working out pretty much every day, just working on my drops,” Johnson said. “I just want to get better and maybe learn some more drills that can help
me that I can do at home. And the competition helps to compete against the best.”
Another in a talented group of sophomores was quarterback Malik Richardson of Lakewood High School, also in Sumter, SC. Richardson is an athletically-built 6’3″ and 190 lbs. He jumped 9’0″ in the broad jump and ran a 4.9 forty and 5.16 in the shuttle. Richardson threw for a little over 1,000 yards and nine scores last season and ran for 400 and four touchdowns.