When the Cleveland Browns put out the call, Dukes stars Bobby Nestor, Jacob Kakos, and Chris Wagner answered.
The three Wellington football players showed their skills in the 2014 High School Showcase at the team’s training facility in Berea on Sunday.
More than 220 players worked out in front of 17 Division II, III, and NAIA colleges from Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. They took part in the broad jump, shuttle run, 40-yard dash, and other drills.
The event was held for players graduating between 2014 and 2017 who would like to continue their football careers at the collegiate level.
“This is really our first look at the underclassmen,” said Hiram College director of football operations Tony Baldesare. “For most small colleges, the focus has been on the seniors. Once we put away next year’s incoming class we will start looking at these players. So we are here seeing if anyone stands out as someone we need to keep our eyes on.”
Although this was Hiram’s first year attending the showcase, the school has been scouring the country looking for talent to recruit to the Terriers.
“This is my third combine event this offseason,” said Chris Rosselot, defensive line coach at Hiram. “I’ve been one to Houston and one in Detroit. These are definitely beneficial for us to go to and this one especially since it’s overwhelmingly underclassmen.”
The underclassmen, although unknown, were the big draw for all the colleges in attendance.
“Obviously we can get a jump on the 2015 class as well as the 2016 group,” said Brad Watkins, defensive tackles coach at Ohio Northern University. “We can get an idea of guys that we want to look at and maybe go after. We can get into the schools in the spring to talk to the coaches. We’ll see some of these kids at summer camps.
“For most of these players, the journey to playing college football starts at events like this.”
The players were on the field for three hours. Instructions came quick and breaks were brief as the players were moved from station to station after each drill.
Even a collision between two players on a passing drill only stopped the action briefly as the players were attended to. After each got up and walked off under their own power, player quickly resumed like nothing had happened.
Nestor and Kakos participated in the morning session that consisted of quarterbacks, running backs, tight ends, wide receivers, defensive backs, and linebackers. Both players walked away impressed by what they saw.
“I learned a lot going through the drills,” said Nestor, who plays running back and cornerback for Wellington. “I met a lot of new people and got some good tips and ideas about training that I’m going to take back to the team. It might not seem like much, but it might make the difference for me, another player, or the entire team.”
“There was a lot of good talent here today,”said Kakos, a running back. “It was nice to see where we stand among other players in the area. I think events like this help us as individuals to improve. The more we improve as players, the better we will be as a team.”
The afternoon session consisted of offensive and defensive linemen. While the session was considerably less crowded than the morning, the impression left on Wagner was just as important.
“I think I did well but I know I need to improve a lot,” said Wagner, who plays on the line. “I did 185 pounds on the bench press 19 times, which is a personal best for me, but that’s not good enough. This event gave me an idea of where I am and where I need to be. Now I need to start working on those things that will make me a better player and help our team.”